What a season it has been for the Newcastle Falcons! We have successfully retained our position in the top-flight of rugby, and the Community Foundation has been going from strength-to-strength this season.
With over 17,000 participants in our community programmes across the year, we have delivered more rugby coaching and community visits than ever before.
Our first season back in the Aviva Premiership was a fantastic opportunity to continue the core Premiership community programmes. The Aviva Schools Rugby Programme has been in place in more than 100 classes across the North East and Cumbria. This is the first time the programme has been delivered across the county line in Cumbria, by our newly appointed Cumbria development officer Keith Robinson. The ARSP comprises of two hours of tag rugby in two classes per school, teaching children the basics of rugby skills and drills. As well as this, the teachers at the school receive an education day and some equipment to continue rugby delivery once the programme has come to its conclusion. After each half-term of the programme, the schools involved are invited to a mass festival at a local rugby club to engage with others, play games, and meet the junior section at the club, encouraging children to take up rugby in their spare time and continue with activity.
Schools are also invited to festivals and half-time activity here at Kingston Park, which they attended at the Northampton Saints game on 23 February. The winner of this festival was also lucky enough to gain a place at Twickenham for the Premiership final last weekend.This year the lucky winners were Stanwix Primary School in Cumbria.
Alongside the Aviva programme, season 2013-14 saw the return of the Something to Chew on Programme thanks to the BT Supporter’s Club. This ground breaking programme combines physical activity with an hour of classroom education for youngsters on the importance of a healthy diet and the eatwell plate. Schools throughout the North East have benefited from this delivery by our community coaches, and we have had some fantastic feedback about real change in habits of the children in schools. The participants of this programme also receive the opportunity to play in festivals both at a local club and here at Kingston Park. The winner of the local festival this year were Croftway Primary and they also headed to Twickenham as their special prize!
Locally sponsored programmes have been notable this year with both Vantec and Port of Tyne sponsoring substantial tag programmes in their local areas. Vantec’s Sunderland based tag programme reached out to 10 schools throughout the region providing two hours of tag coaching, teacher education, equipment and festivals for over 600 children. The Port of Tyne sponsored a similar initiative in South Shields with over 600 children benefiting from the tag coaching, teacher education and festival days carried out by our community coaches. These programmes also involved player visits to the festivals, with James Fitzpatrick being notable for his involvement in the local South Shields area even taking his old school for a training session. Transition days at local clubs Sunderland and Westoe also took place and we actively encourage those who took part in the programme to continue with local rugby. Alongside Northumberland Schools, the Falcons work has extended into Durham in a substantial way thanks to the Derwent Valley Area Action Partnership funded Rugby Engagement Project. This programme extends to 10 schools over six weeks with coaching., holiday rugby camps and a chance to visit Newcastle Falcons free of charge. The programme works closely with local Consett Rugby club to promote further participation of rugby.
The schools work has been incredible but we could not discuss this season without a mention to the fantastic turnout to all of our match day festivals and activity. This year has been the most successful yet with over 2,500 children from clubs involved in our multiple age group festivals from under-7s through to under-16s. We have also had fantastic responses from a wide geographical spread of clubs. Joining strong attendance figures from clubs in our home county of Northumberland, other counties have turned out in droves including Cumbria, Durham, North Yorkshire and the Borders region. This year has seen first ever entries from teams such as Wetherby, Scunthorpe and Wensleydale as well as fantastic travelling efforts from those further afield such as Duns, Netherhall, Workington and Kirkby Lonsdale. We appreciate the fantastic support and effort involved by junior section leads and coaches to organise these festivals and they have been party to some fantastic displays of rugby here at Kingston Park.
Supporting and encouraging junior rugby is a core focus of the Community Foundation, but another strand works on motivating others to join sport. This has been significantly improved this season through the first cohort of our School Sports Apprenticeship Programme in partnership with learning provider InnovEd. Since October, we have had 19 apprentices working in schools throughout the North East, joined by six more on the level two programme in March. Attaining both their Level Two award in Employment Awareness and Emergency First Aid, as well as working towards thei NVQ Level Two Diploma in Exercise and Fitness, as well as a range of add on qualifications such as LTA delivers course and Supporting Teaching and Learning in Physical Education Teaching certificates. This programme has provided employment for 25 young people in local schools, and many will be continuing to level three in September 2014.
There has been so much happening this season with the Foundation; it is difficult to fit into one newsletter. We have continued our working partnerships with North Tyneside Sport, the Prince’s Trust and Newcastle University as well as everything mentioned above. Our Flock junior supporters numbers have increased by 450 this season and we have had over 850 attendees on our Premiership Rugby Academy Camps. We have raised more than £10,000 in our charity partnership with the Teenage Cancer Trust through a series of joint events and fundraising around the Falcons ground on match days. We would like to thank all of our fantastic volunteers who have made this season such a success, from volunteer coaches at local clubs, to teachers giving up spare time to organise trips and our masses of festival volunteers. A big thank you also to our community sponsors whose invaluable support to the foundation allows our community coaches to deliver such fantastic work in the community: Cellular Solutions, North British Tapes, North of England P&I, Barclays, Land Rover, Wooden Spoon and Sport relief.