Sale Sharks captain Dan Braid joined forces with Premiership Rugby’s newest community programme On The Front Foot to bring rugby values and smiles aplenty to Cloughside College, Manchester.
On The Front Foot is a Department for Education funded initiative which combines interactive classroom activity and training field fun to instil rugby values among young people about to take the next step in life.
Premiership Rugby’s scheme utilises the focus, teamwork, respect, enjoyment, discipline and sportsmanship that rugby inspires to support Year 9, 10 and 11 pupils who are considering their next move, Year 6 students before secondary school and those over 16 who are out of education or employment.
Sharks have been working with Cloughside College, which is a hospital school for children with mental health conditions, for six weeks and New Zealander Braid was on hand to provide the kids with a unique learning experience.
“We saw a couple of groups of kids and they are all really enjoying it – you could see those rugby values having a positive influence,” said Braid, who is taking up a coaching position with Sharks at the end of the season.
“I think the sportsmanship and teamwork which rugby has is important. It is a very physical game on the field, but off the field you get a lot of strong friendships.
“It has been great using the values that rugby has, getting the players out and interacting with the kids, getting into the community and helping out.
“The community guys we have at Sale are great – they always make sure they get the players who are available to go and help out.”
The programme reaches more than 17,000 pupils in schools across the country, as well as providing an intensive 33-week training course for almost 500 young people who are not in education, employment or training (NEET).
Farzana Shah, Cloughside College head teacher, was overwhelmed by the support Sale and Premiership Rugby have provided.
She said: “It is fantastic to have the Sale Sharks players in working with our young people and it has been a brilliant way to end the half term.
“The work they have done has improved the children’s resilience and sportsmanship and over the six-week programme the kids have blossomed. It is amazing – everyone, even young people who might not necessarily have taken part in sports, have joined in.
“For them, meeting these rugby players is a day to remember.”
And Sale Sharks head of community operations Jonny Acheson explained how the process helped both the club and the children involved.
He said: “The programme visits young people before they take their next step in life, whether that is going to work or another school, we work with children that have had real challenges in their lives.
“It gives the players a chance to talk about all the great things rugby has brought to their lives.”
On The Front Foot, delivered by Premiership Rugby clubs, is an innovative education programme for 11-18 year olds aimed at using rugby’s core values to develop positive character traits through the use of rugby themed classroom and practical activities. It is funded by the Department for Education. For more information, please visit premiershiprugby.com/OnTheFrontFoot