Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ Community Trust, in partnership with Sky Try, delivered the inaugural Sky Try 9s Secondary School rugby competition at Belle Vue Stadium last week, with over 200 children taking part.
The programme saw young rugby league players from six schools in the Wakefield district participating at the Wildcats’ stadium across three days, and has been developed to increase the level of competitiveness of rugby league within the schools, as well to get more children involved in the sport.
With children from years seven, eight and nine competing on separate days, the competition provided them all with the opportunity to showcase their skills against their peers in a nine-a-side format, and Wildcats’ Lead Community Officer James Stephenson was delighted with the way the week went.
“The whole week was a huge success, especially given that this was our first year running the programme so it was a bit of a pilot scheme really,” he said.
“But it went better than we expected it to, all the feedback we’ve got so far from teachers and schools has been fantastic, and we’ve already got more schools asking to be involved next year.
“It’s really pleasing to see so many new kids taking part who haven’t played the game before, because that’s what it’s all about really, getting as many young people involved and enjoying rugby league.”
While the primary focus of the competition was to grow the sport within local schools, there were trophies and winners medals at stake each day, which were presented by first team players Danny Kirmond, Jordan Crowther and Liam Finn.
And having seen his Crofton Academy side win the tournaments in both the year seven and year nine age groups, PE teacher Alex Miller highlighted the importance of involving the first team players, as well as praising the week as a whole.
“It gives them that role model to look up to, and with the free tickets the children get to come and watch first team matches, it gives them that person to aspire to and it’s brilliant to see. The players have got busy lives as well, so for them to come down means a lot to everybody,” he stated.
“The week’s been brilliant, not only do they get the afternoon out of school that everyone loves but they’re so keen on rugby so it’s brilliant for them to come down and play in a professional stadium and do something they love, because they do love rugby and now there’s more live on TV they can watch more and events like this are just fantastic.”
Despite seeing his sides enjoy less on field success throughout the week, former Wildcats’ player and current Hemsworth Academy coach Mark Barlow was equally as complimentary about the programme.
“It’s massive for their development, some of these boys haven’t played rugby league before and they just want to come and enjoy the game which is exactly what they’ve done,” he said.
“Obviously it’s not in a 13-a-side environment, it’s a lot quicker and it’s new to these boys and hopefully they’ll take a lot from it.”
Congratulations to all participants throughout the week, we look forward to linking up again next year and partnering our Embed the Pathway programme with the Secondary Schools.
The 2016 winners and runners up:
Y7 Sky Try Winners: Crofton Academy
Y7 Sky Try Runners-Up: De Lacy Academy
Y8 Sky Try Winners: Outwood Academy
Y8 Sky Try Runners-Up: Minsthorpe Community College
Y9 Sky Try Winners: Crofton Academy
Y9 Sky Try Runners-Up: De Lacy Academy