After-School Fun We Simply Cannot Afford to Drop
Byline: Jenny Rees Education Reporter enn y. r ees@wme . co . uk
INSPIRATIONAL after-school courses that provide children with key skills and a chance to meet their heroes are in danger of closing because of the problems in Welsh rugby. For three years children in more than 100 schools around Newport, Monmouth and Torfaen have been working with Newport Rugby Club on the Gateway Rugby project. Bringing together education and sport, the scheme has also received great support from children, parents and teachers for the confidence and self esteem it promotes in children.
But the financial problems suffered by the WRU, which part funds the project, have meant that Gateway now has a pounds 60,000 shortfall, and local children will be the first to suffer. Gateway Rugby operations manager Mike Sage said that just as the scheme was looking to expand into more primary and secondary schools, a lack of funding may mean that they have to reduce the service. ``Our development officers have been visiting the schools every fortnight and have built up quality relationships with the staff and pupils. ``They are a very positive influence on children, both in terms of social wellbeing and for educational benefits.
``When the professional Newport players visit the schools, these role models are also promoting positive lifestyle messages.''
Janet Harris, sales manager at Newport, said youngsters are brought to the club and taken to the changing rooms, with the sound of the crowd coming from speakers to give the children a sense of atmosphere.
With each of the players' shirts hung above them, the pupils are asked to imagine they are that player and a video of the captain giving a team talk is then played to the whole group, as if they were about to step out on to the pitch.
``That speech is so motivating and encourages the children to give 100%, and not to be fooled into thinking they can't achieve.
``He tells the children they can set their minds to anything, and it is a very emotional message. …