Whether you dream of winning the world cup or just play for kicks, we’ve all experienced the benefits of taking part in sport. And, with the right approach, sport can help to improve the health and wellbeing of the whole community.
Burnage Rugby Football Club (RFC) near Manchester is a shining example of the influence sport can have to improve life beyond the playing field. In an area with few decent sporting facilities, the club stands out by providing exceptional facilities for rugby, cricket, golf, football and even kayaking.
As well as being one of the top amateur rugby clubs in the north west, Burnage RFC runs a range of sports programmes catering for the local community.
“Engaging with young people locally is really important to us and we actively encourage children to join our junior club,” says longstanding Burnage RFC member Stuart Hogg. “One example is our community coach, who delivers free rugby sessions to local schools and community groups.”
The club believes society’s problems are better prevented rather then cured, and that sport can stop young people starting down a path of addiction or crime, often caused by low self-esteem and boredom.
“As well as giving them something to do and a chance to get fit, the children develop skills in teamwork and competitiveness and get familiar with the feelings of success, persistence and achievement,” adds Stuart.
When an opportunity arose to increase the number of people who could use their facilities, Burnage approached Triodos Bank for a loan.
“I liked the relationship manager and was impressed how quickly he came to see us,” says Stuart. “He bought into what we were trying to achieve and I got the impression that so long as we were doing the right thing, Triodos would be there to support us.”
The money enabled Burnage RFC to install an all-weather pitch, dramatically increasing the amount of people who can use the facilities. While a bit of mud is no bad thing, grass pitches can only cope with around four hours’ use a week in the winter before becoming an unusable mud bath. By comparison the all weather pitch at Burnage, one of only two in the north of England, is capable of being used for 10 hours a day, seven days per week. The pitch, which opened in July, has already seen more than 25 different sports teams, 300 juniors, 50 students and more than 100 adults using it every week.
The pitch will allow Burnage RFC to carry on its inspiring work and engage even more local residents into sport; and, hopefully, a better society.
words Will Ferguson photography Graham Cooper
Burnage RFC has a rich history steeped in tradition, formed from the Old Boys of Burnage High School in 1936. The club has moved on a great deal since those early days, diversifying into a modern multi-sport complex. Burnage wants to be a focal point for the local community, providing diverse recreational opportunities to match the needs of the local residents. An emphasis on challenging activities is coupled with individual and team development, to help improve the social, physical and mental health of the wider community.
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