Saturday 12th May was awards time at Hackney RFC.
The day kicked off with the different age groups playing tag rugby and then just before the awards presentation the parents, coaches and players played an energetic tag game that certainly got the blood pumping. Great fun.
The awards themselves were ably MC’d by the Junior Player Chairperson, Alistair Duncan, with the assistance of Soraya Adejare, speaker of Hackney Council. Awards included Outstanding Volunteer, Outstanding Coach and Outstanding Achievement – which was presented from the juniors to the Hackney Women's Team for their league-winning season. Well done ladies!
Each coach then presented medals to their respective teams, including the Most Improved Player sponsored by yours truly, Attic Self Storage.
The club supports 2 community sessions for years 7-13 and an after school club for years 5 and 6 at Gayhurst school, which has already helped boost the ranks of the main club.
The community sessions take place on Tuesdays at Petchey Academy and on Fridays at Haggerston Park. Attendances at Petchey range between 15 and 20 and at Haggerston between 10 and 15. Some of the young people attend both sessions and some are new recruits to rugby. Around half to a third are girls, which is great to see.
Hackney RFC have 7 coaches supporting these sessions, Owain, Yinka, Eman, Sarah, Will, Carl and Yassine. 4 of them are youngsters who have come up through the club and are now fully qualified coaches.
Owain, Sarah, Will, Carl and Yassine also coach club sides on Sundays. They lost Reece, one of the young coaches, when he was appointed as a community rugby coach to Middlesex by the RFU. He still pops in from time to time to keep in touch and inspire the kids.
One of the girls was selected to attend Saracens Centre of Excellence – she has just begun training with the womens' team at Hackney and has represented Middlesex for the last 2 seasons. A couple of weeks ago she took part in a training session supported by Saracens players.
3 sisters who started at the community sessions have transferred to the club. The eldest sister played for Middlesex this season. The family involvement is a real bonus to the girl’s section as the sisters are involved in the U13s, U15s and U18s.
HRFC offers peer mentoring as a route to coaching, engages with the London Youth City Leaders youth volunteering scheme and supports young people doing Duke of Edinburgh Awards. Currently, they have 7 active City Leaders planning a summer family festival. HRFC are hoping to see 3 of them qualify as children's referees to support this event. 3 young people are on the peer mentoring pathway. Across the club there are 4 young people gaining credit for DoE Awards volunteering for club activities.
An objective is to encourage young people with challenging home circumstances to become regular club and community players so that they learn to manage their own behaviour and potentially become peer mentors and referees in their own right.
Apart from Attic Self Storage chipping in, London Irish have helped support the sessions financially over the season. They needed help to meet diversity targets required by their funders and Hackney RFC was only too pleased to assist as their participants and coaches come from a variety of social, ethnic and religious backgrounds.
It’s really encouraging to see such a diverse mixture of people coming together to teach, learn and promote rugby in the Hackney area. As a local company, Attic Self Storage is delighted to be involved in such a positive ongoing programme. To find out more about how to get involved with the HRFC youth programme click here.