With more and more families struggling as the cost-of-living crisis deepens, a new project is being launched this month in Hull to encourage children to try out rugby – and they will be given a hot meal and help with homework at the same time.

The ‘Try Rugby’ Saturday Club is a joint project between West Hull Rugby League club, the 360 Grassroots Foundation charity and Active Humber.

It aims to give boys and girls, whether already playing or completely new to the sport, the opportunity to engage with rugby league.  It follows a recent report which found that the Covid-19 pandemic and now the cost-of-living crisis has seen 2,600 grassroots clubs shutting down across the UK.  More than half of parents said affordability got in the way of playing and the number of families who couldn’t afford kit almost doubled.

Anji Gardiner, Trustee at West Hull Rugby League Club, who is leading the project, said:

“We all know how important physical activity at grassroots level can be to improve both physical and mental health and it has the added benefit of bringing communities together, so we wanted to find a way to engage young people in sport without placing any extra financial burden on families.

“We narrowed it down to three main aspects: ‘Get Started, Be Part and Keep Going.’   So, first of all, we’re going to help them get started with basic kit and/or equipment.  Then we’ll focus on them being part of a team.  Sport is great for making new friends and we want to ensure that everyone looks the same on game day and no-one is left behind or feels different.  And finally, we want to make sure nothing prevents them from continuing to play, whether it’s the cost of subs or new boots.”

With £6,700 of funding secured from Sport England alongside support from the 360 Grassroots Foundation, the club is free of charge.

Adrian Hunter, Chair of the 360 Grassroots Foundation, set up by 360 Chartered Accountants to promote participation in grassroots sports for underprivileged children, said:

“We are delighted to be involved in this project with West Hull and Active Humber as part of the wider engagement of our 360 Grassroots Foundation. We would be happy to assist West Hull with any potential grant funding to help disadvantaged children in the area join the project. We don’t want children to miss out on this project if, for example, they are unable to fund kit or boots due to the financial challenges that families are currently facing. We would love to help wherever we can.”

Meanwhile Nicola Massingham, Head of Development at Active Humber, said:

“We want everyone to live and feel better, so we are delighted to be part of this fantastic project.  The idea is that children will undertake an hour’s physical activity of some sort, either rugby training as part of the club training or another activity provided by local sports coaches or groups.  They will then come in for their dinner, which again is all part of building a community, and receive support to do their homework. “

Anji Gardiner continued:

“We believe the homework element is also key to this project’s success.  Bringing team mates together has a number of benefits.  Children have to attend school whereas they choose to come to rugby, so we want to channel their enthusiasm and motivation for sport into their learning.  It may also be that some families don’t have the capability or confidence to support their children, particularly families where educational attainment may be low or English may not be their first language.  And, as a bonus, the project will increase friendships across different age groups, which is vital to bringing comm unities together.”

If you would like to take part, please contact the club directly on 01482 502609 or contact Anji Gardiner via email at anjigardiner@gmail.com.  Meanwhile, for all the latest details, follow West Hull Rugby League club on Facebook and Twitter.