Building starts at the beginning. Four years ago, Elk Valley RFC started a Rookie Rugby program that had 20 children attend.
But thanks to the hard work from President Min Merritt and Rookie Rugby coaches James, Jeff, Army, Brendan, Liz, Dani, Becca, Jessie, Min, Viny, Tony, John, and Jocelyn, as well as working closely with local schools, the Club has seen 90 kids aged 3-12 sign up for the program in 2022. The program is run at cost – the Club doesn’t make money from it – and the children get a t-shirt.
“The amount of work our Rookie Rugby coaches have put into the Program is exceptional,” said Dudman. “There was a huge gap, especially here in the valley, where Rugby wasn’t played in schools at all. If you don’t start looking for new, younger Members and build the Club from the bottom up, in a couple of years we would be seriously struggling.”
“It was awesome to see his smile afterwards!”
The program is more than just introducing children to Rugby. It is more than learning new skills and having fun. It is about showing that there is a place for everyone in Rugby, no matter their size or ability.
“One of the boys who came to Rookie Rugby has always been hesitant about playing because he is small. He was worried about getting hurt,” Dudman said.
“Min [Merritt, Elk Valley RFC president] convinced him to come and watch the Senior Men’s team play. Our captain, Sorla, is a half back and weighs about 100-lbs wet. He witnessed that you don’t have to be a big, bruising 250-lb forward to make an impact in a game. You can be that small, nimble, skilful player and make a huge difference. It was awesome to see his smile afterwards.”