NEARLY 80 children from a mixed ethnic background, many of them supported by parents and relatives, will be at Bower Fold, Stalybridge on Sunday to watch their first rugby league game between Oldham RLFC and Leigh Centurions.
Six teams of 13, two from Greenhill and one each from Westwood, Alt, St Patrick’s and Werneth primary schools will take part in a tag-rugby curtain-raiser.
There will be too many children to walk out with the Roughyeds’ team, but they will line up to welcome Scott Naylor’s boys on to the pitch before doing a lap of honour at half-time.
Said club chairman Chris Hamilton: “It will be fantastic to see so many children at the game from local primary schools. We are looking forward to welcoming them.
“It’s an endorsement of the work the club is doing in the community and it will be fantastic to see children who are not traditionally brought up in rugby league having a good time playing the best sport in the world.”
The primary schools involved form the Hathershaw College sports cluster and Hathershaw is no stranger to Oldham RLFC, regularly providing its pupils as ball boys and ball girls on match days.
Danny Newall, the club’s community coach, has been going into the schools regularly for the past few months, introducing the children to the oval ball and to tag rugby.
Tournaments were held at Hathershaw, followed by finals nights at Whitebank Stadium, which remains the club’s base even though games are now played at Bower Fold, Stalybridge.
Said Lorna Phillip, assistant principal at Hathershaw, who is heavily involved in the sports cluster: “The children absolutely love their tag-rugby. Thanks to Danny (Newall) and the Oldham club, we’ve had some brilliant tournaments involving the various schools and we promised the children we would take them to an Oldham game.
“Most of them have never seen a rugby league game or visited a proper stadium. They are really excited.
“Several of their teachers and head teachers have also developed an interest in what we’re doing and we expect some of them to come to the game as well as parents and other relatives.
“It will be a fantastic experience for these children.”
Also at the game will be Kelly Mayers and a group of children from Urban Angels, a dance group from Limeside who use Whitebank as their training base. Backed by their mascot, Foxy, they will have a bucket collection to raise funds for their next two competitions. ahead of an appearance at Bower Fold before the end of the season when they will do a routine on the pitch.
Said Chris Hamilton: “Kelly and her team do a fantastic job with up to 50 children, teaching them dance and entering them in competitions up and down the country. We’ll be delighted to see them on Sunday and to have them back before the end of the season to show us a few routines.”