Organised by former Super League title sponsor, Engage Mutual, in association with the Rugby Football League (RFL), the aim of the initiative is to help clubs affordably improve their facilities and attract volunteers by holding action events.
Two clubs, Birstall Victoria near Leeds and Burtonwood Bulldogs near Warrington, who were judged to have most successfully embraced the concept and engaged their community of players and supporters, each received £2,500, while an additional 12 clubs were awarded £1000 apiece for their involvement.
Speaking of the prize Paul Frain, Chairman of Birstall Victoria, said:
“The money will have a massive impact on the club – it costs £500 a year to secure the use of the pitches. That use will be safeguarded for the next five years which will allow us to focus funds on improving other areas of the club.”
Peter McConnell, Chairman of Burtonwood added:
“This will allow us to invest not just into the club, but into the community as a whole, safeguarding the future of the club, which serves the community – a massive positive impact.”
A total of 31 community rugby league clubs across the UK held action weekends where players, fans, coaches and members of the local community were invited to lend a hand and help improve the club’s facilities.
Following their volunteering events each participating club was asked to submit a questionnaire to highlight the good work which had been carried out.
The questionnaires were then reviewed by a judging panel made up of members from initiative sponsor, Engage Mutual, The Rugby League Facilities Trust and Rugby League Cares.
After much deliberation Birstall Victoria and Burtonwood Bulldogs were chosen as winners due to their ‘outstanding’ events. In holding their event Birstall Victoria welcomed over 100 volunteers of all ages and, helped by Leeds Rhinos’ mascot, Ronnie the Rhino, made a number of improvements, including the installation of pitch barriers. Burtonwood Bulldogs were joined by over 80 volunteers who helped to spruce up the community center where the club is based.
Those clubs not successful in winning the main prize were entered into a draw with 10 winners each receiving £1,000 to boost club coffers. The winners were East Leeds, Chorley Panthers, Hull Isberg, Stanningley, Thatto Heath, Thornhill Trojans, Wigan St Patrick’s, St Josephs, Haydock and Birkenshaw. Newsome Panthers and Leigh Miners Rangers were also awarded £1,000 as special commendation for their efforts.
Representatives from each club were presented with their awards at the RFL Engage Mutual volunteer awards held before the Stobart Super League Grand Final in Manchester on 6 October.