Inevitably, most of the news coming out of the club at the moment is the result of the fallout from the announcement back in late January of the appointment of a new Director of Rugby – speculation over the new coaching set up, the names of players retained and released and details of Rowland Winter’s vision for Coventry over the next couple of years.
And of course whilst all this is going on and with so much uncertainty surrounding the structure of the management team and the club itself, Coventry has also had to battle to maintain it’s National 1 status, something that the recent win against Cinderford has almost certainly ensured.
I think it’s fair to say that it has been one of the more unsettling periods in Coventry’s recent history but I do believe there is now a feeling of relief that change is on the horizon and, given the real need for that change, what we are now seeing is a definite move in the right direction.
And given the emphasis on what’s happening to the present squad and the management of the club, it’s easy to overlook another hugely important side of Coventry RFC – it’s community work and in particular the work Cov undertakes with youngsters in and out of schools to promote the game and to develop the wider key skills which aren’t always embedded into the national curriculum.
It was, therefore, great to see a feature in the Coventry Telegraph this week on Coventry’s Easter Coaching Camps, promoting the two programmes, each of three days, and giving Matt Price the opportunity to ‘sell’ them to the wider community through the local media. It’s a canny move on the part of the club, given this amounts to free advertising and does the club no harm at all to be seen working with the youngsters of the city in such a positive manner.
Having taught in inner ring schools all my working life, I can’t overstress the importance of the work Matt Price and his team do in supporting schools in developing those skills that are sometimes pushed to one side in the scramble to achieve success and a favourable position in the local and national league tables of academic excellence.
For many kids, Maths and English, as important as they are, don’t always lend themselves to the development of a sense of happiness and well being. Through sport children, whatever their backgrounds, can be involved in skills such as team building, leadership and decision making that aren’t always available to all children in a classroom environment. These are the skills that will determine how successful a lot of children will be once they leave school, rather than how good they are at solving quadratic equations or offering a literary criticism of one of Shakespeare’s sonnets.
If this really is our city, our club, then there is nothing more important than the community outreach work that the club presently undertakes. It’s an example of community cohesion at it’s most effective. For 6 hours a day, over three days, these youngster will be engrossed in a range of different activities, all designed in some way not only to promote the game of rugby but also to develop their interest in sport – helping to keep them fit and active at the same time.
They will learn together, play together, in a structured and controlled environment. They will have to work in a disciplined way and in one that allows them freedom to express themselves in their own individual ways whilst ensuring they take some responsibility for their own actions.
And as an alternative to being indoors for all that time staring at the television and playing games on an X Box or PlayStation – well, as a parent, it’s a no brainer too.
And if that isn’t enough, there is a long term benefit to the club as well. Youngsters who might never have otherwise set foot in the Butts Park Arena spend three days there, dropped off and collected by parents who will then receive complementary tickets for the next home game (against Darlington). Never mind Wasps, these kids will have walked on the hallowed turf and, for a few, it will hopefully be the beginning of a lifelong journey with Cov. It’s the best marketing Coventry do…by a distance.
Fortunately, Rowland Winter has said that not only is it something that he regards as important, it is also something he wants to develop further. Just what that involves isn’t yet clear, but wouldn’t it be good in a couple of years time to drive past the ground on a Sunday morning and see the car park heaving as parents drop off their children for some organised mini rugby activities? We are obviously at a huge disadvantage as a result of having just the one pitch, bit if we can run Easter camps…
Matt and his fellow team-mates – Chad Thorne, George Oliver, Caolan Ryan, Rob Knox and Dan Rundle – deserve huge praise for the work they do. It is something that probably doesn’t get the full recognition from supporters it deserves.
And lest we forget, Matt Price also works closely with children in local special schools, children who can’t always access the normal curriculum and for whom these sort of links provide the opportunity to partake in structured programmes that offer the opportunity to benefit from the sorts of skills already mentioned in a safe and secure environment. All children have that entitlement and Coventry ensure that is the case.
With Matt Price hopefully staying on next season, the community work the club does is clearly in good hands.
Good luck to Matt and everyone else involved in the Easter Camps.
Carry on camping…
And just because I can….it ‘s taken me as long looking at all the Carrying on Camping clips as it has to write the post!