Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Changing Lives Through Sport

Dick Gibson Ambassador Festival of Rugby League

No ALT tag specifiedThe 6th annual Dick Gibson Ambassador Festival of Rugby sponsored by Charlie Brett's demonstrated that community rugby is thriving in the city of Leeds with over 500 children enjoying a festival of rugby on Sunday at Kippax Welfare.

A total of 18 community clubs from Leeds Rhinos Foundation's Club Ambassador scheme turned out for the festival, which was once again supported by the Gibson family through their Leeds restaurant Charlie Brett's.

Players from the Leeds Rhinos including Kallum Watkins, Danny McGuire, Ryan Hall, Ash Handley, Brett Ferres and Carl Ablett were on hand to meet the 52 teams playing on the day and help out with the presentations to help inspire the next generation of players.

"It's great to come down and support this event as players, to see the kids having fun and playing the game they love," said Watkins.

"That's what we have worked on for many years now at the Rhinos with the community stuff we are involved in, getting more kids to play the sport.

"These clubs are a great example of getting the kids to grow and play the game. We have obviously had a lot of talent from these clubs that have come into the Leeds ranks as well, so these kids are here to have fun, enjoy the sport and it's great for the community to have a lot of people here in support of the game as a whole."

For the first time in 2016, the festival was held at Ambassador Club Kippax Welfare, who have been preparing the club's grounds in preparation for hosting the tournament through the RLF's 'Give back to your club' initiative led by club Ambassador Andy Lynch.

Lynch, who attended the festival supporting Kippax Welfare's juniors commented on the impact of the festival for his former club: "We applied to the RFL for a chance to win some money to go towards the club, so we got it out there and had a bit of a volunteer's day through the RFL's 'Give back to your club' initiative and we had 55 volunteers up here and got a fair bit of work done that day. We've still got a fair bit to do but you can already see the difference around the place and it all helps as well with holding the festival here today.

"Rhinos are the best out there at doing things like this and Sam Horner has played a massive part in that and why not let the kids come and play and have the added incentive of having some money come back to the clubs? So everyone is a winner, the Leeds Rhinos Foundation put this event on and the grassroots clubs benefit from doing it."

Community Club Development Officer Sam Horner, who helped organise the event with the 35 community clubs in the Leeds Rhinos Foundation Ambassador Scheme added: "We have had 7s right through to 11s running through the morning and afternoon…. It's just the cohesion of all the community coming together to make this a great event.

"We have to extend a massive thanks to Kippax Welfare, as you know we all got flooded out on Boxing Day down at Kirkstall where we usually hold the event and Kippax have stepped in. It's been a fantastic event today and the venue has been superb, we have had 18 clubs and 52 teams who are all part of the growing Ambassador Scheme which now has 35 members."

Richard Gibson, who is son of the late Dick Gibson, who the festival is named after commented on the event: "It's something my dad did all his life, played and after that got involved in the administration and the coaching and became an honorary life member at Bramley Rugby League where he scouted and signed a lot of players, so nice to continue a Rugby League legacy in the family supporting this event.

"We are very heavy within the community at Charlie Brett's and the support we get form the Rhinos is excellent so from our point of view it's just brilliant to be part of the Leeds scene and we are Leeds through and through so supporting these sort of events is really important to us."

Horner added: "Charlie Brett's have been really supportive of this event, and we now have some really good ideas about how we take this forward and make it even bigger and better. The Gibson family have fed all of the children today and have just been a massive part of the community itself and are really keen to get on board again next year which is great."

For more information on the Club Ambassador Scheme contact Sam.Horner@leedsrhinosfoundation.org

Or visit http://www.leedsrhinosfoundation.org/sport/community_clubs.php

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