Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Leeds Rhinos Foundation

Changing Lives Through Sport

Leeds Rhinos Foundation's Ambassador Festival took place for the 7th year in 2017
Ambassador festival legacy continues with two festivals in 2017
21 August 2017, 5:17
By Dan Phillis
Over 1000 junior players from 35 ambassador clubs have turned out for the 7th Annual Ambassador Festivals this month supported by Charlie Brett's Fish Restaurant and Naturally Best Catering.
For the first time in 2017 the Ambassador festivals were split over two weekends with a festival at Leeds Rugby Academy on Sunday accompanied by a festival at Hunslet Warriors and Hunslet Club Parkside on the 13th August who followed on from Kippax Welfare in hosting the event in 2016.

New to the festival line up in 2017 was also the inclusion of the minis under 5s age group and girls under 12s and 14s age groups, who were invited to take part, along with LS27 Spartans Under 8s, who attended their first ever rugby festival.

Long term supporter of Leeds Rhinos Foundation, Naturally Best Catering sponsored the first festival on 13th August, providing food for all players taking part in the day in the under 10, 11 and 12s age groups along with six ambassador clubs with under 12 and 14s girl's teams.

The event also included appearances from Leeds Rhinos stars Danny McGuire, Jimmy Keinhorst, Anthony Mullally, Kallum Watkins and former Hunslet Warrior Liam Sutcliffe, who met players and took part in the stage presentations at the event.

Speaking at the event Sutcliffe said:

"It's good to see the girl's teams taking part this year, there has been a lot of talk that they want to try and grow rugby league for women and girls and women's sport in general, so it's great to see so many young girls down here and hopefully they can really pick up the sport and enjoy it."

Community Club Development Officer Sam Horner said:

"For the last few years we have taken the Ambassador Festival away from its regular home at Leeds Rugby Academy in Kirkstall and shared it around the community clubs with Kippax last year and now Hunslet Club and Hunslet Warriors co-hosting this year which has been another huge success."

In the spirit of the ambassador scheme two old rivals in Hunslet Club and Warriors came together to host the first of this years' festivals attended by over 500 players.

"Bringing two clubs together through the Ambassador Scheme to host the festival is what the Ambassador Festival is all about. After the flood damage at Leeds Rugby Academy forced us to move the festival away from Kirkstall we landed on a new concept to share the festival around to benefit the clubs, which is now another legacy of the festival," added Horner.

A week later the Dick Gibson Ambassador Festival then returned to familiar ground at Leeds Rugby Academy with the Charlie Brett's Ambassador Festival on Sunday 20th this time attended by the under 7, 8 and 9 age groups.

Another one of the legacies of the ambassador scheme saw new club LS27 Spartans, who formed in September 2016 attend their first festival in the under 8s.

The club, who are based in Morley were launched with the support of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation and played out their first ever rugby league fixtures at the festival.

Team manager at LS27 Spartans Janet Blackburn said:

"It's been really exciting, we are really pleased the Rhinos have let us join in, the boys were a bit nervous because it was their first ever game but they have really dug deep and played well so we are really proud of them."

"It's looking good, it's been a tough year because obviously, a brand new club, you have to start with all your new coaches and you have got to get the whole team set up but the boys have stuck with and some of the boys have been here since day one and they are still with us now and today has given them a real big confidence boost and they have enjoyed it which is the main thing."

For photo galleries of this years ambassador festivals visit the Leeds Rhinos Foundation Facebook page.
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