International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.
Here at Leeds Rhinos Foundation, we have a long and proud history of supporting equality, diversity and inclusion in our communities and providing opportunities for more Women & Girls to get involved with sporting activities. We are proud to support International Women’s Day, and of the work we do in supporting women and girls’ physical and mental health across the city.
Take a look below at some of the programmes that we are currently providing for women and girls with the aim of making a lasting and positive impact on women’s lives across the region and inspiring the next generation of female athletes, leaders and
GIRLS DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY
Back in September we proudly launched our first ever Leeds Rhinos Girls Development Academy side in partnership with Leeds City College and they have taken the College Rugby League game by storm, winning 11 and drawing the other of their 12 games played so far in this inaugural season.
They are consistently setting the standard and demonstrating the importance of establishing more pathways into the professional game, with 5 members of the currently involved in the Leeds Rhinos Women’s Academy set up.
Coached by Rhinos Women first team boss Lois Forsell, our Girls Development Academy is helping to cultivate future stars of the Women’s Super League by providing access to the highest standard of training facilities and coaching, while also supporting them in their education with full-time study at Leeds City College included as part of the dual-pathway programme.
For more information on how to get involved with our Leeds Rhinos Girls Development Academy and the opportunities available from September 2022, please click HERE.
GIRLS ETP DEVELOPMENT DAYS
We had a record number of Girls attend our Player Development Day at Kirkstall during the February half term break, which reflects the continued growth of the Women & Girls game at grassroots level and the fantastic work being carried out by Leeds Rhinos Foundation to support the community game.
There were more than 15 different community clubs represented by the 75 players in attendance, who enjoyed the opportunity to work alongside Leeds Rhinos Women Head Coach Lois Forsell and several members of her first team squad, including former Women of Steel Georgia Roche, new recruit Alex Barnes and rising star Beth Lockwood.
This opportunity to develop their core skills as part of the ETP programme, under the guidance of some of the game’s best coaches and players, is instrumental in raising standards throughout the game and helping these aspiring young female players to fulfil their potential. Further Girls’ Player Development Days will take place during the Easter and Summer Holidays, with more details set to be announced soon.
This year Leeds Rhinos Foundation will once again be delivering a comprehensive programme of Girls Rugby taster sessions throughout the charity’s Ambassador community clubs, which provide coaching on fundamental rugby league skills and fun games which introduce the sport to new players in a safe and welcoming environment.
During February, Leeds Rhinos Foundation hosted their first two Girls Rugby tasters of 2022 at East Leeds and Stanningley which were attended by more than 40 players, including 22 brand new faces which provided a major boost to both clubs in supporting their ever-growing Girls’ sections.
The next Girls Rugby taster session takes place tomorrow (Wednesday 9th March) at West Leeds Eagles ARLFC, with further tasters coming up with Drighlington Girls (Tuesday 15th March) and Farnley Falcons (Thursday 31st March) later in the month- click HERE for more details.
Women’s Rugby League is one of the fastest growing sports in Leeds with the number of Girls playing at a community club increasing by 53% since 2018, and there are now more opportunities than ever for girls to get involved in playing the game. Want to get involved? CLICK HERE to view our helpful guide of local clubs who are running Women & Girls’ teams this year.
Leeds Rhinos Foundation offer a wide range of dance opportunities throughout the year from regular junior classes in cheer and street dance with the Rhinestones Dance Academy, to holiday camps, parties and in-school dance sessions as part of the school sports plan.
Our Rhinestones Dance Academy has over 100 girls registered and engaging in the classes on a weekly basis, and this Thursday they will showcase their talents to thousands of Leeds Rhinos fans when they perform live on the Headingley Stadium pitch at half time of the Rhinos’ Super League clash with Hull FC.
Nicola Booth, Dance Development Officer at Leeds Rhinos Foundation, said: “There are so many benefits to dancing, at the Rhinestones girls are learning a skill, being part of team and being, gaining confidence through performances and being inspired by some fantastic female role models through the coaches and student teachers.
“Dance is special to me it lifts your mood, allows you to express yourself and is great way to keep fit and strong. Over the years I’ve shared my love for dance with hundreds of girls. Some come for the fun and social element and others come to progress technically and compete, but everyone is made to feel welcome; it’s a sisterhood.”
To keep up with all the latest news from our Rhinestones Dance Academy, visit their Facebook page HERE.
At Leeds Rhinos Foundation, we are proud to be a part of the Community Integrated Learning Disability Super League and through our own Leeds Rhinos LDSL team we are able to offer a place where both men and women with learning disabilities can come and enjoy rugby while developing both physically and socially. This inclusive form of the game provides unique opportunities and lifelong memories for the players, as well as a chance to make lots of new friends and enjoy living out their sporting dreams while representing their favourite Super League club.
For many years the Foundation have also had a long standing partnership with Aspire CBS, who are an organisation which supports adults with learning disabilities through their assisted living services, community hubs and resource centres. For many years the people accessing support have also enjoyed weekly Rugby League based sessions led by Leeds Rhinos Foundation coaches, and this year we even launched our first ever Try Club course exclusively for Aspire CBS customers, to support them with their physical wellbeing and encourage them to live happy, healthy lifestyles.
Jodie Boyd-Ward who is the only female player on the Leeds Rhinos Wheelchair’s team says her team is a great example of equality, but says more work needs to be done to attract more women to the game.
“If we use the Wheelchair team as an example – everybody is equal – it doesn’t matter your gender or how you identify you all play on the same team,” said the Welsh international. “For us to progress this further though I think we need to have more meaningful conversations about how we can break the bias in sport. There are a lot of misconceptions around women’s sport and people are often shocked to hear that I play on a mixed team in a sport that is so physical.
“There are around six players who play in Super League Wheelchair Rugby League and only four international players so there is more to be done to attract new female players to the game. We can do this by starting these conversations at grassroots level and women and men using their platforms to challenge biases and to celebrate female athletes.”