It was a day to remember for hundreds of people from across Leeds on Wednesday, as Leeds Rhinos Foundation hosted a spectacular Community Engagement Day to mark the official opening of the new Emerald Stand.
Following the recent £45 million redevelopment of Emerald Headingley Stadium, the official charity of Leeds Rhinos provided those in attendance with the opportunity to emulate their heroes by playing on the hallowed turf.
The day began with a historic Aspire CBS Tag festival, with more than 150 people taking part in a fun and inclusive disability rugby tournament, which was supported by Chadwick Lawrence. After some fantastic games, Middleton/Pudsey were crowned winners of the Chadwick Lawrence Cup.
Following the completion of the Tag competition, over 600 school children from primary schools across Leeds arrived at the stadium to take part in a mass participation rugby event, with a series of skills-based activities led by staff from Leeds Rhinos Foundation and volunteers from Key Partners Emerald Publishing.
Miss Watkins, a teacher at Kippax Greenfield Primary School, commented: “The kids absolutely loved today. It’s been an incredible experience to come to a massive stadium and get to experience the whole thing.
“Getting the chance for them to play different sports is great. We’ve got a couple of children who said rugby wasn’t for them, but actually being introduced to the sport today through these fun games today has meant they’ve been able to take part in it and really enjoy their day.”
Leeds Rhinos players Stevie Ward, Dom Crosby, Brad Dwyer, Trent Merrin, Jack Walker and Tom Holdroyd also came along to meet the participants, sign autographs and take photos.
Rhinos captain Merrin said: “For me as a kid, I would have absolutely loved to have meet my idols and run around on the home field. It’s great to engage with the community, especially the young kids and it’s fantastic to see them all enjoying it with smiles on their faces.”
Emerald Headingley Stadium remains the only sporting venue in the world with joint access to two international level stadiums, and the Community Engagement Day also saw the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation lead 500 children through different games and activities on the cricket pitch.
Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s Chief Operating Officer, Bob Bowman commented: “We were delighted to welcome over 1,200 adults and children to take part in activities on the rugby and cricket pitches as part of the celebrations.
“The feedback we’ve ad from those who took part and the parents and teachers has been outstanding. We believe Emerald Headingley is at the heart of our community, so it was particularly special to open up the stadium to all these people to mark the opening of the Emerald Stand.”
To see the full Community Engagement Day photo gallery, click HERE.
Watch the video below to see how the day unfolded…