One of the big success stories of the Rugby League World Cup has been the number of young people engaging with the sport for the first time, and this was on full show at Headingley Stadium last week when thousands of school children attended the double header featuring England Women against Brazil and Papua New Guinea against Canada.
The noise made by the children, who came armed with home made signs of support and try cards, was incredible and made for one of the most unique atmospheres of the tournament.
The huge numbers of school children able to attend the fixtures was made possible thanks to the work of staff from Leeds Rhinos Foundation and the Rugby League World Cup and for the kind donation from Harrogate based managed IT services provider, Redcentric, their employees and partners Tango Networks, Acronis and Sippio, which enabled the schools to be able to transport the children to the stadium by coach.
Kieran Brady, Group Sales and Marketing Director, Redcentric said: “Redcentric is proud to support such a great initiative, seeing the smiles and enjoyment the children got from that day was worth every penny of our donation.”
Lucie Hutton, who is a teacher at Hovingham Primary School said it was a day to remember for the pupils at the school. She said: “I would like to say the biggest thank you for making it possible for our students to attend the games at Headingley. The children and staff loved every second of their afternoon. I am not sure I watched much of the rugby, although it was a great result, because watching our children enjoying the day was the best.
“They loved the awe and wonder of the stadium, the flags and anthem, the drummer, the fire flames, the clappers, the tv and media cameras, the high fives to the security team, not to mention watching live sport, which is something they have been learning about last half term.”
Kayleigh Wiechula, a teacher at Pudsey Primrose, was also full of praise for the experience. The school is part of the Owlcoates Trust, which brought 350 pupils from Pudsey Primrose, Calverley Parkside, Armley Park and Pudsey Waterloo.
“The children had the most amazing time at the game and loved that they spotted themselves and their friends of the TV, in news articles and were so amazed.
“We even had a number of children chosen to be mascots for the England team walking onto the pitch and they spoke about this with such confidence and pride, it was brilliant.
“I would like to thank all those involved in organising for local school children to attend the games, which for some will be a once in a lifetime event. It will be a magical memory from their school years which they will cherish forever.
“I also wanted to pass my thanks onto every steward and official that was at the game in and outside of the stadium. They were helpful, accommodating, welcoming and patient with the staff and all of the children. This made the running of the day smooth and effortless, and I know there are lots of individuals to thank so please do pass my gratitude onto them.”