Leeds Rhinos Foundation provides summer sport for Army children in Germany

Earlier this month, coaches from Leeds Rhinos Foundation travelled to the Normandy Barracks in Paderborn to continue the charity’s legacy delivering a Summer Camp for more than 50 military children whose parents are currently serving in the region.

For the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, staff made the journey out to North-West Germany and joined forces with the British Forces Germany to deliver a busy week of multi-sports activities in order to keep the kids active and engaged in some summer sport during the school holidays.

This partnership was first launched back in 2014, and ever since the Foundation have sent representatives out to the garrison to provide this summer provision as a show of support for the amazing work being done by our Armed Forces personnel overseas.

As well as enjoying some rugby league coaching to improve their skills and learn the basics of the game, participants were also given the opportunity to try out a variety of different sports- ranging from Dodgeball and Cricket to Football and Tennis, with something for everyone to enjoy and plenty of new friendships forged amongst the groups.

The five-day camp was once again deemed a huge success, with Emma Twyford from the Army Welfare Service (AWS) expressing her gratitude to Leeds Rhinos Foundation for providing such a positive experience for the military children.

“We are delighted to have continued our long-standing partnership with Leeds Rhinos Foundation this year, and it was pleasing to see the children having such a fun time and getting involved in so many different sports,” she commented.

“Here at the AWS we encourage personal and social development and with the multi-sports sessions delivered by the Foundation it helps the young people to work on their teamwork, improve their communication skills, build their self esteem and increase their confidence.

“It’s great to get them out and about during the summer break, which can often be a frustrating period for the children being so far away from home with limited opportunities to connect with others. Keeping them energised and running around playing the games is great for their physical health and fitness, but having that escape from the normal daily ritual also has important benefits for their mental wellbeing too.”

Back on home soil the Foundation are busy delivering their busiest ever programme of Summer Camps for hundreds of local children across Leeds and the surrounding region, but Disability Officer Ed Bates- who enjoyed his first experience of delivering sessions at the barracks in Germany- says that it is important to keep those Forces kids abroad involved too.

“We were delighted with how well the children took to the activities and it seems like they’ve all really enjoyed themselves, with lots of laughter and smiles on faces.”

“By the time we had reached day two, the children were already organising their own rugby games and practising some of the new skills they had learned with us during their free time, which was amazing to see. We even had one girl coming along in her Leeds Rhinos shirts every day which was a big surprise to me, as I didn’t think we’d run into any supporters so far away from home.

“It’s been an honour to have been invited by British Forces Germany to deliver the camp and give something back to the military community, hopefully the partnership will continue to flourish and we can look forward to returning next year to give more forces children the opportunity to experience our Summer Camps whilst they’re out there.”

In addition to helping the families of those serving in the Armed Forces abroad with the delivery of the multi-sports summer camp in Germany, Leeds Rhinos will also be honouring service men and women at home with Armed Forces Day celebrations at this Friday’s game against Warrington Wolves at Headingley Stadium.

As part of their community matchday activities, Leeds Rhinos Foundation have invited 20 children from the Yorkshire Army cadets to come get involved by waving the big flags as part of the pre-match entertainment on the pitch.

Tickets for the clash are available to buy online at tickets.therhinos.co.uk, starting at just £24 for adults, £16 for concessions and £12 for juniors. You can also phone the ticket office on 0371 423 1315 or purchase in person from the Club Shop at Headingley Stadium.

There is also an exclusive ticket discount for both serving troops and veterans, as the club is offering tickets in any area of the ground for just £10. This offer is only available over the phone and in store as ID is required.