Our Learning Disability Super League Returns
Hundreds of players in the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League lived their dreams this weekend, taking part in their first major festival events in over 18 months.
Wakefield Trinity, Hull KR and Warrington Wolves all generously hosted special events for the ground-breaking inclusive sports programme. Bringing together eleven clubs, including Leeds Rhinos, Castleford Tigers, Hull FC, York City Knights, Wigan Warriors, St Helens and Widnes Vikings, and seeing a festival debut for Featherstone Rovers, this was a weekend to remember.
The Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League is world-first programme that gives people who have learning disabilities and autism the chance to play a specially adapted version of rugby league for the clubs that they love. Developed in partnership by the Rugby Football League, Super League and the national social care charity Community Integrated Care, the programme has enabled more than 200 people to represent the clubs that they love.
Michael Duffy, who plays for Leeds Rhinos, said:
“I loved being out with all of my teammates and to have the chance to play against Wakefield Trinity, Featherstone Rovers and Castleford Tigers. We’ve missed this!
During lockdown, we enjoyed doing some online training with our Skills Journal and then slowly we got back to full training. To be now back playing with my friends and teammates in a big festival has been amazing.”
John Hughes, Director of Partnerships and Communities at Community Integrated Care, said:
“After such a difficult 18 months, this weekend’s festivals provided truly memorable experiences for every player. We saw some incredible skill and effort on display, and there was a brilliant sense of camaraderie on the field – with every team really supporting each other.
Ultimately, this programme is about even more than playing Rugby League – it is a platform for the players to do something they love, build confidence, learn new skills and make lasting friendships. We were delighted to see all of this again, with the return of the festivals.
Our thanks go to the RFL and Super League, every participating club, coach and volunteer, and of course the players and their families, for making this possible once again.”
Chris Godfrey, Social and Inclusion Manager at the RFL, said:
“Sunday marked the return to mass participation events in nearly 2 years for our learning disability communities. We have cautiously returned from the pandemic not knowing 100% how the landscape would lie. It was hugely encouraging to see not only the return for all those faces that have been part of the Community Integrated Care Super League before, but so many new ones as well. It not only shows the enthusiasm from the participants to get back to playing but highlights the tireless hard work from all involved parties, none more so than the community foundations we have in Rugby League.
This year, after the previous year with no face-to-face activity, participation numbers have continued to rise. As such, we know it is more important than ever for our participants to reap all the benefits of playing rugby league to counter the impact of Covid 19 on their lives. With all these new faces we are hugely optimistic about the ongoing success of the programme.
Rugby League is a vehicle to insight change in peoples lives, this can be seen no clearer than in our communities with learning disabilities and long may this fantastic partnership continue.”