Our volunteers helping to shape RLWC2021
The Rugby League World Cup 2021 Advisory Group includes a team of volunteers with learning disabilities, who are advising RLWC2021 officials and Tournament organisers on ways to make the international event more accessible and inclusive for all.
In partnership with the Rugby League World Cup 2021, Rugby Football League and Super League, people we support have been given specialist mentoring and development opportunities, designed to fulfil their potential, promote independence, and make dreams come true.
Meeting together virtually every month, the group discuss ways to improve the experiences of people with learning disabilities accessing live sporting events and match days. From players in the Learning Disability Super League to people who had no prior interest in rugby league, the group have diverse interests and offer differing valued perspectives.
Sharing their individual lived experiences of navigating live events with a learning disability, they’re able to think through practical advice, and offer solutions on difficult topics. This unique experience ensures that they are best placed to help the Tournament organisers achieve their objectives of being the biggest and most inclusive World Cup, ever.
St Helens star Jodie Cunningham has been involved with the Advisory Group ahead of the tournament kicking off in Newcastle this October. She says: “The inclusive volunteers on the RLWC Advisory Group continue to provide invaluable insight into how we can make this World Cup as inclusive as possible with great ideas and feedback from their lived experience. Our Advisory Group has everyone from rugby league fanatics to people new to the sport and their range of experiences means that as a World Cup we can tailor the spectator and volunteer experience to be as enjoyable as possible for everyone.
“The perfect example of this is with the tournament spectator guides that are being produced to support all our travelling fans, these have been reviewed and inputted into by our advisory group to ensure people have the information they need ahead of match day to enjoy world class Rugby League to the fullest.”
Ben Hardman, Rugby Football League Volunteer Officer welcomed the input of the Community Integrated Care representatives in the group, he said: “The Advisory Group is an essential part to the build up to our tournament. Our bold and brave volunteers’ advice will help us to achieve a tournament which is authentic, world class and inclusive.
“There will be spectator guides that will be created to help improve the experience of fans on game days. This was brought to the Advisory Group and we discussed what could be useful to include in these spectator guides. Hopefully from the advice from the group the content would help everyone feel confident and safe when arriving at venues.
“It was suggested from the Advisory Group that a great way to create engagement with the schools and our younger audiences is to get them to create the tournament mascot, which is currently running. This has seen large engagement which has exceeded expectations in volume of applicants.
“As we are getting closer to the tournament, we will start to see the feedback from the advisory group come into fruition and we are very excited to see the impact that this will have.”
Ben Gomersall, a Featherstone Rovers supporter of 25 years, has relished having an input into how Rugby League World Cup 2021 will be delivered. He explained: “I am passionate about rugby league and wanted to make an impact beyond playing and being a fan. I’m excited to help support inclusive change.”
Leeds Rhinos fan Mitch Woodham added: “I have visited many stadiums across the country to watch rugby league. I want to help others with autism and learning disabilities to have a better experience watching a game at the Rugby League World Cup 2021.”