Details have been finalised and visas obtained for the GB Student Pioneers rugby league tour to Ghana, which arrives in the country on Monday, 30th June and will see the squad in the West African nation for two weeks.
The Pioneers were formed in 2005 and encompass students from England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales with the aim of aiding fledgling nations. They made their inaugural tour to Estonia and have since visited the Czech Republic, Latvia, Ukraine, Norway, Kazakhstan, Greece and Poland.
Squad members are ambassadors for their university and sport, selection criteria considering not only their ability to play the game to a high standard but a proven track record in undertaking rugby league development activity.
While in Ghana, the squad will play three matches against the Ghana All Stars and two facing the national side while also running coaching clinics in schools, running touch rugby tournaments – including one on the beach, meeting the local press and taking part in cultural activities and visits.
GRL Development Manager Sylvester Wellington commented: “This tour has been two years in the planning. We have heard and read about the Pioneers and how they are helping countries to develop rugby league and we feel this is a big opportunity for Ghana to showcase what we have been doing and how fast the sport has grown here.”
“The players and management of Ghana RL are looking forward to it because it will help in making so many more people aware about the sport.” He added: “We also know this will open the way for us in terms of sponsorships and making some of our players known outside Africa, there is some terrific talent here.”
The tourists, who have been helped in their preparations by the sport’s official charity, Rugby League Cares, will be managed by Steve Curtis, Sports Development Manager at the University of Hull.
He said: “The SRL GB Pioneers tour to Ghana is an exciting new challenge for us. The RLEF have done some great work out there and we want to help build on it and spread the word about rugby league.”
“We have a busy itinerary and all the players and staff are looking forward to leaving tools to help grow the sport there.”
SQUAD: Jonathan Ryan Morris, Leeds ; 2, Andrew Michael Joy, Liverpool ; 3, James Alex Rodger, Bradford ; 4, Nikola Marko Zalad, UCLAN; 5, Joseph Philip Kenny, Durham; 6, Ryan James Dowsett, St Marys ; 7, Jonathan Peter Burns, Sheffield Hallam ; 8, James David Park, Bath; 9, Samuel Swire, Hull; 10, Edward Geoffrey Denis Linford, Brunel; 11, Ryan Anthony Lee , Gloucester ; 12, David Gerard O'Connor, Warwick ; 13, Joshua Dolan , UCLAN ; 14, Philip James Heath, TASC ; 15, Adam Cunliffe, Nottingham ; 16, Sean Pattimore, Swansea ; 17, Callum Williamson, Swansea ; 18, Samuel Thomas Roe , York St Johns; 19, George David McNulty-Shaw, Aberystwyth ; 20, Benjamin Mohammed Chipperfield , Bangor
STAFF: Steve Curtis, Tour Manager; Keith Sandhu, Team Manager; Richard Tate, Head Coach; Ollie O’Mara, Assistant Coach; Andrew Mitchell, Physiotherapist; Richard Squires, Referee Development