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Newcastle Thunder Community Department set for expansion


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22 hours ago, Tex said:

One of the things that is overlooked constantly is the role that the community clubs and specifically the volunteers have played in the emergence of the game in the North East. 

Newcastle Thunder do not wave a magic wand and RL appears, equally they do not pour £££s into the game. 

The North East, up until March 2013 had 4 RFL staff who were all made redundant due to reductions in Sport England funding, the North East then had the support of an allocated member of staff from the RFL but the day to day running of the North East RL then fell to a group of dedicated volunteers with Jim Shuttleworth (at the time, now Dave Raybould) supporting centrally. 

The reason the game is so strong in the area is primarily to the hard work of volunteers on the ground keeping their clubs going, not just waiting for things to be handed to them. It is now a huge benefit to have a Pro club that can provide resources to help sustain the growth but the foundations have been built long before Thunder moved to Newcastle. 

When the RFL withdrew the Regional Academy (of which the Midlands and Cumbria both had one) Newcastle took on the responsibility of this as they identified the need for this to be able to provide players with the opportunity to play the game at the highest level. One such player, Sam Luckley was previously involved in the North East Thunder Regional Academy under Andy Kelly, and is set to make his debut in SL this season for Salford Red Devils at the age of 25. This would not have been possible if not for the foundations of the game being set and the opportunities to play the game at University level with Northumbria. Sam completed a Bsc and a Masters degree and only now is getting a SL opportunity. 

Newcastle Thunder have supplemented and supported the growth of the game in the North East but its not all free coaching through Sky Try that has brought the rewards. There are a number of coaches on the ground providing coaching in schools and spreading the word, with clubs/schools paying for this and seeing a return on their investment.

It may be a controversial opinion but for me the reason it hasn't happened in the other regions is simply that people have not done the work its taken. As a region, we in the North East had a choice, to make it happen or let the game dwindle away, we chose the first, and Thunder then added some resource to it. The game has firm foundations and is healthier than ever, and if Semore Kurdi decided to walk away and take his money out of the game, the sport would still survive, and in my opinion continue to grow.

An absolutely fantastic, and very informative, post 👏

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23 hours ago, Tex said:

It may be a controversial opinion but for me the reason it hasn't happened in the other regions is simply that people have not done the work its taken. As a region, we in the North East had a choice, to make it happen or let the game dwindle away, we chose the first, and Thunder then added some resource to it. The game has firm foundations and is healthier than ever, and if Semore Kurdi decided to walk away and take his money out of the game, the sport would still survive, and in my opinion continue to grow.

The worrying thing is that those "other regions" include supposed heartland areas along the M62 and its immediate environs.

That's fine if people are willing to accept being outgrown by newer/expansion clubs. The sad reality is this is rarely the case

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23 hours ago, Tommygilf said:

The worrying thing is that those "other regions" include supposed heartland areas along the M62 and its immediate environs.

That's fine if people are willing to accept being outgrown by newer/expansion clubs. The sad reality is this is rarely the case

Newcastle are completely unique in geographical location. They are the only professional club North of York so you can not just drag and drop the "Newcastle Model" into another locality and expect the same outcome. 

Newcastle support the work that the North East clubs and volunteers are doing. In essence there is not a "model" as such, its more an understanding of how the Pro clubs and Community Clubs/Schools can work together to grow the game and a unified approach.

 

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23 minutes ago, Tex said:

Newcastle are completely unique in geographical location. They are the only professional club North of York so you can not just drag and drop the "Newcastle Model" into another locality and expect the same outcome. 

Newcastle support the work that the North East clubs and volunteers are doing. In essence there is not a "model" as such, its more an understanding of how the Pro clubs and Community Clubs/Schools can work together to grow the game and a unified approach.

 

Much of the country is in the same boat though. I think heartland clubs can certainly learn how to better support grassroots development, work in schools and harness a groundswell of volunteers.

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9 minutes ago, Damien said:

Much of the country is in the same boat though. I think heartland clubs can certainly learn how to better support grassroots development, work in schools and harness a groundswell of volunteers.

I would agree with that Damien. 

In my opinion there is a perception which is that Pro clubs always take from the Amateur clubs and return nothing. 

I may be shot down for this but simply the difference in terminology of Amateur Club and Community Club is indicative of attitudes in the sport. Whilst to some it may be a minor detail I do feel that is has a bearing on attitudes towards the game.

A player progressing from a Community Club to play at the Pro level is a cause for celebration as the main ethos of Grassroots sport should be to provide an opportunity for people to play the sport we all love, at the level which suits them best, both in terms of ability and ambition. 

Without the Community Game, the Professional Game ceases to grow, but equally we require the Pro Game to expose the future generations to the sport and inspire the next greats.

In the North East there is a good balance of the Community Game working ALONGSIDE the Pro Club, this is what allows for success. 

 

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3 hours ago, Tex said:

Newcastle are completely unique in geographical location. They are the only professional club North of York so you can not just drag and drop the "Newcastle Model" into another locality and expect the same outcome. 

Newcastle support the work that the North East clubs and volunteers are doing. In essence there is not a "model" as such, its more an understanding of how the Pro clubs and Community Clubs/Schools can work together to grow the game and a unified approach.

 

I can understand your reluctance to concretise what's happened up there, I'm sure it's difficult to define and clarify, even in your own minds, what made it work.

It's not uncommon for high achievers not to know, how they do what they do.

I'm just asking that someone up there tries, for the benefit of everyone else (anyone else) who puts themselves into the development business.

Even an historical account (narrative) from the early years when Mick Hogan began to the present day would contain some priceless nuggets of information which would (I'm certain) inspire, enthuse and empower others to ''have a go'' confident in the knowledge that its been done before, by people just like themselves, who started with nothing more than a belief, in the potential popularity of our great game and the willingness to get stuck in and do it.

If your story can reduce by 50% the number of mistakes they make, then that is an enormous benefit.

Please reconsider and/or ask someone at the club (Mick Hogan, perhaps) to write the story. 

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3 hours ago, Tex said:

Newcastle are completely unique in geographical location. They are the only professional club North of York so you can not just drag and drop the "Newcastle Model" into another locality and expect the same outcome. 

Newcastle support the work that the North East clubs and volunteers are doing. In essence there is not a "model" as such, its more an understanding of how the Pro clubs and Community Clubs/Schools can work together to grow the game and a unified approach.

 

I don't think its as binary as that tbh. Newcastle are a perfectly applicable model for a significant number of Pro/Semi Pro RL clubs - York, the Hull clubs, Sheffield, Salford, Coventry, London, St Helens off the top of my head have significant areas that are effectively their own demense. You could quite reasonably add the likes of Leeds and Huddersfield to that list too. For others in shall we say more congested areas, it either then means bringing together resources of multiple clubs or downscaling the ambitions of that model to a more relevant size for individual clubs.

I think what can be seen in Newcastle is the benefit of having the professional club being the locus of the community game and spearheading the development of the sport in the area. Some look quite negatively on that as "top down" expansion but evidently it has a method that is working. Having a culture of the sport shouldn't in theory be a hinderance but actually a leg up for other clubs, as the groundwork has already been done.

Perhaps the problems in the heartlands aren't entirely down to the professional clubs too. I doubt anyone would be surprised to recall stories of big fishes in small ponds with Heartland RL amateur organisations or scenes that are reminiscient of Handforth Parish Council. Reluctance and resistance to defer (or give up control) to a professional club might be what is holding back Newcastle-esque development in some areas of the heartlands. That said, some "professional clubs" are basket cases themselves and I don't blame amateur administrators from staying away.

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