PRENTON RUFC: MORE THAN JUST A RUGBY CLUB

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A very special thing has been happening at a Wirral rugby club. Prenton RUFC have become a charity — revolutionising the role of a rugby club in today’s society — and their Prenton RUFC Community Hub offers kids clubs, fundraising and community events, a community garden and more.

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The club has become ‘more than just a rugby club’ and has filled a gap in society for the local community and beyond. The club’s aim is to use rugby as a tool to combat issues such as obesity, mental health problems and isolation, whilst acting as a hub in response to the closure of the local library, community centre, youth club, pub and playing fields.

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During the past 12 months, the club has hosted free activity camps for children — with fun educational games and teaching them about gardening and nutrition. The club pioneered a Eurovision gardening project for Ukraine, has provided space for groups and organisations and works with the Community Payback team.

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On Saturday 2nd September, Prenton hosted the inaugural Doddie Day for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation in memory of rugby legend Doddie Weir. The huge tartan takeover featured a wide range of activities such as The Highland Games For Kids, Tag Rugby For Kids, a Tug Of War competition, juggling lessons, an airsoft shooting range, raffles and more — raising over £15,000 for motor neurone disease.

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The Doddie Day was so successful that it received support from international rugby figures such as Leilani Latu and Andy Craig — proving that rugby is a powerful vehicle and a club can indeed be #morethanjustarugbyclub. The day featured a tartan suit in memory of Doddie Weir, which is now travelling around other clubs who are doing the same for the My Name’5 Doddie Foundation.

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Prenton’s Gordon Knapman said: “Prenton Rugby Club is an example of how a sports organisation can make a positive impact on the local community and beyond. For more than three decades, the club has been offering not only rugby training and matches but also a range of social and environmental initiatives that benefit the residents of the Prenton estate and beyond.”

He continued: “The club has created a community garden and nature footpaths and we teach young people nature skills. We provide clothing and well-being activities for people of all ages and work with the community payback team, as well as providing a space for other charities and organisations to host events. We are bound by the bonds of rugby and through the sport we can truly make a difference.”

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The club is now working with Wirral Borough Council, Sport England, the RFU and other organisations to build on this — to develop the site and create a state of the art hub that will be able to take things to the next level. The club is aiming to offer better facilities, an on site gym and more — to build a flagship hub that can act as a model for other clubs around the country.

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Prenton’s Brian Elkerton said: “We’re facing problems in society with an increase in mental health issues, isolation, poverty and suicide. We’re also seeing an increase in obesity and a decrease in sport participation — rugby participation is down a shocking 67% for example. With many community meeting places closing and a lack of things for people to do, these issues are getting worse.”

He continued: “At Prenton we aim to bridge that gap and have been doing lots of things to bring the community together — whether that’s through rugby or community events. We have some exciting plans in the pipeline and with the right funding we can offer so much more and hopefully make this rugby club a blueprint for clubs around the country.”

TO GET INVOLVED IN THE PROJECT OR FOR FREE VENUE HIRE MESSAGE PRENTON RUFC ON FACEBOOK

Prenton RUFC have become a charity — revolutionising the role of a rugby club in today’s society — and their Prenton RUFC Community Hub offers kids clubs, fundraising and community events, a community garden and more. The club is working towards a rebuild that will offer better facilities and a wider range of free services to the general public.

Prenton RUFC Community Hub / Prenton Dell Road, Prenton, CH43 3BS

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