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Rugby making a difference in young lives

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The students and coaches of Bermuda's Beyond Rugby programme are celebrating another hugely successful year.

The young male and female players from CedarBridge Academy, the Berkeley Institute and Dellwood Middle School have come on in leaps and bounds on the field — and in the classroom through the initiative's Homework Academy, run with Family Centre.

A number of the students are now playing with the Island's league teams — Mariners, Renegades, Teachers and Police — and proudly representing their country at Under-19 and Under-17 level.

The programme is also settling into its new home at Police Field. A series of fundraising initiatives and the hard work of volunteers helped to transform the weed-filled plot into a field of dreams with new stadium lights.

Another highlight for Beyond Rugby this year was being awarded a prestigious Fair Play Award from the North America Caribbean Rugby Association, which is presented to the organisation, team or individual that best demonstrates rugby's culture of sportsmanship and fair play through actions on or off the field. More than 7,000 programmes throughout North America and the Caribbean were eligible for the accolade, voted on by 18 countries.

Coach Patrick Calow said: “Beyond Rugby expanded this year to include the Berkeley Institute, thanks to the support of Axis, which has been brilliant.

“We've also been able to include other schools across the Island in our rugby ethos through the Digicel Middle School League (six middle schools) and the Ariel Re High School League (five high schools).

“These have a hugely positive impact on our programme as it adds a further sense of purpose when we practice. Our players are massively competitive, so with more games and an increased sense of competition between schools, it has made practice more productive — they are applying what they learn — and they want to stay out of trouble at school so they are eligible to play.”

Mr Calow praised the work of those who helped to transform Police Field for the students' use.

“To see the community come together to make the field a better playing surface for both rugby and the local football teams has been awesome.

“We're incredibly grateful to the Mid Ocean Golf Club, to Kip Froud for his immense support and, of course, to [Beyond Rugby Bermuda founder] John Layfield for the countless hours he has put in to field maintenance.”

Outside of rugby Mr Calow said the students benefited from a number of support systems.

“My co-workers from Family Centre do an incredible job at supporting the players, and their families, with homework support and therapeutic support where it is needed.

“However, a real aspect that sticks out to me is helping young people make different, more positive choices in their behaviour when perhaps things aren't going too well. This is done is such way that builds a connection with the young person and, through consistent, positive support, I've seen first-hand this progress, which I hope will continue to stay with young people on and off the rugby field.”

Beyond Rugby volunteer coach Scott Devine, an inspector with the Bermuda Police Service, said the programme was making a difference to young lives.

“The programme stresses the importance of academics and behaviour as much as it does athletic achievement,” he added. “No matter the results on the field, if we're producing respectful, responsible student athletes and keeping them from the temptations and issues they may face on the streets, then the programme is a massive success.

“I'd much rather give up my time now to interact and build relationships with these young people than have to deal with them from a professional standpoint further down the line.”

Mr Calow said the Ariel Re High School League and Digicel Middle School League would resume next month, and the public are urged to come down and support the students.

If you would like your son or daughter to start playing rugby, contact Mr Calow, also the Bermuda Rugby Football Union's youth development officer, at pcalow@brfu.bm.

If you would like to get involved with the Homework Academy and offer support as a tutor support, contact Mr Calow at pcalow@brfu.bm or Darren Woods at darren@tfc.prevention.bm

Beyond Rugby is hosting a joint fundraiser with the Bermuda School on Music tonight and tomorrow (December 17 and 18) — a special screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at Speciality Cinema, Hamilton.

Tickets for tonight's show at 11pm cost $35, while tickets for tomorrow's show, which includes cocktails and live music from 6pm, are $50, from www.ptix.bm

Culture of sportsmanship: students find fulfilment in rugby (Photograph courtesy of Beyond Rugby Bermuda)
The ball is mine: fierce competition on display (Photograph courtesy of Beyond Rugby Bermuda)
Field of battle: students tussle for the ball (Photograph courtesy of Beyond Rugby Bermuda)

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Published December 17, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 17, 2015 at 12:18 am)

Rugby making a difference in young lives

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