Last Wednesday evening over 120 young people aged between 5 and 16 from multiple backgrounds and religions and of all sizes, shapes and experience took part in an Open Training evening organised by the Bolton Junior Coaches and helped by several of their current first team players.
After the coaching sessions, which everyone thoroughly enjoyed, players, parents and coaches were invited into the club for refreshments and a discussion about hate crime awareness and how sport and Rugby Union in particular can help. The club welcomed a series of guest speakers - Daniel Ladd, from Community Services at Bolton Council and Sergeant Kevin Wright and PC Neil McMahon from Greater Manchester Police were our experts for the evening, Resma Patel represented Bolton's Inter Faith Youth Groups and Bolton Under 16s player Harry Kay donned his Junior MEP hat to be the voice of youth. Special guests for the evening were Sam Bedlow, and Dave Seymour, as well as Community Coach Andy Broadhurst from Sale Sharks.
Andy, Dave and Sam spoke about how they deal with hate related issues and enforced that such things have no place in rugby and are dealt with very seriously by the RFU. They also offered sage advice to the youngsters present to help them both on and off the pitch.
After such a serious discussion the evening ended on a lighter note with Sam explaining how he made it to professional rugby via Myerscough College while Dave outlined that his route to the top was completely different and via his local club. Both encouraged Bolton's players to keep playing and enjoy their rugby and not to give up should things not work out as they wished at first. They also emphasised the importance of hard work at school as players will need an alternative career once their playing days are over.
Bolton RUFC gave a final thanks to their guests from Sale Sharks, who provided excellent role models for young and developing players to aspire to emulate.