The charity Rugby League Cares, the RFL and the Rugby League World Cup 2021 have come together to help support junior players at community clubs who are struggling mentally with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The postponement of fixtures and training, and restrictions on travel and movement have affected 1000s of amateur players across the country, disrupting routines and preventing them from seeing friends and teammates.
RL Cares, the RFL and RLWC2021 will now, however, be setting up a series of online workshops to players aged 12-18, and their coaches and supporting adults, focused on mental wellbeing.
The sessions will be delivered by former professional rugby league players, and will include techniques and knowledge to help young players manage and improve their own mental fitness.
Head of grants at RL Cares Emma Goldsmith said: “The lockdown has not been an easy time for any of us but it has been particularly tough on some of the most vulnerable people within Rugby League communities.
“The sport has a wonderful, proven ability to change behaviours for the better and lift the mood of participants of all ages: for the last 100-plus days our young people have had all that taken away.
“After speaking to coaches and club officials, it’s clear that many teenagers are suffering low mood and feeling frustrated by what’s been happening in their world.
“Our workshops will get across the message that it’s OK not to feel OK and that there are ways to feel better.
“Playing Rugby League boosts both physical and mental health: the workshops will give young people tips and advice on managing their mental welfare so that when the restrictions are lifted and they can start playing again, they will be in the best emotional shape.”
The link between RL Cares and RLWC2021 builds on the upcoming ‘Ahead of the Game’ initiative run, which will see them work with community clubs, alongside men’s mental health charity Movember, to improve mental resilience and mental health awareness in adolescent athletes, parents, and coaches.
Tracy Power, Legacy Director of RLWC2021, added: “In January we launched our Mental Fitness Charter with the aim of making a difference to those playing and coaching Rugby League across England.
“Since making that commitment we have faced an unparalleled global crisis that has significantly impacted the mental health of our young players
“By working with RL Cares to support the virtual workshop programme we hope to make a positive difference, that will provide young players with the help and advice they need to during this difficult period and beyond.”
The RL Cares mental fitness and resilience workshops for young people aged between 12 and 18 will begin on July 13 and are open to all community Rugby League clubs.