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Engage! to represent Coventry and Warwickshire at regional awards ceremony

A project aiming to improve children’s lives through the values of rugby in Coventry and Warwickshire has won an award for its work.

The Engage! Coventry initiative has won the Community Project of the Year category in the Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Sports Awards, and will now go up against five other areas in the region for the same award at the West Midlands Community Sports Awards at Villa Park on Wednesday, 30 November.

The project has been recognised for the variety of values-based educational and sporting programmes and events it delivers through promoting the core values of rugby to young people. These values include teamwork, integrity, respect, enjoyment and discipline.

Engage! is hosted by the Coventry Sports Foundation and brings local clubs, schools and sports groups together to deliver character education and high-quality rugby coaching to young people.

Over 6,000 young people have taken part in programmes covering numeracy, healthy eating and character education over the past 18 months. More than 40 Coventry schools have also benefited from the Wasps community programmes Engage! has been commissioned to deliver as part of Premiership Rugby’s nationwide Play and Breakthru campaigns.

The most popular programme saw 1,200 eight to nine-year-olds take part in the Aviva Tackling Numbers session where pupils played touch rugby to improve their numeracy skills.

In celebration of last year’s Rugby World Cup (RWC2015), Engage! also organised and delivered the first ever International Tag Rugby Youth Festival in Coventry. This brought together 100 underprivileged schoolchildren from around the world to celebrate the RWC2015 with a values conference, tag rugby tournaments, coaching sessions with local rugby clubs and visits to the Web Ellis museum.

Ahead of this year’s Rio 2016 Olympics, Engage! also teamed up with the World Olympians Association, enabling Coventry to be one of just two UK cities to pilot the World Fit Walk to Rio programme. This was supported by Coventry Olympians and current elite athletes who visited over 3,000 Coventry schoolchildren to promote an active lifestyle through walking.

This culminated in the first ever city-wide rugby 7’s festival, involving over 20 primary and 10 secondary schools, celebrating the game making its debut at the Rio 2016 Olympics and International Olympic Day.

Engage! is the strategic co-ordinator for Coventry’s “City of Rugby” initiative, which aims to make the city a world leader at every level of the sport by 2023. Successfully launched in April 2016, the initiative works in partnership with the RFU, RFL and our three professional clubs, the Coventry Bears, Coventry Rugby and Wasps, as well as both Coventry and Warwick universities.

Tom Clift, Programme Manager at Engage! Coventry, said:

Promoting the core values of the game is fundamental to developing and improving the lives of the next generation of people across all ages. Through all our values based programme and grassroots activities that are aimed to grow the sport of rugby across the City, we are delighted that the work we are doing in Coventry and Warwickshire has been recognised.

It’s been a real team effort working with national partners at the RFU, RFL and our local community partners at Wasps, Coventry Bears, Coventry Rugby and both Coventry and Warwick Universities.

We’ve laid down solid foundations for our City of Rugby project, and hope to grow our values based educational programmes to reach 10,000 children and young people over the coming year, as well as developing a range of rugby league and union activities for men and women across the City.

The West Midlands Sports Awards are organised by six county sports partnerships, including Coventry, Solihull and Warwickshire Sport (CSW Sport).

Tracy Murphy, Business Partnership Manager at CSW Sport, said:

These awards serve to highlight the valuable role that sport plays in our communities. Engage! Coventry’s award was well-deserved, and we wish them the best of luck in the regional awards.