GRUFC – Minis and Juniors
By Chris Sadler
The recent appointment of me as chair and Rob Laing Taylor as vice chair was made in the later part of last season. We both have busy jobs and young families which has made it important to have both a chair and vice chair to ensure continuity when we are pressed for time. Morag Lumb also took over as treasurer and has done a great job in the money department. Talking of money John McKay is now undertaking the volunteer role of fund raising , his volume of work is very high and at times complex. What John is undertaking amounts to a full time job and his hard work is key to the development of our club. The main drive behind the minis and juniors has come from Paul Wren who despite no longer holding an executive post in the minis and juniors has effectively done 99% of the organising. His recognition in The Evening Gazette awards is very much deserved. The dedication of Ben Bourne to the section and the club overall is there for all to see and much appreciated. The role of Lesley Tart in the safeguarding aspects is vital to ensure the well being of all those young people involved with the club. The training session undertaken by Lesley was very well received and created some very good debate and learning. The main thing of course is rugby and this is delivered by all the coaches and assistants who turn up week in week out in all weathers. I continue to be impressed by the dedication and skill of our coaches who have produced some great rugby at all levels and some fantastic results and County level players in the junior ranks. Without the coaches there would be no rugby and I would like to thank the coaches on behalf of the club, parents and players.
The club is just that, a club it is run by members for its members. Many parents are involved with the club behind the scenes, including sponsorship, catering, kit cleaning and of course simply getting the kids there on time and with the proper equipment. Parents are not members in their own right and can only make use of the club and its facilities when attending events with a mini/junior player. Parents are the life blood of the club and I would like to encourage more to join the club in their own right. This can be done as a full voting member or as a social member. Just by having a drink in the club, booking the function room and joining as a member parents can contribute much to the club. I would also like more parents to get involved with jobs around the club. There is much to do from admin to coaching, from grass cutting to organising. Parental involvement is very much appreciated.
The hundreds of young players involved with our club is something which we can all celebrate. I see GRUFC as an important part of the community. With youngsters coming not only from Guisborough but from the surrounding towns and villages there is a building of bridges between schools and communities. At a time when there are concerns about children’s health and fitness it is good to see so many involved with vigorous physical activity. There is little doubt that participatory activity like that provided at GRUFC does much to divert youngsters away from the temptations of anti social behaviour and unhealthy lifestyle choices.
The successes of the section on the field have been numerous over the last season. These successes are well documented on the club website and are something of which we can all be proud.
The section was involved in a number of very successful tours and development events our close ties with Leeds Carnigie continue to pay dividends and give our young players a source of inspiration.
There is little doubt that in the coming years we will face challenges as we seek to move forward at a time of severe belt tightening across the public, private and voluntary sectors. The last two seasons saw very severe winters which reduced our playing and training opportunities but also put massive pressure on the pitches. This is very true of the upper pitch which has never really recovered. To some degree we can become victims of our own success with increasing numbers of mini and junior players we need to be flexible in obtaining playing space. We have been working hard to develop partnerships with other organisations and individuals to ensure we have affordable space for next season. It is clear that we will not be able to depend on the two club pitches and that financial pressures may impact on our use of Laurence Jackson School facilities. We had talks with Redcar and Cleveland Council towards the end of last season regarding the use of the field behind The Huntsman for training. The local authority and elected members have shown strong support for us. It is my intention that we use this field for training on a Sunday for at least one squad on a rotation basis. This is a great free resource that we can’t afford to ignore. We will be discussing this over the coming weeks.
We need playing and training space near the club and are currently building a partnership with the sea cadets, scouting movement and individuals to share facilities for the benefit of young people. This is progressing well and myself and Rob Laing Taylor recent met with all concerned parties and an agreement in principal was made. This will need further work but will hopefully mean that we can have use, on a Sunday of part of the field, adjacent to the Sea Cadets base situated on Belmangate. This would not be a full sized pitch but a good facility for smaller sided rugby. This pitch would need some work so volunteers will be needed over the summer months. We will also be making a fresh approach to our close neighbour Belmont Primary School regarding sharing resources.
The club structure is likely to change shortly but the minis and junior section will remain with a number of officials having voting rights on the club committee. I support these changes including the ultimate closure of the minis and juniors bank account and a merger of funds with the main club account. However in the short to mid term (next 12 months) I wish to maintain a separate account for the section for ease of accounting. This will of course be the domain of the section and club treasurers.
Rob Laing Taylor and I have supported the recently announced increase in membership fees and whilst this is unwelcome it increases our financial viability and potential income. The maximum increase for any family with mini/junior players is £10.00 per year. This is because we have negotiated a junior player discount scheme. We will consider extreme cases of hardship but will also be operating a no pay no play policy.
At the junior AGM we will be discussing the section structure and electing officials. I am suggesting the following posts as the executive of the section: Chair, Vice Chair, Treasurer, Secretary, Safeguarding, Coaches Rep, Players Rep, Parents/Social Rep. The section would also contain an identified coach or admin rep from each team.
It is important that the right people are elected or appointed to the positions within the section. I speak for both Rob Laing Taylor and myself when I say that we were appointed to fill a gap during the rugby year and as such have done our best and are happy to hand over the reins to new appointee(s) at the AGM, should that be the wish of the members. It is healthy to have a vibrant section with people wanting to become involved and I hope that many will come forward to lead and support one of the strongest minis and junior sections in the region.
It just remains to say a big thank you to all those have contributed in so many ways to the minis and juniors over the last 12 months. I can hardly wait for September, the new season and all those muddy smiling faces. After all that is what junior rugby is all about.
Chris Sadler. Chair GRUFC Minis and Juniors.