Wanderers Stalwart, James (Jimmy) Green, realised a major ambition when an introduction to Rugby and training session was held on June 7 for children with special educational needs and disability (SEND) at Thanet Wanderers’ in St Peters Recreation Ground.
Jimmy had determined to set up a SEND hub after seeing the success of the Wanderers Schools hub that is open to years 7-9 pupils from Thanet mainstream schools, an initiative which he also heads up.
Jimmy works with autistic children and he also attended a special needs school. After a long and very successful career in rugby, Jimmy knows what an amazing sport it can be in helping to improve children’s confidence, fitness and the ability to work as part of a team: this frequently leads to an improvement in a child’s mental health.
He says there are still not enough groups catering for SEND children and the new initiative presented a great opportunity to give the children the chance to try rugby whilst having fun, meeting and interacting with other youngsters.
Wanderers committee gave the scheme its full backing and funding was obtained from Sport England thanks to Peter Ruranski, who manages grant applications for the club in addition to his duties as sponsorship manager.
Wanderers marketing director Andy Bull has given unstinting support throughout the process of developing the hub. His graphics and google form register provided detailed information about dietary requirements plus medical conditions and learning needs. These have been invaluable in the preparation for the disAbility Hub.
Darren Reeve, from the Wooden Spoon children’s charity of rugby, has wide experience in coaching special needs youngsters and had already agreed to be part of the coaching team. The funding from Sport England gave the club the opportunity to get even more quality coaches and fund prizes and equipment.
On Tuesday evening Jimmy and Darren were joined by Mel Tsangrides and Liv from Inclusive Sport, where Mel is one of the senior and experienced coaches.
Her persuasion and gentle persistence at session one eventually managed to encourage a final youngster to join the proceedings rather than play in the muddy pools on the touchline.
Danny Vaughan, who has worked for England rugby and is presently Head Coach at Deal and Betts RFC, also brought his innovative skills to the evening.
Many volunteers and coaches from the club were also there to ensure a high level of care and assistance.
U6s coach Mario Garcia was joined by Women’s director of rugby Vicky Flower and Brioni Reah from Wanderers Ladies section and Max Rogers, last season’s U16s captain. Kelly Smith and Gerry Doyle provided post session refreshments that were received politely and were much appreciated.
Jimmy said: “All efforts were rewarded by 100% assurances from those participating that they would be back next week when they will be joined by pupils from the Bradstow School. A comment from one parent that his son had never joined in any sporting activity before but had thoroughly enjoyed the activities at Wanderers summed up the reactions. Thank you for bringing your children to Thanet Wanderers, we enjoyed having them at our club.”
Sessions take place every Tuesday until July 19 from 5pm until 6pm training and 6pm to 6.30pm for refreshments.
The non-contact sessions are free of charge at Thanet Wanderers base, St Peter’s Rec, off Callis Court Road in Broadstairs.