Rugby League side Salford Red Devils have begun weekly training sessions for their new Physical Disability Rugby League team.
The team has been set up in conjunction with the charity Mind2Muscle and training sessions are scheduled for Tuesday evenings at Eccles Sixth Form College.
Their first PDRL training session took place on Tuesday the 3rd of May. Salford Red Devils also organise a Learning Disability Super League team for players with learning difficulties. Head of equality and diversity for the Salford Red Devils Foundation, Craig Fisher said:
“This is our first regular team training session tonight for the PDRL side of things. The LDSL’s been going since August. We’ve done a few festivals with them, and they’ve been training regularly since August.
“We’ve been getting steady numbers. It started off as a bit of a slow burner with the LDSL, with three or four turning up regularly. We had a few referrals come through community integrated care for our LD sessions, and they built up quite gradually.
“We usually get on average, about 12-16 training for the LD. PD, cos it’s such a niche sport, it’s been difficult to try and recruit players, but we’ve got players coming steadily, slowly but surely.”
Craig is also the head coach of the Wales PDRL World Cup team, and there are a few Welsh internationals who now also play for the Salford PDRL team.
“A crop of our players come to our sessions, and play for the team, but come up from South Wales and their classed as internationals.”
The training sessions are preparation for competitive matches against opposition from across the country. These matches take place in a festival format.
“Each team plays roughly two or three games per festival, and they accrue points for points scored, points against, wins and losses, and that equates to, who’s going to play who on finals day, which will be the last festival of the year.
“We haven’t been given a venue for that yet, but it’s usually first versus second, third plays fourth, and so on and so forth. They determine the league winners off the back of that.”
The charity Mind2Muscle are the PDRL team’s primary partner, and they refer clients to take part in the sessions.
“Mind2Muscle is headed up by Charlotte Kershaw. Charlotte’s referred a few of her clients to us to take part in either PDRL or LDSL, or even our walking rugby variant which we do here as well, on a Tuesday evening.
“They are people, usually, with neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s Disease. They’re not really steady on their feet, so we try and keep them steady on their feet, work on their hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills and develop in that way, and it’s a good course of therapy for them.”
Sessions are every Tuesday evening between 7pm and 8pm, and take place at Eccles Sixth Form College. To get involved, you can contact the Salford Red Devils Foundation at 0161 631 5252. Alternatively, you can contact Craig directly at email@example.com.