Community involvement a win-win

The Canterbury Rugby Football Union (CRFU) Academy has been helping to deliver a unique challenge to over 22,000 primary and intermediate school students across the Canterbury region.  Sport Canterbury’s Top Team Challenge is a series of colourful and slightly crazy team-based activities that promote teamwork, initiative, problem-solving and communication skills.

This summer, the Challenge has a new element – connecting the region’s young people with aspiring Canterbury athletes. Eight CRFU Academy rugby players, young men vying for a position in the professional game, are getting involved to help deliver the programme in schools.

This involvement, according to Sport Canterbury Chief Executive Julyan Falloon, shows the natural relationship between participation and performance.

“The CRFU Academy athletes have developed a superior skill set through years of training and competing. But it all started with simple participation – having a go at school and club level.”

The Academy players have a rigorous schedule that combines 15  hours of training each week with a mix of family commitments, study and work.

Getting involved in community sport programmes such as Sport Canterbury’s Top Team Challenge can be a challenge in itself.

“It’s a great opportunity for the players to give something back to the community and learn from the experience, to complement the skills and confidence they have on the playing field,” says CRFU Rugby Academy Manager Aaron Webb.

“We encourage this involvement because there is value for the athletes in terms of building character and personal development – and it’s a bonus for the students. It helps them understand why growing more confident with sporting activities is so important, and gives them access to positive role models, who weren’t so long ago in school themselves.”

Over 100 Christchurch and Canterbury schools introduced Sport Canterbury’s Top Team Challenge in 2013 engaging 13,992 young people. .

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