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Rugby League clubs in Manchester can book in their sessions for RLWC2021’s Ahead of the Game training which is delivered in partnership with Rugby League Cares and world-renowned men’s mental health charity Movember.
To mark Mental Health Awareness Week, which runs from 10 – 16 May, Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021), in association with its partners, Movember and Rugby League Cares, is returning to community clubs across England to deliver the ‘Ahead of the Game’ programme.

Working with community Rugby League clubs across the country, the ‘Ahead of the Game’ programme will be presented to 8,000 young athletes, their families and coaches, with the aim of improving mental resilience in adolescent athletes and raising mental fitness literacy and awareness among players, families  and coaches. 

The evidence-based programme, which has been developed by sports psychology researchers in Australia, is also being rolled-out in other sports in Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

As part of RLWC2021’s ground-breaking Mental Fitness Charter, tournament organisers have committed to improving mental fitness awareness across the tournament workforce and all its participants.

RLWC2021 will see the men’s, women’s and wheelchair tournaments run concurrently for the first time in history, and during tournament time, approximately 60 members of staff, 2,021 volunteers and 900 participants from the 32 competing teams will receive mental fitness awareness  training. 

Movember will also play a crucial role in the tournament-time mental fitness campaign, with matchday activations – game day activity, community outreach and digital content planned to raise mental fitness literacy amongst supporters. 

As part of its £800,000 investment into the initiative, Movember alongside Rugby League Cares will also help to create a post-tournament legacy plan to ensure the impact of the Mental Fitness Charter is felt long after the final whistle at the final game. 

RLWC2021 Social Impact Director, Tracy Power commented on the training: “The Ahead of the Game initiative is one we are extremely proud to be associated with. The pandemic forced us to pause this activity, but in line with the government roadmap, we are delighted to be able to offer this fantastic service to local Rugby League clubs once again from May 17.

“Research shows that young people aged between 15-24 are more likely to experience mental illness and/or substance use disorders than any other age group. That is something  we cannot ignore and . Ahead of the Game is a way to take action – a programme for athletes, coaches and parents / guardians to learn the skills, resilience and communication needed to help young people  live happy, healthy, long lives. Our goal at RLWC2021 is to deliver positive social impact in the Rugby League communities and initiatives like this one will play a huge role in that.

Tracy Herd, Programme Manager for Young Men at Movember, says of the programme: “Ahead of the Game has come about after many months of planning from all sides, and we’re excited to finally see it put into practice with the easing of lockdown restrictions. Thankfully, the rugby league community has been able to come together to play team sports since March, and we know how important social connection through sport is for mental health. “Ahead of the Game provides the opportunity to improve the mental resilience of adolescent athletes even further. Mental Health Awareness Week is the perfect time for us to re-launch programme and we’re eager to see face-to-face training sessions begin again from next Monday.”
RL Cares Head of Community Emma Goldsmith said: “We know from the feedback we’ve received that Ahead of the Game is already making a positive difference to the lives of hundreds of young people who have engaged with the programme over the last few months.
“Now that coronavirus restrictions are being lifted, we are thrilled to have the opportunity to give more people across all Rugby League communities the opportunity to benefit from getting involved in Ahead of the Game.
“Working with RLWC2021 and Movember, we have assembled a brilliant team of presenters who are looking forward to informing and inspiring young people to tackle issues around mental fitness so they can lead happier, more healthy lives.”
Sign up here to be a part of the Ahead of the Game initiative.
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