In partnership with the RFL and Sport England, RLWC2021 are proud to extend their commitment to leaving a long-lasting legacy by launching a new initiative that will see a minimum of 250 new volunteers deployed into community Rugby League.
The project will provide volunteering opportunities at community clubs and foundations, and RFL events such as school festivals and big occasions within the community game.
Running until March 2022, the programme will identify people who would like to offer their time to support community Rugby League, from over 8,000 people who have expressed an interest in joining RLWC2021’s tournament time volunteering team, The Power Squad. Those that sign up will be provided with personalised training and support and guided into roles that meet their needs and skill sets.
The new volunteers will come at a crucial time for grassroots Rugby League as it looks to recover from the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, with 70% of grassroots organisations recently reporting that they are in need of more volunteers.
Specifically, the project will focus on supporting communities in the North of England and those from lower socio-economic areas, some of the communities hit hardest over the last 12 months.
The project aims to help address the main barriers to volunteering, increase diversity, and to rectify the under-representation of priority groups within community sport in these areas – which make up a large part of the Rugby League community.
— Rugby League World Cup 2021 (@RLWC2021) February 22, 2021
The initiative has been generously supported by Sport England, with £84,252 worth of funding granted from their Major Event Volunteer Fund, and will trial a new approach to retaining and transitioning volunteers from major events into community sport.
Typically major event volunteers are encouraged to get involved in community volunteering after an event has taken place, but this trailblazing approach will see RLWC2021 working with this group to support them in making the transition before the tournament kicks off in October 2021.
The new approach comes after research on behalf of Sport England found that whilst 35% of major event volunteers are interested in volunteering in community sport, just 9% actually make the move across.
As a volunteer led sport, the initiative aligns with the RFL Community strategy which highlights the need to increase the number of volunteers to support the sustainability of community clubs and the importance of providing high quality welcoming environments to recruit and retain participants and volunteers.
Tracy Power, RLWC2021 Social Impact Director, said:
“Our Community Volunteer Project is yet another way that RLWC2021 will leave a long-lasting legacy after the conclusion of the tournament in November 2021.
“This trailblazing initiative will make a huge impact on community and grassroots clubs as they look to rebuild after a challenging 12 months, and will provide volunteers with opportunities to continue to make a real difference to Rugby League communities and the sport of Rugby League into the future.
For the volunteers, the personal benefits that can be gained from volunteering are astounding and we would encourage as many people as possible to consider how they can be a part of it.”
Jenny Betteridge, Volunteering Strategic Lead at Sport England, said:
“Sport England is delighted to be partnering with the RFL World Cup team to support this initiative.
“It’s a fantastic opportunity to harness the enthusiasm of major event volunteers, to help them continue their volunteering in community sport. There are so many positive opportunities within community sport for people to share their skills and experience, whilst also gaining new ones.
“The Rugby League World Cup could set the bar for community volunteering legacy for all future major sporting events.”