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Community Development

Interview with Gerry Roberts Community Development Manager

Kath McCarthy | 23/01/2006

Last Friday The Dragons were out and about in the Region spreading The Dragons message and working with the WRU Development Officers to develop the game and introduce youngsters to rugby. In charge of the development of the community game and introducing it to youngsters throughout Gwent is Gerry Roberts.

Gerry is relatively new to the position having only held the job for three months. Before that Gerry was development officer for the Caerphilly borough. We caught up with him to see how he has settled into his new role, his vision for the community game and he explains how The Dragons get involved in their community.

Firstly, congratulations on your appointment, what does your role as the community development manager to the Region involve?

The main role of the job is to increase participation in the game and improve standards. In helping to achieve these goals I have four development officers under my direction who are part funded by local authorities. The areas of our work are, Coach Education UKCC L1-L3, Referee Recruitment and Retention, Player Participation and Development, District Youth and Junior Associations, Volunteer Recruitment and Retention, Club Development and Funding.

You have been in your role now for three months what were some of your first duties and how have you settled into the role?

I have visited many clubs over the past months watching games and talking to the various people involved with them. This has given me a good insight into what is happening at these clubs within our region. I have also visited the Unitary Authorities’ sports development departments to strengthen the partnership we have with them in supporting our development officers. I now have a good understanding of the needs of our clubs within the region and the information I have gathered over the months will be very useful for us to move forward together for the benefit of the community game.

Why is the community game so important to the Dragons?

Without the community game we do not have a game; all the players who play for The Dragons have played junior rugby at sometime for either club or school. Elite rugby is a bi-product of the community game, the more players we have playing the game (along with better coaches) can only improve the overall quality of the player which in turn will provide with a higher product at the top end of the game i.e. Dragons players.

What do The Dragons do to grow the community game and how do they get involved in the community?

Over the next few months the Dragons players will be holding coaching sessions at various schools within the region along with the development officers. This will provide an opportunity for children to meet the players they see on the television. Hopefully this will give the children the incentive to play the game at their school or local club. I know some of The Dragons have taken their level one coaching award and are currently involved in coaching teams within our region.

You have held various meetings with key people at The Dragons, how have these gone?

Very well, the response I have had from Jim, Paul, Leigh and Gethin have been very supportive, we are now running schools coaching sessions at three different comprehensive schools a month with over one hundred and fifty children attending at each school. Leigh and Paul have agreed to conduct two coaching association evenings at one of the clubs in the region along with a master class session for the junior district squads at the end of the season. The other initiatives we will be running are the “volunteer of the month award”; every club needs volunteers in order to survive. Volunteers play a vital role in the overall running and support of these clubs and ultimately could not continue without them. Tickets have also been provided by Gethin Jenkins to be used for the “man of the match” for district games.

What are your hopes for the Region?

· To provide opportunities for every boy and girl within the region to play rugby.
· Have a well-structured coach education programme for our existing coaches and future coaches.
· To develop the community clubs and provide them with necessary support which will help them to continue the good work they do.
· For The Dragons team to be successful in Europe and win some “silver ware”.
· To have a purpose built stadium and training facilities for the region as a whole.

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