Rugby League set for World Cup legacy boost

We Are MEDWAY SPORTS Love Sport

RUGBY LEAGUE IN ENGLAND IS SET FOR A MAJOR FINANCIAL BOOST AS PART OF THE RUGBY LEAGUE WORLD CUP ‘INSPIRED BY 2021’ LEGACY PROGRAMME.

England hosts the competition in 2021 and Sport England are investing £10 million of government money to help the sport grow and become more visible, engaging and welcoming to current and potential participants.

The funding will be split into large transformational community projects, for example refurbishing changing rooms and installing new artificial pitches, and smaller-scale projects such as supplying new kit or equipment to clubs.

All investment will focus on four key areas: creating welcoming environments, encouraging more players, building community engagement and cultivating further investment resulting in an innovation fund for the community game.

Massive benefit

Charles Johnston, their property director, said the funding represented the biggest investment into rugby league facilities the country has ever seen.

“With this funding, communities will gain better access to the facilities, improved infrastructure and essential equipment they need to be active,” he added.

“We are pleased the investment will provide benefit to people engaging in the men’s, women’s and wheelchair game, with a focus on those disadvantaged areas where inactivity levels are stubbornly high.

“By focusing our efforts on increasing participation in the game, we’re ensuring that the Rugby League World Cup’s legacy lasts long after the last ball has been kicked and the crowds have gone home.”

Interested parties can pre-register their funding application here.

Good Sportsmanship

We Are MEDWAY SPORTS Love Sport

A FEW WEEKS BACK, MY SON’S SOCCER TEAM WAS PLAYING A RUN-OFF GAME FOR THE FINAL PLAYOFF IN THE DIVISION

They had a big lead and, as the time wound down, the other team was starting to get frustrated and rather “chippy.” One kid in particular had locked into some one-on-one challenges with my son, who is mild-mannered and often plays the role of peacemaker.

Ultimately, my son’s team won and, as the teams lined up to do the sportsmanship handshake, this kid refused to shake hands with my son and others.  Instead, he walked away with a one-fingered gesture in their direction.

Not a great sport.

Based on my experiences, I am going to guess that he is the child of parents who also do not demonstrate good sportsmanship. What I have observed time and again in youth sports is that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Sadly, many parents today put winning above character.

Competition is a vital part of achievement and outperforming. In fact, the word “compete” comes from the Latin word competere which means “strive together.”  Yet, this concept tends to be misunderstood and underappreciated.

The reality is that we regularly compete in most aspects of our life. We compete for jobs we want, college admission spots, and for new clients and employees.

Unlike the boy my son played, Ty Koehn understands the essence of competition and character. Koehn is a high school pitcher in Minnesota. Last week during the sectional championship game, he struck out his best friend and competitor, Jack Kocon. This final strike advanced Koehn’s team to the state tournament.

As his team rushed to the pitcher’s mound to celebrate, Koehn immediately headed to home plate and gave Kocon a big hug before joining his teammates in celebration, as you’ll see in this inspiring video.

When asked about his reaction, Koehn said that he wanted his friend to know their friendship was more important than the outcome of the game.

The scene reminded me of a video I saw a few years back of a softball player named Sarah Tucholsky. Sarah had hit a three-run home run, the first in her college career, but she had missed making contact with first base on her first go-round. As she ran back to tag first base, she tore her ACL.

As per official rules, none of Tucholsky’s teammates could assist her in running the bases, which she couldn’t do because of her injured knee. The umpires also pointed out that Tucholsky’s hit would only count as a two-run single if she were replaced by a pinch runner.

What happened next was one of the most incredible acts of sportsmanship I’ve ever seen. It’s actually hard to watch this video without getting emotional.

Competing is about elevating our own game. It’s about practicing, getting better and having the will to win as a team. Instead of winning at all costs or wishing failure on others, real winners always prioritize character over winning itself. True sportsmanship requires that we know how to win well and be gracious in defeat.