Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) today underlined its commitment to its communities by establishing unique partnerships with Rugby League Cares and Mental Health UK (MHUK).
RLWC2021 will work closely RL Cares, MHUK as well as existing partner Movember to deliver impactful campaigns to improve mental fitness and help encourage conversations around mental health.
September 10 is recognised globally as ‘World Suicide Prevention Day’, and the theme for this year’s campaign is ‘Working Together to Prevent Suicide’ and education on mental fitness will be the focus of RLWC2021 efforts as the tournament seeks to work together along with its mental health partners to offer assistance and guidance to those in need in these uncertain times.
As an Official partner of RLWC2021’s InspirationALL legacy programme RL Cares will deliver the ‘Movember Ahead of the Game’ initiative, a programme developed by the men’s health charity which is focused on improving youth mental fitness through community sport.
RL Cares have worked with men’s health experts Movember to adapt and deliver their ‘Ahead of the Game’ programme for Rugby League communities and will use the vast expertise of both organisations in the field of mental fitness to successfully deliver RLWC2021’s Mental Fitness Charter.
Working with community Rugby League clubs across the country, ‘Ahead of the Game’ will reach 8,000 young athletes, 8,000 parents and 360 coaches, with the aim of improving mental resilience in adolescent athletes and raising mental fitness literacy and awareness among players, families and coaches. Planning is already well underway for the first mental fitness sessions being hosted in Leeds and Trafford at the start of October.
Tracy Power, RLWC2021 Legacy Director said: “Again RLWC2021 will be breaking new ground with these initiatives. The Office of National Statistics (ONS), has revealed that the Rugby League strongholds in the North of England suffer disproportionately in the area of mental illness compared to the rest of the country.”
“These figures demonstrate the need for action and the RLWC2021 Mental Fitness Charter aims to make a positive impact on Rugby League communities through the ‘Power of Together’. We are extremely grateful to Rugby League Cares, Movember and Mental Health UK for their outstanding contribution in making sure that the challenges around mental health and the necessary support are highlighted by this world-class event.”
Emma Goldsmith, Head of Community at RL Cares, said: “We are looking forward to working together with RLWC2021, Movember and Mental Health UK on campaigns that will equip the Rugby League family with the knowledge, skills and techniques needed to tackle issues around mental health.
“Our partnership builds on the important work RL Cares has been undertaking with the wider Rugby League community over the last few years and will allow us to continue to support some of the sport’s most vulnerable people going into next year’s tournament and beyond.”
In the lead up to the tournament, Mental Health UK will also work with RLWC2021 and Rugby League Cares on a resilience programme which is aimed at 14-18-year olds in elite sports performance pathways. The programme will be delivered to Rugby League men’s professional clubs’ scholarships (14-16-year olds) and academies (16-18-year olds). Information on the resilience programme can be found here.
MHUK began engaging with the player welfare managers of all the professional clubs with academies and scholarships last month and in response to interest will begin with follow up workshops at Huddersfield (September 14) and Castleford (October 5).
Katie Legg, Director, Strategy and Partnerships at Mental Health UK: “Mental Health UK is delighted to partner with the Rugby League World Cup to deliver our ‘Your Resilience’ programme to the next generation of talent coming through the game.”
“Working with the clubs’ coaches and wellbeing managers, this initiative will provide young players with the tools and techniques to build their resilience both on and off the field, and to encourage conversations around mental health. Our partnership reinforces how mental and physical wellbeing go hand in hand, and building resilience is crucial for high-performing teams and the communities that support them.”
“Working together, we will make sure mental health is part of the conversation at the Rugby League World Cup 2021 and set a positive example to the players and fans of the future.”
Tracy Power added: “The partnership with Mental Health UK again underlines our commitment to reach as many different people who need support, especially in these trying and difficult times.”
“We applaud Huddersfield and Castleford for being so proactive in this area and I am sure a lot of other clubs will follow their lead in the weeks and months ahead. We’re currently working with Mental Health UK and Rugby Football League on how we can incorporate into the Women’s DISE programme to ensure female players also benefit from this support.”
“We are excited to bring these initiatives to life and continue our promise to have a widespread and positive impact on Rugby League communities across the country.”