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Leeds Rhinos

2017 Super League Champions

Minister credits Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s work as world leading

11th April 2018 | 7:40 pm

By Phil Daly

Jamie Jones-Buchanan, Gary Hetherington, Tracey Crouch MP, Lois Forsell and Bob Bowman

Earlier this week, Leeds Rhinos Foundation welcomed Tracey Crouch MP, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, to Emerald Headingley Stadium to find out first-hand about the award-winning work being done by the Leeds Rhinos Foundation in the community in the city.

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Earlier this week, Leeds Rhinos Foundation welcomed Tracey Crouch MP, the Minister for Sport and Civil Society, to Emerald Headingley Stadium to find out first-hand about the award-winning work being done by the Leeds Rhinos Foundation in the community in the city.

As well as hearing from all facets of the Foundation, Crouch also met Leeds Rhinos Women’s captain Lois Forsell before the Rhinos kick off the new Women’s Super League this Sunday at reigning Champions Bradford Bulls at Odsal. Forsell played for England at the World Cup last Autumn and combines playing for the Rhinos new Women’s team with coaching girls in schools across the city.

Although originally from Kent, Crouch is a Leeds Rhinos fan and had the privilege of presenting the famous Challenge Cup trophy to then Rhinos skipper Kevin Sinfield MBE at Wembley back in 2015, the same year she was asked by the Prime Minister to serve as Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport.

The Minister also got to see the new £40 million redevelopment of Emerald Headingley Stadium from the Lewis Jones Suite at the top of the Carnegie Stand. From here, the Minister went to meet members of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation in the Premier Suite including Leeds Rhinos Chief Executive Gary Hetherington, Lois Forsell and Rhinos players Jamie Jones-Buchanan and Stevie Ward.

Ward specifically spoke about his Mantality project that focuses on mental health which is an issue of interest to Crouch in her new role as the country’s first ever Minister for Loneliness.

The visit was part of a regional tour by the Minister where she visited projects in Leeds, including one run by Leeds Beckett with their project focusing on the wellbeing of older people through sporting reminiscence, as well as visiting the former constituency of Jo Cox, who set up a commission on loneliness before her tragic death, which Crouch will now take forward in parliament.

Speaking on her visit Tracey Crouch MP said, “What Leeds Rhinos Foundation are doing across all partnerships is phenomenally important but what it actually demonstrates is that rugby league is one of the sports that really has its heart in the community and we know that other sports have progressed into much more global industries and entities in themselves but rugby league actually retains that level of community support at its base and you can see that from the work the Leeds Rhinos players are doing in the community along with the staff from Leeds Rhinos Foundation.

“I think the strength from sports clubs comes from that real understanding of its base and community of its appreciation and recognition and that by virtue of its support it needs to put something back and shouldn’t take its support for granted and you are using your status to bring real hope and support to people who need it the most so it’s not just about taking money from people who come through the gate to watch the guys and girls it’s about making sure you continue that relationship going forward and I think that’s what everyone in this room should be incredibly proud of.

“Go out there and spread the word about the work you are doing because it is absolutely fantastic, and I genuinely think that it is world leading so well done and keep up the great work

Leeds Rhinos star Jamie Jones-Buchanan welcomed the chance to spread the word about the work of the Leeds Rhinos Foundation and how the organisation uses the power of sport to change lives.

He added, ““We talked to her about the magnificent work that Leeds Rhinos Foundation and Leeds Rhinos as a club do in the community.  My role today was communicating what the players do with Leeds Rhinos Foundation, it’s not just about the 80 minutes they spend on the pitch at the end of the week, it’s what they doing during the week.  People like Ashton Golding, inspiring young kids to lead healthier lifestyles, Brett Delaney going into prisons with the Onside project trying to educate people who are trying to reintegrate into society and right through to Richie Myler who is supporting people who are struggling in their lives with cancer.

“I thought what Tracey said was fantastic, some of the stats she threw up around social isolation and mental health were amazing.  She’s a great ambassador for sport and as a trustee of Leeds Rhinos Foundation I was proud to hear her praise the work they do.  Their moto is to change lives through sport and they do that on so many levels.  We have a great facility here at Emerald Headingley Stadium, we are rebuilding it and hopefully it will keep being a pillar and a hub for the wider community to better themselves and to be the best city in the country.”

Forsell welcomed the Ministers support for the new Women’s Super League and revealed she will be keeping in touch with how the season progresses for the Rhinos in their debut campaign. She added,

“It has been really good to welcome Tracey to Emerald Headingley and it gave all the Leeds Rhinos Foundation staff the chance to speak about their projects and the work our charity does.  I think today highlighted the synergy between Leeds Rhinos Foundation and the club and how well we all work together.  For the staff members to hear her refer to Leeds Rhinos Foundation’s work as world leading is wonderful and it is encouraging for her to recognise what we do and say we are championing the community.

“It was nice to hear her talk about how great it is to get women and girls involved in sports that have usually been seen as a barrier and it’s nice now for Tracey, in the line of work that she does and our work at Leeds Rhinos Foundation that we no longer see getting girls involved in Rugby League as having barriers. Through the work that the brand and the club does we are getting to the point that girls are absolutely loving rugby league and can’t wait to get involved.

To find out more information about Leeds Rhinos Foundation visit www.leedsrhinosfoundation.org