24th September 2018, 16:14 | college_
New College Pontefract and Wakefield Trinity are to become the first Women and Girls Development Academies to be based out of local colleges.
Academies will offer a dual career pathway to girls aged 16 to 19, attending college, to develop as Rugby League players within a performance pathway to the Women's Super League and Championship, while continuing their further education.
Formed through partnerships with local Women's Super League clubs and their Foundations, academies will support the growth of the women and girls’ game.
To achieve accredited status, colleges will have to have a significant connection to their local Women's Super League club, alongside proven commitment to the academy dual career model.
New College Pontefract will partner with The Rovers Foundation, as part of Featherstone Rovers.
Andrew Perch, New College Pontefract’s TASS Dual Career Coordinator, and Head of Rugby said: "I feel being an accredited academy will really add strength to the colleges enrichment programme and dual careers provision.
"The women's game is really growing and to be able to provide high quality training, alongside real playing opportunities, is a huge plus for our students.
"It will place them in a great position to make the transition from the college game to either university level and/or the Women's Super League.
"I am immensely pleased to be able to offer such an opportunity to our students and look forward to seeing their growth because of this new dual career structure we have so carefully worked on."
Head of Community Development at Featherstone Rovers Foundation, Amy Hardman, added: "We are absolutely delighted to be one of the first professional Rugby League clubs to run a girls development academy at Pontefract New College.
"It gives the aspiring girls a clear pathway from our elite talent pathway development days, to an academy and then into professional sport, with us running a Women's Super League side.
"The dual career academy system provides the ideal opportunity for young athletes wanting to be involved in a professional sporting environment whilst receiving education at a top-class establishment."
Wakefield College will partner with Wakefield Trinity to deliver their academy.
Ben Severn, Wakefield College Head of Competitive Sport, said: "By becoming one of the first girl's development academies, Wakefield College are proud to lead the way growing the sport locally but also hopefully on a national level.
"There are some very talented girls out there from all sports and backgrounds and by being an official RFL girl's development academy we can hopefully offer them a pathway into elite sport whilst also gaining an education.
"Whilst the game is not full time and professional, it is vital that the students have a dual career where their education and future is not hindered by rugby and vice versa, so they are able to perform at the highest possible level.
"This will hopefully feed a new generation of athletes into women's Rugby League and develop the already successful Super League and Championship, to create a really strong opportunity for young aspiring athletes to get involved through Wakefield College and Wakefield Trinity."
James Stephenson, Wakefield Trinity Community Trust's Community Development Manager, added: "We are delighted to be able to announce the partnership, between ourselves and Wakefield College, which has been developing over the last six months.
"To be able to recruit a Women & Girls Development Officer is huge for the sport but also Rugby League within Wakefield.
"Beyond the delivery within the college they will be responsible for assisting the local community clubs with their own growth around women & girls Rugby League.
"While we wish to develop home-grown female athletes, who will feature for Wakefield Trinity Ladies in Super League, we also know that we will help populate other teams.
"Over 50 girls registered their interest in playing for the Wakefield College Girls Rugby League Academy at the recent recruitment session, so we are optimistic that we will have a quality group to work with and help develop with the Rugby League World Cup in 2021 in mind."
RFL Director of Participation and Development, Marc Lovering commented: "It is great to see New College Pontefract and Wakefield Trinity become the first accredited academies.
"Their work around the community game and developing players will be hugely important to the development of the women and girls' game.
"I hope their success can encourage more colleges and Super League clubs to get involved with the development academy programme over the coming year."
Adam Hughes, RFL's Higher and Further Education Manager, said: "the launch of our Women's Development Academies is a huge step for us in the development and growth of the women and girls' game.
"The academies will offer dual career opportunities to players, allowing us to establish a clear performance pathway into the Women's Super League, whilst ensuring the players still get the opportunity to follow which ever education/career options they choose."