Community Club Catterick Crusaders are growing from strength to strength in the North East with teams ranging from U6s to the Open Age, but it’s the U8s and Neil who’ve taken the game by storm in 2021.
Neil was diagnosed with Autism at the age of four and was non-verbal until he was five and had previously struggled to settle at sports clubs and environments consisting of large groups of people until he discovered Catterick Crusaders.
Beginning with a ten-minute session, Neil’s attendance and involvement at sessions increased throughout 2021 which included staying for full training sessions before recently culminating in him making his debut for the U8s side in a recent festival organised by the Catterick club.
Neil’s Dad, also named Neil, said: “Attending that first session was a massive achievement for Neil and I was so surprised when he asked if he could return, and he’s hardly ever missed a session since.
“His coaches Simon Glenn and Stephen Horsley have been instrumental in Neil’s development over the past season. They both understand Neil’s training needs and are absolutely brilliant with him.
“Neil has achieved three milestones this season which he is extremely proud – taking up the sport with a real sense of pride, staying for a full 90-minute session and finally getting to take to the field with his teammates for the first time!
“These achievements would not have been made possible had it not been for the support of the excellent coaches at Catterick Crusaders, especially Simon and Stephen who Neil has really responded positively too.
“Neil is already looking forward to next season and is definitely going to continue his pursuit of playing Rugby when he is older.”
Catterick Crusaders Chairman, Jason Grant, said: “As a club we’ve always taken pride in creating lifetime memories for our Juniors.
“Over the years we’ve had them involved at events at Newcastle Thunder and Leeds Rhinos, at the Magic Weekend, they escorted Hull FC at the Challenge Cup Final, and they’ve been to England Internationals.
“However, with Neil, we’ve realised those lifetime memories can be created in other ways. To watch his journey this year has been amazing.”
For more information on Catterick Crusaders, visit their website here.