One of the UK’s biggest social care charities, Community Integrated Care, has shared their expertise with Rugby League coaches from across the UK, delivering a specialist training day and providing a valuable insight into the lives of players, ahead of the upcoming Learning Disability Super League (LDSL) 2023 season.
Community Integrated Care’s LDSL is an innovative programme that gives people who have learning disabilities and autism the chance to play a specially adapted version of rugby league for the clubs that they love. Representatives of Super League teams attended the CPD (Continuing Professional Development) workshop at Hopwood Hall College in Rochdale, for sessions led by the charity’s Partnerships and Communities Manager, Craig Thomason.
The LDSL aims to promote the development of skills, confidence, and positive experiences, and make a major statement about social inclusion. This initiative is the first ever example of a professional sports league sharing its brand with a learning disability sports project.
Developed in partnership with the Rugby Football League, Super League and the national social care charity Community Integrated Care, the initiative has enabled more than 300 people to live their dreams playing at Anfield and St James’ Park.
Central to the training was how the coaches as a collective group can continue to improve players’ experiences in the LDSL, as it prepares for its first two festivals of the season at Wigan and Leeds on Saturday April 22.
Craig Thomason explained,
“Throughout the day we discussed why the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League was created and why there was a need for it; why these players can’t access other forms of mainstream rugby league.
“That helped everyone to realise how important this programme is to people, and how the LDSL has become a focal point for their lives. We also discussed how much of a gateway it can be to other opportunities, and how it can support the personal development of the people involved so they can live their best lives possible.”
The event was split into two parts – a morning focusing on the ethos and direction of the LDSL, along with a review of the 2022 season and key focal points for the new campaign. In the afternoon the coaches had access to autism and disability training, and how this can impact the work that they do at their respective clubs.
Craig added, “We looked at how you can amend your coaching techniques to get the best out of your players, and make our sessions present the most inclusive environment for the players. We want to, as coaches and support staff, make the 2023 season the best we’ve seen.”
The 2023 Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League kicks off with festivals in Wigan and Leeds on Saturday April 22, and will again be part of the sport’s Magic Weekend in Newcastle on June 3 and 4.