Amanda Courtman Rovers Tots Project Leader talks about the impact of rugby league on her and her daughters life.
On a warm Sunday afternoon, in June 2013, my daughter Beth and I arrived at Post Office Road, for the first time. Beth has Down Syndrome and Featherstone Rovers Foundation had donated 50 tickets to Wakefield carers, as part of their community development work.
We had never been to a rugby match before. My family had never followed the game and so we didn’t quite know what to expect, but the staff were so warm and welcoming that we felt immediately at home. We had a ‘Behind the Scenes Tour’ of the stadium and a talk from the coach, followed by some lunch and time to chat to other carers.
We took our seats in the main stand and when the match began, Beth and I were totally engrossed. We loved the fast pace of the play and the atmosphere in the ground was charged with excitement and a passion for
the club. We were hooked!
I started to attend each home game on my own, as Beth found it difficult to concentrate for the full match, and it became an escape from life and gave me something to look forward to, each week. Now that Beth is older attending home and away matches is our hobby and she cheers the team on with much enthusiasm. I never worry about taking Beth to matches because we feel safe. Beth is not judged negatively and so we can relax. She is welcomed by those around us and is treated as just another fan! We now attend every game we can, home and away and can truly say that we are Featherstone Rovers fans to the core.
A couple of years after our first visit, I saw an advert for a learning mentor at Featherstone Rovers, funded by ‘Children in Need’ and knew that I wanted to work at the club and become part of the Foundation team. At the interview I was so eager for the position, they couldn’t really say no! It was such a perfect and exciting post, as it brought all of my skills into play in the club I loved, I was over the moon to get the job!
I loved this job but it was difficult to support Beth after school so I started running the Rovers Tots sessions. Rovers Tots is a parent and toddler group, for under 5’s and we now have over 40 children attending each session! I try to make everyone feel welcome and really enjoy chatting with adults and children alike.
I was poorly, for a few weeks and on my return a Mum said “I’m really glad you are back, everyone else has been really lovely but without you it was just a room with toys”. I feel very privileged to be part of the lives of the families who attend our group.
I have to say that Rugby League has had a huge positive impact on my life and will have for many years to come.