Jess Hayburn talks about her placement at the Featherstone Rovers Foundation
My first session was called Rovers Tots which is a parent and toddler group that aims to give children a space to play while also giving parents time to interact with other parents and guardians. My role was to help set up the room with toys and activities for the session as well as preparing food and drink for the parents and children.
Another project I helped with was called IT and Biscuits that aims to teach the elderly how to use computers and smartphones. It also allows individuals time to have a drink and talk with others where they may not be able to out of these sessions. This project was run by Amy who introduced me to the members. I observed as she delivered a session on how to access and send emails, then set me on helping the members with any issues they had regarding the session.
Finally, I participated in the school sport programme with the other coaches to deliver various sports to children at lunch times, after school clubs and during school hours. I helped support coaches in sports such as football, volleyball, netball and rugby etc.
Initially I was apprehensive about working with such extroverted characters as I have a quiet and reserved personality. As a result, I felt I would not fit well within the team and ultimately ruin my chances of getting the most out of my placement due to my personal barriers. I struggled with this for quite some time and felt as though there was very little I could offer the Foundation and during coaching sessions, I would tend to observe rather than involve myself in the activity. Knowing this was a flaw, I made a conscious effort to try and overcome it throughout my placement.
Furthermore, I was given my first challenge for both my confidence and coaching skills. With members of staff on holiday, some sessions had to be covered by other coaches, however one session could not be covered and so I was tasked with taking it. Within a couple of hours, I had to create a session plan for a hockey after school club and deliver my own session independently.
As well as my regular schedule, I was also tasked with organising and wrapping presents that the Foundation intended to take to local hospitals for the children’s wards. I was also fortunate enough to go with the staff members to see the children receive their presents. We were also thanked by the Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Charity for our contribution to the children. Being able to see the impact the Foundation had on the community was a humbling experience and it made me glad that I was able to work with such an organisation for my placement.
I was able to do this by joining one of the coaches to a project called Millennium Care. This aims to involve adults with learning difficulties in sports. We delivered a hockey session and it was interesting to work with an entirely different demographic than what I was used to. While I involved partly in the activities, I found myself predominantly observing the session to see how adults with learning difficulties interact.
Working with the Foundation, I had gained an immense amount of experience by being able to work with so many members of the community. This included toddlers to elderly; teaching sport to primary school children, working with adult learning disabilities and by simply interacting with staff members. One group that I had not had the opportunity to work with thus far was the actual members of the Featherstone Rovers rugby team.
With the confidence and desire to push myself, I asked if there was a possibility of seeing them train and they kindly said I could. During training I was able to watch the first team and the reserves team work towards their match. I saw the strength and conditioning aspects, the skill work and the team cohesion. I was also able to note key differences in how the first team and reserves acted towards training. While only a small part of my placement, I feel this was a significant achievement in terms of my future career goals as I was able to witness how sports teams work. Also, I saw how an interdisciplinary team worked in practice to get the best performance out of the players which would be a major part for my future career.
Furthermore, with the charity also being based at a professional rugby league club, I had to apply confidentiality regarding new signings for the team and other club news.