Bears coaching sessions attract rugby league fans from across the city

Bears have been given £100K funding boost to help launch Bears 5's

Plans to develop rugby league in Coventry have roared into action with players taking up the new community initiative, Bears 5’s, which was launched back in May.

Participants as young as 14 up to 50 – many for the first time – seized the opportunity to experience rugby league first-hand with coaching from Coventry Bears players across a number of taster sessions.

James Geurtjens and Jamahl Hunte have been leading training taster sessions to give expert guidance and teach players the intricacies of the game.

Bell Green born and bred, Trae O’Sullivan – who is just 19 years old and a contracted player for the Bears – was also in attendance to show players the exciting opportunities that playing rugby league could open up.

The sessions were the first to be delivered as part of Bears 5’s – a project which is seeing Coventry Bears provide free rugby league coaching, with the ultimate aim of setting up new amateur clubs across Coventry.

Tasters took place across three venues in the city where the project will be delivered, including Xcel Leisure Centre, in Canley, Alan Higgs Centre, in Binley, and Moat House Leisure Centre, in Bell Green.

 Jamahl Hunte (left) with Bears 5’s players and James Geurtjens (right) at the Alan Higgs

Jamahl Hunte (left) with Bears 5’s players and James Geurtjens (right) at the Alan Higgs

Conor Kelly, Coventry Bears community manager, said the sessions have been a positive starting point for Bears 5’s.

“Taster sessions have been really important for Coventry Bears in terms of raising awareness of Bears 5’s to key audiences as well as helping us reach and engage with new demographics from a non-traditional rugby playing background,” he said.

“In comparison to large teams, five-a- side Touch rugby league is a fun, quick and sociable game so people were enthusiastic to give it a go”.

The project, which received £100,000 funding from Sport England, is unique to Coventry and the first to launch as part of City of Rugby, which is working to establish Coventry as a leading city in the world for every level of the game by 2023 – rugby’s 200th anniversary.

Tom Clift, programme manager for Engage! which is co-ordinating City of Rugby, said: “Bears 5’s is the first project to launch under the City of Rugby umbrella and it’s fantastic to hear it has received such wide interest already.

“One of the initiative’s aims is to structure development both within rugby league and rugby union in Coventry – and Bears 5’s is a great and innovative way of enhancing involvement with rugby league across the city.”

Regular Bears 5’s sessions will now run weekly at each venue every Monday for players aged 18 and over and every Wednesday for youth players aged 14-18.

Conor added: “Following the taster sessions we’re now coming into a period of regular evening sessions twice weekly.

“We’re looking to engage with organisations and workplaces within each area as Bears 5’s will provide staff with the opportunity to get active during the summer months.

“Rugby league five-a- side is incredibly accessible and only requires a small group to play, so for those interested we urge you to come along so you can experience the fun of the game.”

Bears Media