First Year Finale
By Michael Shires
Great achievements tend to be the result of lots of small steps taken over a period of time, there is rarely, if ever, a magic bullet to success. When you add up all the little steps, the one percenters, something special can happen, be that in the sports arena or any of life’s pursuits. The Bears have made it to the end of the first season as a semi-professional club, an important small step. We should all, including you dear reader (you have played your part), be very proud of this achievement. Whilst we have not won any silverware, and lost more matches than we have won, the 2015 season has been an unqualified success.
We have fulfilled every fixture and grown a crowd base from zero to register an average home attendance of 491. For a brand new club in the Kingstone Press League 1 this is a major achievement, in fact we have the greatest home average crowd of all the Southern based clubs in League 1 who have been operating for a number of years longer than we have. We have attracted new fans and sponsors to the game and set up a new business generating income for the city of Coventry that employs local people as well as providing free coaching for local school children.
Whilst we will strive to become more competitive on the field next season, we have to remember that this season’s recruitment was undertaken with a weather view eye on the seasons to come. The average age of a Bears’ first team player is 23 and we only have nine players aged 25 or over. As our young squad matures, gains experience at this level and we add a sprinkling of more experienced players we will undoubtedly move up the league table.
Another of our aims at the Bears is to be a beacon of Rugby League development in Warwickshire and the Midlands. At first team level we have provided professional Rugby League debuts to eight players from the Midlands; three from Leicester, three from Coventry, one from Bromsgrove and one from Northampton. During this season we have used 49 players, which is to be expected given we had to build a new squad for this season. However, in recent weeks player turnover has fallen as the team has settled down and performances have improved.
At the other end of the spectrum we have provided a six week engagement scheme to 400 children within Coventry, introducing them to the wonderful sport of Rugby League and providing a pathway into the sport at amateur level. Look out for more announcements over the off season on our initiatives to grow this great sport and provide a valuable community activity in the region.
Many new teams in professional sport take time to bed in e.g. Catalan Dragons finished their first season bottom of the pile in Super League. Like Catalan we should not rest on our laurels but need to push on. After today’s game we cannot say “this is our first season” anymore and we should set our sights high. You can help this wonderful club, that we are all part of, grow and prosper in many different ways from being a sponsor, purchasing a 2016 season ticket, to wearing club apparel around town. We can all contribute and take a small step for the Bears, because we all know what happens when you add up those small steps.