Friday, 1 March 2024
Friday, 1 March 2024

Rugby League season kicks off with support from people with Autism

TWO young men who have autism are achieving their dreams of working in sports media, as they continued their volunteering journey by attending the Betfred Super League launch at the Science and Industry Museum event, in Manchester.

Matt Price, 25 and Jake Lindsay, 21, are members of the award-winning Rugby League World Cup 2021 (RLWC2021) Inclusive Volunteering Programme, created by national social care charity Community Integrated Care. The charity led the world’s first-ever dedicated volunteering and personal development initiative for people who have care and support needs at a major event, through their official social care partnership with the sport rugby league.

Over 300 participants like Matt and Jake accessed specialist mentoring, life-changing personal development opportunities and once-in-a-lifetime moments throughout the tournament, designed to fulfil their potential, promote independence, and make dreams come true. Since the tournament, Community Integrated Care have continued their support of the volunteers through mentoring projects.

At the event, Matt and Jake worked alongside their professional journalism counterparts, asking the tough questions of some of the leading figures in the Super League ahead of the season kick-off between Warrington and Leeds Rhinos on February 16th.

Matt explained:

“It was a really cool experience to be invited to the official launch event. I interviewed Head Coaches Daryl Powell, Carlos Tuimavave, Steve McNamara, and Mark Applegarth. It was a bit nerve-wracking at first because you know that they will get asked the same questions over and over, but they were all happy to speak with me and were very supportive.

“Without my previous volunteering experience with Community Integrated Care, I would have gone to the event, but likely been in the background as I would have been too nervous. I absolutely love doing media work and particularly, in the sport I love. From the first press conference I went to, I was hooked. I hope to help more people like me with learning disabilities to get into sports through volunteering roles.”

As members of the charity’s Media and Photography Clubs, Matt and Jake have provided marketing support at international sporting events including, Magic Weekend, Super League and RLWC2021 fixtures, and even the UEFA Women’s Euro 2022.

At the RLWC2021 launch event in October, aspiring media presenter Jake interviewed a host of the sport’s biggest names, and his insight and intelligence were warmly received by Australia coach Mal Meninga and star full-back James Tedesco. 

Super League Marketing Manager, Katarina Graham, had seen first-hand the skills of both Matt and Jake which led to this personal invitation to attend the event.

She said:

“At last season’s Super League Fixture between Wigan Warriors and Warrington, Matt covered a multitude of roles – from providing pitch side photography support, live tweeting on official club accounts, and staying late for the post-game press conference, interviewing both head coaches with real skill and enthusiasm.

“Wigan’s Head Coach Matt Peet admired the talents of Matt, following with a personal letter of thanks to Matt and other Inclusive Volunteers Dylan and Katie, for their professional conduct and passion for the sport.

“We wanted to recognise Matt and Jake’s commitment to their craft and help to continue their professional development, alongside the invaluable support they receive from our partners Community Integrated Care. We’re excited to see what else is in store for the Inclusive Volunteers as we head into a new Super League season.” 

Lewis Webster, Community Integrated Care’s Sports Inclusion Communications Manager said:

“We’re delighted for Matt and Jake to have received the invitation to access such a prestige event in rugby league, in recognition of their developing skills and dedication. Through our specialist support and the extraordinary platform that our charity has as the Official Social Care Partner of the Super League, the Rugby Football League, and the RLWC2021, we’re proud to offer once-in-a-lifetime volunteering and personal development opportunities like this. 

“Matt and Jake are making their dreams a reality, and our thanks go to Super League for creating an inclusive, and accessible environment for people we support when accessing volunteering opportunities.”

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