The Princess Royal today meets with participants of FairPlay, a rugby-based education programme supported by Barclays Spaces for Sports and delivered across England in partnership with charity Wooden Spoon. She will attend rugby coaching and classroom sessions for the young people taking part in one of the projects at Middlesbrough Rugby Football Club (RFC).
More than 100 young people from Middlesbrough have registered in one of three FairPlay schemes, which involve eight-week courses combining rugby training delivered by the Rugby Football Union and classroom training delivered by the Enterprise Education Trust.
Each scheme involves young people from local Pupil Referral Units (PRUs) who have been excluded from mainstream education.
More than 40 FairPlay projects have been established across England so far, with more than 70 expected to follow.
The programme aims to help participants develop their physical fitness as well as life, communication and entrepreneurial skills. As well as funding the initiative, Barclays is also supporting classroom sessions by teaching young people how to manage their finances through the Barclays Money Skills programme.
Dave Reed, Development Officer for Teesside at the Rugby Football Union, said: “Feedback from the PRU teaching staff has been extremely positive.
“Before we began the schemes, the young people involved were operating as individuals and had little or no experience of teamwork.
“During the scheme they have come together and bonded, and as a result PRU staff are reporting improved behaviour in the classroom.”
Keith Bircham, Club President at Middlesbrough Rugby Football Club, added: “Often some lads are no different to any others.
“They need some discipline and direction and in some cases they need to know someone cares about them.
“At Middlesbrough RFC, we are delighted to be involved with FairPlay and who knows, perhaps one day we will see one of the lads introduced to the club by FairPlay playing in the first team!”
Barclays Spaces for Sports, launched in the UK in 2004, is a community sports sponsorship programme using sport to revitalise disadvantaged communities and tackle key social issues in countries around the world where Barclays operates.
It is part of Looking after Local Communities, an initiative through which Barclays invests in the communities where it has a presence in order to meet the social needs of local stakeholders.