COMMUNITY

Hillhead/Jordanhill RFC and The Sporting Aces

Hillhead/Jordanhill RFC has for many years played a key role in providing rugby to the surrounding schools and community’s close to the club. We as a club are striving to provide access to all regarding rugby and we are proud to be all inclusive regarding age and gender. Several years ago our current club president (Gary Kitchener) introduced HJRFC to a small community club in East Dunbartonshire that provides sport and social opportunities to children and adults with special educational needs. 

As a parent of a child with learning difficulties, Gary recognised that the values encouraged at HJRFC could be transferred to this community project, (The Tennis Aces). Originally the Tennis Aces was set up by Allwyn Crawford in 2015, a tennis coach based in Lenzie, to get children and adults involved in sport. Gary’s daughter got involved and quickly both Allwyn and Gary realised that many of the Tennis Aces participants sought to get a taste for other sports. Gary had coached ladies rugby for four years at HJRFC so it was an easy transition to start showing the Tennis Aces some rugby drills and fun games.

Both coaches decided a joint fun day of Tennis and Rugby could be held at Hillhead Sports club in 2018. By the end of the day some 16 players were running around and meeting a few celebrities with rugby ball in hand and learned a few new skills from some of the 1st XV players who Gary co-opted in to volunteering for the day.

The following year Kirkintilloch Leisure Centre in East Dunbartonshire provided the venue to another taster session for rugby skills. Some 40 children and adults were introduced to rugby, overseen by Gary and one of the 1st XV players and schools coach (Rory Harte).

Gary has volunteered nearly every Sunday since then doing various rugby warm up drills, games and skill sessions with the Tennis Aces. In response to the collaboration between HJRFC and The Tennis Aces, the Aces logo was worn with pride on the HJRFC match day jerseys in 2018/19.

Such was the response to rugby and other sports the Tennis Aces decided to become a Charity (SCO049762) and change their name to The Sporting Aces. The following is a resume of the Charity’s aspirations;

The Sporting Aces is a sport-based community Charity working with adults, young people and children who have a range of physical, learning and communication difficulties. The project is based in Kirkintilloch and surrounding local area.

The aims are:

The advancement of health through the delivery of sporting and social activities, working with adults, young people and children who have a range of physical, learning and communication difficulties.

  • The advancement of public participation in sport through the provision of a multi sports coaching programme. This enables participants to be successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors, and responsible citizens.
  • To provide a seamless transition from Nursery to adulthood through a structured pathway.
  • The advancement of citizenship / community development through the delivery of volunteer programmes for both young people and adults ensuring we have strong, resilient, and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others.

Since then a lot has changed at HJRFC as Gary became club president, he continues however, to be heavily involved in the Sporting Aces as a Trustee and coach. The Sporting Aces continues to have a big part of HJRFC. As you would expect Gary’s time is precious but he has kick started a project where two of the Sporting Aces volunteers will be trained up to become disability rugby coaches under the HJRFC umbrella. They are currently undergoing PVG and will start their level one coaching soon.

We are planning a gala day this summer/autumn when Covid restrictions allow as this year has suspended events especially rugby but hopefully a new crop of participant can experience the joy of running around with a rugby ball again.

Now that the Sporting Aces is an established charity thoughts turned to creating a group with the sole purpose of providing an inclusive sports opportunity for children and adults who would not normally have a chance to experience mainstream sports such as tennis and rugby. Promoting Inclusion Through Sport (PITS) runs small festivals for children and adults with ASN in a safe and caring environment. Allwyn and Gary have now recruited some young vibrant assistants to help produce a fun learning experience at recognised sports clubs including Hillhead Sports Club where HJRFC and Hillhead Tennis club are based. We have already run a morning festival at Hillhead Sports Club for children and adults to immerse them in a club situation in July 2022. 

The aim of the festival is fun for all and inclusion for all. Further festivals have been achieved at Broadwood Sports Centre, Dunblane Sports Club and Titwood Tennis Club and a further one is organised for Drumchapel Tennis Club. Going in to winter we hope to provide indoor teaching and workshops based around other sports such as walking netball and boccia.

HJRFC is proud to be associated with Promoting Inclusion Through Sport.