Community rugby league clubs in the local area play a vital role in growing the game at grassroots level and castlefordtigers.com have been speaking to some of the Tigers’ first team stars to shine a light on how important amateur clubs were in their development.
First up is Callum McLelland, who was a former Fords academy standout and has recently returned to where it all started to join the club for the #NewCasEra.
The 22-year-old began his rugby league journey just a few hundred metres from The Mend-A-Hose Jungle at Lock Lane ARLFC, and the stand-off began by explaining how he first got into the sport.
“I used to play rugby union when I was young but when I was in year 3, so I was only 6 or 7, one of my friends at school asked if I wanted to come down to play at Lock Lane because his Dad was the coach.
“When I went down there, I really enjoyed it and I have never looked back since. I eventually chose rugby league over playing football or union.”
Amateur clubs are crucial in terms of player development; however, they also help mould youngsters by teaching them valuable life lessons along the way.
McLelland stated that this was definitely the case during his time with The Lane, by saying: “The main thing you learn coming through at a community club is about how the game brings everybody together. We definitely learnt this at Lock Lane because it is one of the best run clubs I have seen.
“My time there taught me a lot about respect as well and how that goes a long way. Everyone in the team has to respect the facilities, respect each other and respect the coaches.”
The experience, dedication and knowledge of local community coaches has a huge impact on young players, whether they go onto play professionally or go onto another profession and Callum singled out a few of the coaches who had the biggest impact on him.
“Any lad that plays around Cas, whether that be for Lock Lane or Cas Panthers, they will all have so much thanks for their clubs because we wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them.
“All the coaches I had, Ian Gales, Ian Wilkes and Lee Hughes were all massive contributors to my rugby league career.”
In closing, the Cas man gave thanks to his community club by pointing out that he wouldn’t be where he is today without their backing over the years.
“I’d like to say thank you to Lock Lane because I wouldn’t be the player I am today without coming through the system there.”