With 2020 in the rear-view mirror, we have time to reflect on the tremendous efforts put in by the Castleford Tigers Foundation and all their staff throughout the past year.
The Foundation represents the charitable arm of the club, and we work with a range of local partners including: schools, community clubs, local councils, businesses and many, many more to promote positive lifestyle choices, engage and give back to the Five Towns community. There’s too much to mention everything we got up to in 2020, but this is the ideal opportunity to highlight some of the immensely rewarding projects that we could help deliver during a very different year!
The year began in earnest with our regular provisions in schools: Foundation Development Officers working with numerous local schools in the form of P.E sessions, after-school clubs, and other community-based projects.
As well as working with children in schools, the Foundation welcomed several community clubs to Tigers’ home fixtures in the early part of the year, with Brotherton Bulldogs, Normanton Knights, and Sherburn Bears all being fantastic ambassadors for their clubs and enjoying the chance to be flag bearers and mascots at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. Some of these young players will no doubt have impressed on the open access “Tigers Talent Pathway” which ran for the first time in February and aims to provide access to quality coaching and facilities for aspiring rugby league players.
By March, both our Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL) teams and Learning Disability Rugby League (LDRL) teams were training hard in anticipation of their new season, and the Castleford Tigers College was entering its 3rd year, will all students performing to their usual high standards. Additionally, our health and wellbeing scheme “Back Onside” was running in partnership with Rugby League Cares, and great strides had been made by all participants thanks to the coaching of Tiger’s legend Dean Sampson.
Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic put much of this great work on pause, with lockdown forcing many programmes to be suspended for a few months. However this wasn’t going to stop the Foundation! Many staff members worked round the clock to step up and continue their supportive work round the community: Special thanks to club sponsor’s Motorpoint for helping to support not one but two fantastic initiatives: Tigers Home Point operated before lockdown and helped to provide food packs and other essentials to those most in need during the pandemic, before Motorpoint Castleford hosted a drive-in cinema to help raise funds for the Foundation and the club’s charity partner, The Prince of Wales Hospice: A dark and rainy evening didn’t put many people off as over 70 cars turned up to see Pretty Woman on the big screen, raising over £1000 for each charity!
The Coronavirus Pandemic was a testing time for all of us, but it also provided the opportunity for the dedication of our key workers to be recognised! The Key Worker Spotlight launched back in April and saw the community really come together to help nominate and appreciate those individuals who have helped unite and inspire the country. Nominated individuals included everyone from nurses to essential couriers and all were rewarded with a ticket to a future Tigers’ home game and we can’t wait to welcome you back! Furthermore, thanks to a generous anonymous donor, the Club and Foundation were able to give away a number of first team-signed shirts to key workers in the local area to thank them and as a reminder that 2020 could have looked very, very different if not for their dedication!
September saw Foundation staff return to schools for the first time since March! Looking a little different with appropriate social distancing measures and Coronavirus precautions in place, nonetheless it was good to see those happy faces again when we popped in! October half-term also saw the Tigers Talent Pathway return, ably supported by Morrisons Castleford who provided nearly ninety lunches over three days for our participants to help support the campaign for free school meals!
There was, of course, time for reflection, as well as celebration, and with Remembrance Day set to look very different this year, we were humbled to be able to help honour the sacrifices of all the servicemen and -women, past and present, from the Five Towns Area with a laying of a wreath at Airedale Academy.
With Christmas fast approaching, club mascot JT had to lend Santa a helping hand as part of “Kits for Kids”, a scheme to ensure as many local children as possible can pull on a Tigers’ shirt to cheer on their favourite team! In total, over 300 shirts were given out to pupils at schools in the local area, with some friendly faces lending a hand as Colson Smith and Adrian Vowles helped to share our story!
It wasn’t just the Foundation helping out over Christmas of course, Supermarket giant Morrisons and their Community Champions were able to providing selection boxes and biscuits for secondary school pupils as a Christmas treat.
All-in-all, a very unique year! Not without its challenges and the Foundation couldn’t have made it through without you: We as a Foundation, really hope to make a difference and help people in our area feel cared for, and without the commitment of our supporters’ time, effort, and money, we simply wouldn’t be able to do that. A big, big thank you from all of us here at the Foundation, we hope to go on to bigger and better things in 2021.
See you next year!