Aspiring young female netball and rugby players invited to free taster sessions at leading Welsh college

Coleg y Cymoedd is calling on girls aged between 14 and 18 who have a passion for sports to attend free taster sessions designed to give them an insight into what it could be like to study them full-time at a specialist female academy.

Coleg y Cymoedd is hosting eight two-hour taster sessions in rugby and netball throughout July and August ahead of the launch of its dedicated female sports academy in September, which will provide professional training and tutoring alongside academic qualifications.

The new Female Sports Academy, which will run in partnership with the University of South Wales, will offer learners aged 16 to 18 practical and theory-based teaching from leading strength and conditioning experts as well as experienced coaches. These include Wales women’s rugby under 18s head coach, Catrina Nicholas McGaughlin, former Welsh rugby union player, Gareth Wyatt, and Celtic Dragons netballer, Shona O’Dwyer.

The taster sessions will give young girls in South Wales the opportunity to see what it could be like to follow their sporting dreams and attend the Academy themselves. They will include an introduction into their chosen sport, speed and agility fitness training as well as strength and conditioning advice tailored specifically to the female body. Learners will also have access to Coleg y Cymoedd’s brand new state of the art Sports Facility Centre of Excellence which is due to open in May at its Nantgarw campus.

The summer tasters have been added following the popularity of an initial four sessions run by Coleg y Cymoedd in February, which saw more than 90 girls attend each session.

Commenting on the success of the initiatives, Rachel Hughes, head of the Female Academy at Coleg y Cymoedd said: “It’s been amazing to see so many passionate girls attending these sessions – really getting stuck in – and leaving feeling excited about their futures. We had initially only planned five sessions, but due to the demand we’ve now upped the total to 12.

“It feels like an exciting time to be a woman in sport, as our leading coaches and trainers can show these girls how their bodies respond to different types of training tailored to them rather than providing them with the male physiologically focused training plans we so often see.”

Alongside their two years of sports training at the college and local clubs, learners joining the Academy can also study higher education qualifications such as A Levels, diplomas and BTEC, at Coleg y Cymoedd in any subject they choose.  They will also have access to mental health and wellbeing support from the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS) – a programme funded by national sport governing bodies designed to help athletes aged 16-plus find a happy medium between their education and sporting development, to help the future stars of national and professional teams.

Rachel added: “Essentially, we wanted to make sure that we’re evening out the playing field for boys and girls as best we can. We want girls to have the opportunity to study art, maths, or anything they enjoy and are good at while receiving leading training in their sport and getting support on how to balance all these elements healthily.

“At Coleg y Cymoedd, TASS learners follow a timetable that prioritises a healthy work-life balance, as we consider students’ academic deadlines alongside their sporting commitments. The learners take their classes together to build both an on-pitch and off-pitch community, contributing to team morale and support.”

The sessions will take place on the 13th April (USW Sports Park), 26th & 28th June, 3rd & 5th July, 21st, 22nd, 29th & 30th August (Coleg y Cymoedd, Nantgarw) between from 9:30am – 12pm. Any girl aged between 14-18 is welcome to attend the taster sessions. For more information on Coleg y Cymoedd’s Female Academy and the netball and rugby taster sessions, please contact Rachel Hughes at Rachel.Hughes@cymoedd.ac.uk

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