Coleg y Cymoedd opens up specialist female athlete provision to girls in the RCT and Caerphilly communities

Local girls between the ages of 14 and 16 can take advantage of the best that female sport has to offer, thanks to new workshops being run by Coleg y Cymoedd.

This Spring, in partnership with University of South Wales, Cymoedd is running five free netball and rugby half-day workshops, aimed at participants of all standards, from beginners to seasoned pros. An extension of Cymoedd’s Female Academy, the sessions will provide an insight into female-specific training strategies, and allow for a ‘taster’ experience of the best of the college’s provisions.

Setting Cymoedd apart from other institutions, the Female Academy offers a bespoke training programme aligned to the female menstrual cycle, with access to the Talented Athlete Scholarship Scheme (TASS), Welsh-leading strength and conditioning coaches, and tutorage from Welsh National Rugby Coach for U18s and U20s, Catrina Nicholas McGaughlin, Welsh Senior and Celtic Dragons Netballer, Shona O’Dwyer, and Head of Rugby and ex-senior Wales Coach, Gareth Wyatt.

The first of the five sessions took place in February, and reached maximum capacity with weeks to spare. Almost 80 participants enjoyed an interactive skills carousel comprising of a speed and agility clinic, an introduction to their chosen sport, and a presentation on the benefits of TASS.

TASS is a programme funded by national governing bodies of sport to help athletes aged 16-plus find a happy medium between their education and sporting development. The pathway aims to bring out the best of young, sporting talent, and identify future stars for national and professional teams.

In Coleg y Cymoedd, TASS learners follow a timetable that prioritises a healthy work-life balance, as tutors 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 between likeminded peers.

Commenting on the success of the first session, Rugby Hub and Wellbeing Officer, Gavin Gallagher, said: “It was great to see girls from different backgrounds – some of whom had never picked up a rugby ball in their life – come together at the end of it all to agree that rugby is something that they love.

He went on to say: “We set these sessions up for girls from school and community clubs across Rhondda Cynon Taf and Caerphilly, to experience the excellent facilities that Coleg y Cymoedd has to offer.

What’s good about these sessions is that you may find someone who loved the idea of playing sport, but lack of provision, support, or local female clubs prevented them from taking part. The Female Academy Workshops allow everyone to enjoy the sport that they love, and become a part of something greater.”

Sign-ups for session two are live now. Set to take place on 7th March 2023, the day will be dedicated to the participant’s sport of choice, and is open to both previous attendees, and those who did not manage to get tickets the first time around.

Campus Coordinator for Sport and Public Services and Head of the Female Academy, Rachel Hughes, added: “The workshops have been cleverly designed so that they can be taken as a progression of

the last one, or as a standalone. This way, participants get to experience something new each time they attend.”

Speaking of upcoming workshops, Rachel continued: “Participants can still expect to take part in strength and conditioning workshops and benefit from video analysis of their physical performance.

There will be an opportunity for the girls, their school teachers, or parents and guardians to create a direct link with us to answer any questions they may have, and to enquire about future enrolment.”

To sign up for a session, or to learn more about Coleg y Cymoedd’s Female Academy provision, contact: Gavin.Gallager@cymoedd.ac.uk or Rachel.Hughes@cymoedd.ac.uk

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