“We want to create a special project that will engage, inspire and lead young local teenagers through the power of sport."
Those were the words of the coaches of the newly formed Bognor Rugby Academy after it received a £500 cash boost from Sussex Police.
PCSO Neil Billingham, of the Arun Prevention Team, said he was delighted to present a cheque, which came from the Police Property Act Fund (PPAF), made up of monies received by the police from the sale of unclaimed lost property and property confiscated by order of the courts and then sold.
The academy, based in Hampshire Avenue, was created this year to combine players from the Under 17 and Under 18 age groups.
In a joint statement, coaches Doug Millen, Rob Outen and Tom Spurle said: “We want to create a special project that will engage, inspire and lead young local teenagers through the power of sport, especially rugby. Player retention is always very difficult at this age. It is easy for teenagers to find other things to do that are quite often not productive or healthy.
“As boys move into their A level and college years, we see a big drop off in attendance, losing many players to other activities. Through this academy, we will be creating a player pathway from youth to senior rugby.
"Players will be able to play at the most appropriate level for their own development, either staying at age grade, playing up to the older colts level and eventually, when they are ready (and old enough), moving into senior teams."
The coaches said the academy will involve boys aged between 16 and 18, 'offering free gym access, nutrition seminars, outdoor fitness sessions, rugby coaching and mentoring'.
The statement added: "[We are] making it accessible for all and non-exclusive is crucial due to the fact many of boys reside in the PO21 5 and PO22 9 areas. We also have some fantastic ‘memory builders’ planned which will motivate and inspire the boys to have a long life interest in sport and healthy living.
“This donation has been put towards new training equipment including tackle bags and pads.
“Bognor Rugby Club is is always open to new players of any age group. Rugby is a sport that teaches respect, discipline and teamwork. Youth teams train/play matches on Wednesday and Sunday; seniors on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.”