Rugby League success with Huddersfield’s Asian community

Over 200 members of Huddersfield’s Asian communities celebrated the end of a productive and successful year for Asian participation in Rugby League at the Galpharm Stadium on Friday night.


The RFL presented members of the Huddersfield based Pakistani Youth Forum with Rugby League equipment at the match between Huddersfield Giants and Wigan Warriors which will enable them to begin delivering taster sessions within their local communities


“We’re committed to making Rugby League an open and inclusive game for all sections of society to get involved in and I’m delighted with the work that has been undertaken in a partnership between the Huddersfield Pakistani Youth Forum (PYF), the RFL, Huddersfield based St Joseph ARLFC and Huddersfield Giants,” said RFL Equality and Diversity manager Sarah Williams.


“Rugby League is a fantastic sport and there are no divisions within the games culture and it’s been great to see the local Asian communities embrace the sport and get involved.


“All the partner organisations and the local community leaders have shown a great deal of desire and commitment to taking Rugby League into communities where the sport is not traditionally played and I commend the work of all involved at breaking down the barriers.”


Prior to the game, boys and girls from South Asian families in the area participated in a Rugby League skills session delivered by the Huddersfield Giants along with professional Rugby League player Saqib Murtza who plays for Co-operative Championship One side London Skolars who was also on hand to talk about his experiences as a professional player.  


The session was a continuation of a successful female only taster course which was organized by the Pakistani Youth Forum last year following the results of an RFL action research project to highlight the experiences and perceptions of Rugby League within Asian Muslim communities.


Since then, the RFL have been working closely with the Pakistani Youth Forum, the Huddersfield Giants and Huddersfield based amateur Rugby League club St Josephs to develop a relationship which has seen many members of the local BME community take up the sport of Rugby League and has inspired several members of the community to begin their Level One coaching qualifications.


The donation of equipment to the PYF follows the RFL’s recent appointed of Halima Khan to the new post of National Schools Officer, with the remit of increasing the number of schools competing in Rugby League competitions all over the country.


Halima joins the RFL from Bradford Council where she worked as a Sports Officer and will also have responsibility for increasing the number of Schools Rugby League competitions across the nine Sport England regions.


“We will be looking to reach out to areas across England which don’t currently have high participation rates and get more schools involved while also strengthening the existing competitions,” said Khan, who is a qualified Level 2 Rugby League Coach and has previously coached Bradford Service Area Rugby League team.


“Rugby League seems to be the biggest sport at school level and I want to help teachers with resource packs which will enable them to increase participation even further.


“It’s important that we build cross curriculum links and highlight to schools how they will benefit from playing Rugby League as well as promoting the fundamental health, social and discipline benefits pupils get out of playing the sport.”