THE LLANELLI WARRIORS are looking to celebrate their 20th anniversary with one of the most ambitious trips ever undertaken by a club that includes players with disabilities. The club begin their season in Betws on Sunday (Sept 4)
After 20 seasons of including players with learning disabilities in rugby, the club wanted something spectacular to celebrate.
For their 10th anniversary, the club followed the Lions to New Zealand, playing three matches of their own.
Although the Lions are again in New Zealand this summer, the Warriors were keen to do something different and go even further.
So rather than return to Wellington and Auckland, they will follow the Welsh team’s tour of the Pacific Islands by travelling to Fiji.
When the Warriors were formed, it was to give people with learning disabilities the chance to play rugby.
Growing up in one of the great rugby towns of the world, the players were perhaps the only people excluded from taking part.
But, as the club developed, the aim was not only to give them the chance to experience rugby and be part of what their friends and family did, but to have experiences that would raise their status and standing as rugby players again.
The club have found that apart from the fitness and social factors you would expect from be part of a rugby team, it has been a massive confidence boost.
Parents have regularly told the club that they can’t believe the difference in their sons. They have had social workers tell them that it’s transformed people’s self-esteem, even the way they walk and hold their head.
The club often have players come to them, introverted and quiet, but they find friends, support, at least one part of rugby they are good at, they travel and take on able bodied athletes, they socialise, they do things and some of these players go on to give speeches, captain the team or lead a singsong.
The players who went to New Zealand came back with experiences few of their peers could match and memories that will last a lifetime.
For probably the first time ever, they had other local players jealous of them and what they had achieved. It changed the players’ attitude and it changed people’s attitude to them.
That’s something which the club are are trying to create again by heading for Fiji. People talk about the rugby culture of Wales and New Zealand, but the Pacific Islands manage so much with tiny resources.
Anyone interested in rugby can relate to the dream of going out there, an exotic location and some of the best rugby players in the world, as proved by their Olympic champions 7s team. Whilst the team are there, they hope to liaise with local disability groups, sharing some of their good practise and no doubt learning some things themselves.
Obviously the tour is going to be expensive and so there will be a whole series of fundraising activities across the season and the team are looking for help and sponsorship wherever they can find it.
This will invigorate a whole community of families and again highlight the concept of mixed ability rugby, and that a disability shouldn’t be a barrier to playing the game.
The team aim to show people around the world, from Furnace to Fiji, what inclusive rugby means and they are going to give some local players the trip of a lifetime.
LLANELLI TOWN AFC VS PENRHYNCOCH FC
LLANELLI TOWN AFC VS PENRHYNCOCH FC
LLANELLI TOWN 0 PENRHYNCOCH 1
A blast from the past in the form of former Reds` favourite, Antonio Corbisiero, ended their interest in the JD Welsh Cup for another season in this second round tie.
His stunning 19th minute volley demonstrated he has lost little of the craft which he used to employ to such good effect in the more heady days of the club`s history, and how they could do with him now as he was head and shoulders above anyone on either side.
Another patched-up home outfit, once again missing several key players, were, quite frankly, abysmal, struggling to establish any meaningful pattern to their play, particularly in the first half, with far too many errors allied with some careless passing which gifted possession to their opponents.
They were reduced to firing hopeful long-range efforts which seldom looked capable of reaching the intended target, with Kyle Copp in the forefront of this tactic, to no great effect.
The visitors also seemed incapable of any worthwhile attacking ploys, and it took Corbisiero`s strike to lift the contest out of mediocrity when he met a delivery from the right by Jack Rimmer on the edge of the box to volley sweetly past the despairing clutches of Scott Coughlan in the home goal.
Even this setback did little to stir the Reds out of their lethargy, and while they continued to enjoy plenty of possession, they seldom looked capable of levelling matters.
Ryan Hurlow had a tame effort easily dealt with by the Roosters` keeper, Leigh Jenkins, while he also parried and gathered an effort from distance by James Loveridge.
With a forgettable first half over, the Reds did up the anti after the restart, and were certainly more forceful in their efforts to secure the goal which would level matters, but once again wrong decisions at the vital time proved costly, typified by Morgan Cutler opting to pass inside when he had a viable shooting opportunity.
Their best, and as it turned out, only real chance arose when Jenkins opted to come off his line to challenge for a ball on the edge of the box but instead allowed it to run loose, affording Tim Parker a clear strike on the vacant net, but he failed to connect cleanly, allowing Jonathan Foligno to scramble it off the line and away from danger.
This was about as good as it got for the hosts, and even with their opponents visibly flagging as the game progressed, they still were unable to press home the advantage.
In fact, it was the other end of the field which provided the best chances when the visitors broke, with Gwion Pugh-Jones first failing to convert a ball bobbling about in the area, while Tomos Evans missed a
good chance at the far post following a run and cross by Steffan Davies.
Parker did have an effort deflected for a corner when he was found by Zac Brown, and Liam Samuel curled his finish just wide.
The Roosters then should have put the result beyond doubt when Evans was put clear in acres of space, but with only Coughlan to beat he directed his finish at the keeper who gratefully diverted it away.
As the contest entered its closing stages, an increasingly desperate home outfit did manage a couple of efforts on target, but these were capably dealt with by Jenkins, and the final whistle signalled the end of the Reds` further involvement in the competition.
Some serious work is needed if their season is not to descend into mediocrity, and the visit of Undy Athletic on Saturday could yet provide the springboard needed for a revival in fortunes. Kick off is at 2.30 p.m.
LLANELLI TOWN; Coughlan; M. Cutler (J. Cutler, 82); Brown; Thomas; Bevan ©; Griffiths; Copp, Samuel (Rees, 90+2); Parker, Loveridge, Hurlow.
PENRHYNCOCH; Jenkins; Rimmer; Pemberthy; James ©; Foligno (Gittins, 81); Corbisiero; Jones (Morgan, 84); T. Evans; Davies; J. Evans; Pugh-Jones. Subs. not used; Rees; Burrel; Meredith.
SCORER; Penrhyncoch; Corbisiero, 19.
YELLOW CARD; Penrhyncoch; Rimmer.
REFEREE; Daniel Richardson.
Llanelli Town 1 Cwmammam United 0
A second meeting between the sides in just over a week brought a further win for the Reds following their success against the same opponents in the first round of the JD Welsh Cup, but once again they made heavy weather over visitors languishing at the foot of the table with just two wins all season.
The home side have some talented players in their ranks, but many of them are playing far below their potential, resulting in results being ground out rather than achieved in a manner pleasing to the eye, and the latest game was typical of the way the season has so far progressed, with possession being conceded far too easily, and decisions wrongly taken when opportunities present themselves.
A strong wind and frequent rain showers sweeping across the ground did little to raise the overall play by both sides above the mediocre, and the game will not live long in the memory.
Welsh Athletics celebrate success
MORE than 200 people from all four corners of the country headed to the Vale Resort Hotel in Hensol, Vale of Glamorgan on Saturday evening (October 19) to attend the annual Welsh Athletics National Celebration Awards Dinner for 2019.
The evening celebrated all the successes and achievements that happened across the sport of athletics in Wales over the last 12 months with a large number of athletes, coaches, officials, volunteers and club & group representatives in attendance.
There were twenty-eight awards up for grabs with an expert panel deciding on who the worthy winners were for each one. The awards were across a variety of categories…from clubs, groups and volunteers to officials, coaches and athletes.
Altogether, 22 individuals, 5 clubs and 1 group shared the awards on offer and were welcomed to the stage to be recognised for their contributions.
Hosts for the evening was ever-present Rob Cole and joining him on the stage this year was Mica Moore. Sam Gordon, Jeremiah Azu, Steve Perks, Matt Newman, James Williams, Dafydd Trystan and Kelly Southerton were others who spoke throughout the evening.
It was fantastic to receive confirmation a fortnight ago from the new Chair of Welsh Athletics, Steve Perks that Carmarthen & District Harriers Athletics Club had been nominated to receive the Welsh Athletics Junior Off-Track Club of the Year award at this year’s awards dinner in the Vale Resort Hotel.
Present from the athletics club on the evening and joining other deserving winners from across Wales were Jake Morgan (Club Chairman), Cressy Morgan (Club Secretary), Richard Jones (Club Treasurer), Alison Thomas (Officials Secretary), Neil Thomas, David Toogood, Carol Jones and Delyth Brown (Club Endurance Coaches), Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan (Club under 15/17 Endurance Athletes) and Nathan Jones (Club Media Officer).
Cross Country and Road Running successes in 2018 and the start of 2019 from endurance young members contributed to the club winning this award in 2019.
The Welsh Athletics Clubs Cross Country Championships came to Pembrey Country Park in Carmarthenshire for the first year back in February and saw the under-11 boys, under-13 boys, under-15 boys and the Female Master 40 teams come away with gold medals on home turf whilst there were bronze medals for the under-11 girls.
The under-13 boys and under-15 boys were victorious at the 2018 Welsh Athletics Road Relay Championships to match their cross-country championships titles. Back in September, the under-11 boys and under-13 boys came away with comfortably victories at the recent 2019 edition of the Road Relays Championships and have got off a great start to the 2019 winter season in October.
The under-11 boys and under-13 boys also became John H Collins Gwent Cross Country League team champions backed up by second place for under-13 girls and third for the novice girls.
Two of Carmarthen Harriers’ endurance athletes Dafydd Jones and Frank Morgan, both pupils at Ysgol Gyfun Gymraeg Bro Myrddin were there to go up and collect the award on behalf of the whole club.
Another to be recognised locally in West Wales was coach Kevin Evans who continues to coach athletes at the track in Carmarthen and a great supporter of the club. After collecting the Endurance Performance Coach of the Year in 2018, Evans was the recipient of the “International Performance Coach of the Year” this time around.
President the award on stage was local Carmarthenshire athlete and one of Kevin’s training group, Dewi Griffiths who hopes to be back to full fitness soon.
International athletes in Wales voted for their “Athletes’ Athlete of the Year” and announced as the winner was Pembrokeshire Harriers’ Heather Lewis, who enjoyed a great season on the race-walking circuit. Elsewhere, James Tomlinson was the “Junior Track & Field Athlete of the Year.” It was a double success here with his coach Paul Jensen, the “Track & Field Performance Coach of the Year”.
Swansea Harriers picked up both the “Off Track Club of the Year” in the older categories whilst the juniors enjoyed success too and as a result, won the “Junior Track & Field Club of the Year”.
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