Tigers to deliver pioneering program
Castleford Tigers have been selected by the Rugby Football League (RFL) to offer the Advanced Apprentice in Sporting Excellence (AASE) qualification to its players.
Starting in September, the pioneering program will involve a number of the club's recent academy recruits. It is set to be delivered in conjunction with the Tigers' education partners, Wakefield College and Pontefract New College.
The AASE qualification runs for two years and is made up of three components; a technical certificate (e.g. A Levels or vocational awards), key skills awards (e.g. Maths and English) and an NVQ Level 3 in Achieving Excellence in Sports Performance.
Player performance manager Richard Tunningley will oversee the AASE program at the Tigers and explained the club's involvement:
"AASE is a massive step forward for the club. The NVQ elements of the AASE programme will be delivered at The Jungle and will allow the players to gain an educational qualification from their training in the competencies and skills required to become a professional at Engage Super League standards.
These requirements include the technical, tactical, physical and psychological aspects of rugby league as well as the equally important wider employment aspects such as health & safety, lifestyle, career & finance management and communication & media.
"AASE will allow us to increase the contact time with our players during the day from the current weekly average of around 4.5 hours to 16 hours per week. This time will be fitted in and around their studies will increase the support and resource provided by the club to the players.
"The benefits from this mix of training and teaching along with a mentoring programme provided by our staff will help us consistently develop more talented highly skilled junior players that are are well placed to concentrate on full time Rugby at eighteen with a set of full recognizable qualifications."
Head of youth development Steve Gill is delighted with this news:
"There has been a lot of time and effort put into being awarded the AASE programme and I would like to thank Chris Chapman (National Player Development Manager, RFL) for his guidance throughout.
"I'd also like to thank Pontefract New College and Wakefield College who have enabled us to achieve this status. There were only forty eight places available and we managed to secure eight of those for our youngsters.
"This really is a massive boost for the youth development department and having the AASE programme at the club puts us in a very strong position when we look to sign the very best of next year's under 16s players."
Chief executive Richard Wright believes this development will work in favour for the club when it is considered next year for a Super League licence from 2012 onwards:
"The financial commitment to youth development has increased every single year since 2004 and this news speaks volumes of our youth development department and the pathway we now have in place in terms of developing our own Super League players.
"The development of young players is a key component of the RFL's licensing process and the AASE program will only make our ability to do this stronger."