Up for the challenge
Featherstone Rovers fan Gary Hope has followed the Rugby League team all his life and rarely misses a match.
However, the 29-year old never thought he would be able to follow in his heroes’ footsteps and play the sport he loves.
Gary has learning and co-ordination difficulties which can make joining in with sport a bit more challenging.
So when he heard about Play Touch Rugby League, an inclusive new programme aimed at getting people involved in the game, the team reassured him that he would be able to play alongside everyone else and should give it a try.
Gary immediately signed up, in fact so much so, within an hour of the team speaking with him he had recruited a whole team of people to play in the weekly sessions held at Featherstone Rovers.
Gary instantly fell in love with playing the sport he had always passionately watched and since his first session hasn’t missed a single week!
After a few weeks honing his skills Gary scored his first ever try and as a surprise Dane Weatherill, the Play Touch Rugby League coach managed to get the entire Featherstone’s first team squad to sign the ball and what’s more, arranged for Featherstone’s new coach Andy Hay to present the ball personally to Gary.
Gary was obviously over the moon with his surprise: “I never thought I would score a try, it was so good when I did and I felt happy when I got presented with the ball it made me smile a lot. I have made lots of friends at Touch Rugby League and at Rovers and I feel safe there, people look after me like my family does.”
Gary’s mum, Tracy, was also delighted: “Gary has learning and co-ordination difficulties but has loved playing Touch Rugby League every Monday, so when he scored his first try he was delighted.
“What put the icing on the cake was the signed ball presented to him by Andy Hay! It made Gary’s rugby Sunday absolutely perfect,” said Tracy.
The story has even attracted attention from the Featherstone’s CEO who began to tweet about Gary!
For more information on Touch Rugby League visit www.playtouchrugbyleague.co.uk