Coventry Saracens RFC

Completed: 2023
Location: Coventry
Region: West Midlands
Other local partners: Barclays Community Football Fund, Dulux, Sport England, Think Active

About the project

Despite previously being a traditional grassroots rugby club, Coventry Saracens have now run thriving boys football teams since 2010. After the success of the 2023 Women’s World Cup, the granddaughters of club Football Coach Lee Thomas asked him “why don’t you have a girls team Grandad?” Three weeks later, they held their first girls session, with 16 young girls turning up to the first session. Pretty quickly, local sponsorship has helped to purchase kit and equipment, and to help keep the under 6 and 7s girls sessions free for all, training on Saturdays and Sundays, as well as providing food for the girls to eat together afterwards and build friendships.

The project:

We transformed their male-dominated changing rooms to make them fit-for-purpose and more welcoming for girls and neurodivergent young people. We built covered outdoor seating areas for spectators and young people with special needs like autism to take some time out when they need it. We then worked with local artist dynamickart to create an inspiring piece of artwork across the front of the club to celebrate the ‘friendship and respect’ ethos of the club and for all those wishing to play football.

Match-funded by Barclays Community Football Fund, Sport England and Think Active, all to help more local young people have access to football and to become more active, particularly those from underrepresented groups, including girls and those with disabilities and special educational needs.

The young people: 

25 young people, those involved in or at risk of crime supported by West Midlands Police, and those with disabilities or special educational needs from Hereward College

The impact:

  • Thriving young girls football teams, now with spaces more welcoming for them and for those with hidden disabilities
  • Since the VIY project, and other grants enabling the team to fit disabled facilities, a pan-disability team has now started at the club
  • Their ambition is to now start girls rugby too
  • One young person, on a reduced school timetable due to behaviour, picked up three days paid work as a labourer with a family member, directly off the back of his positive, hands-on experience with VIY and gaining his Entry Level 3 City & Guilds accreditation
  • Another young person has since applied to study carpentry at Rugby College from next year
  • West Midlands Police organised a presentation evening to award the young people their framed City & Guilds accreditations to those supported by the police, along with the gift of a measuring tape each, celebrating their positive achievement in front of their families

Accreditations gained: 16 Entry Level 3 City & Guilds accreditations gained in Painting & Decorating and Carpentry

Hear us featured on BBC Radio Coventry & Warwickshire

We were a last minute application and never thought we would be considered but to our great surprise, we were, and you very kindly accepted our proposal. From all the Saracens volunteers I can say it was a absolute pleasure working with you all and seeing the students succeed such as Harry grow in confidence. Our biggest thanks to your organisation, your mentors, the police - with the biggest thanks to the students that have helped complete the works. Paul Walsh, Chair, Coventry Saracens RFC
This project is an excellent way to get pupils out of the classroom and into an environment where they can flourish and gain a hands-on, practical qualification. An excellent way for us to engage with the community and help make a difference. Sherrie Kimberley, Coventry Police Partnerships Inspector