From education to employment

Professional rugby stars to help coach local talent

Birkenshaw Blue Dogs Rugby League Club

A West Yorkshire sports club is marking its success over the last decade with the addition of two new celebrity ambassadors who have pledged to bring ‘super league tactics’ to local rugby.

Volunteers at the Birkenshaw Blue Dogs Rugby League Club, which plays out of the site run East Bierley Community Sports Association in East Bierley, have been joined by professional ruby players Liam Kirk of Oldham RLFC and challenge cup-winning Leeds Rhinos’ Chev Walker who will bring their experience from more than 300 career appearances in top-flight rugby to the teams.

The club’s junior section reformed in 2009 and has seen around 200 children through its doors in the last decade. The club now delivers around 400 hours of exercise to members each week, playing an instrumental role in the community’s health and wellbeing.

Paul Vary, public relations officer for Birkenshaw Blue Dogs, explains:

“The club has gone from strength to strength over the last few years and we plan to build on that progress with the addition of our new superstar ambassadors.

“Liam and Chev will bring a professional insight to the club’s efforts to generate future Super League stars and also benefit the community, game players and volunteers. It’s the beginning of an exciting new era for the Birkenshaw Blue Dogs.

Chev is head of player production and assistant coach at Leeds Rhinos where he nurtures talent of secondary school age children and once trained fellow ambassador, Liam Kirk.

“We’ve seen a lot of young, gifted players through our doors over the years and by bringing Liam and Chev on board means we can continue our ambition to increase the profile of the club, encourage more youngsters to get involved and grow skill levels. They’ll also support efforts currently underway to further invest in the facilities at East Bierley which will help the club generate fresh talent coming into Rugby League at all levels.”

Birkenshaw Blue Dogs is a founding member of the community charity, East Bierley Community Sports Association, which hosts the team’s home matches and training sessions. It received charity status in 2016 and helped fund the construction of new changing rooms for the club’s use.  

Super League veteran, Chev, added:

“Liam and I are excited to be involved with the youngsters at Birkenshaw Blue Dogs. It’s an exciting club with great ambition and some impressive talent. Seven players have already been awarded scholarships with clubs including the Bradford Bulls and they won their first major trophy earlier this year in the Under 14s Yorkshire Supplementary Cup.

“We’ll be supporting the club in any way we can to ensure it continues to provide a great source of exercise, sportsmanship and community spirit. We will also be introducing some of the physical and mental tactics we use in training in the Super League and instilling a professional and positive attitude into the players, whether they just want to keep active or they want to pursue a career in the sporting arena.” 

Birkenshaw Blue Dogs has 24 qualified coaches and 50 match day volunteers who oversee teams ranging from the under 6s to under 17s and open age / masters. It started with just six members in 2009 and now has around 200 members who attend the club on a regular basis.

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