TEAM manager Simon Hicklin felt one of the big success stories of Plymouth Albion’s 2015/16 season was how the club rebuilt their links in the local community.
Albion offered coaching to every school and club in Plymouth, invited teams to play at Brickfields, worked with special needs youngsters, re-introduced school holiday coaching camps, helped launched an academy for 16-19 year-olds and visited shopping and community centres and even old people’s homes.
Hicklin helped run the club’s community programme, but he has decided to leave the club this month. He is hoping the new owners of Albion continue with all the programmes set up over the past year.
“We’ve worked really hard over the past year rebuilding relationships with the community and the Plymouth Combination,” said Hicklin.
“There was a lot of hard work put in. It doesn’t just happen – it’s got to be organised.
“All we have had is positive comments and feedback this year about what we’ve done. Everyone has said how good it has been to see the players out in the community interacting.”
He added: “It all started off with sponsorship from Babcock for the Albion Links programme, which saw us going out to schools. Babcock also sponsored all the players to get DBS checked.
“We sent letters out to every school in Plymouth offering coaching. We had players in schools at least two or three times a week all season.
“We also had youngsters playing pre-match until the bad weather hit and we also had the Easter School holiday coaching which went down really well. Everyone commented how good it was that they did not have to travel to Exeter for coaching camps.
“The launch of the DACRA academy was massive and the plan was to increase it next year, with double the amount of guys. Everyone has been buzzing about that. It was really moving forward. We had 25 youngsters lined up for the academy next season.
“We had also been working hard on building better relationships with the Plymouth Combination.
“We offered coaching to every Combination club. I also attended a couple of Plymouth Combination meetings trying to get our message across that we really wanted to work with them and we allowed teams to use our pitches like Tamar Saracens and DHSOB. We were just trying to build up relationships again.
“Our players went into clubs and James Penman was still coaching Devonport Services until the last week of the season. The lads this season really got involved in the coaching.
“The community work we did was really positive and everything was moving forward the way we wanted it to enhance the name of the club. I just hope it continues.”