A popular rugby play programme for young children is coming to Gillingham.
Rugbytots is described as a fun-packed programme where rugby practice is intertwined with aiding crucial motor skills and having fun.
‘Make it more fun’ is the mantra of Rugbytots, which was started 12 years ago by rugby-loving father Max Webb, who saw the opportunity to provide something more professional than merely passing a ball around with his son.
It is his most important role, as a father to Jack, three, and two-year-old Harry, that has helped local franchisee Gareth Turnbull understand the specialist teaching needed to gain the concentration and trust of very young children.
A graduate in sports and business, Gareth explains: ‘I am a parent of two boys and come from a rugby family. I was also born in an era when kids were always outside climbing trees and riding bikes, and this experience has driven me to bring the benefits of Rugbytots to children across the county.’
He explained: ‘I have always been blown away by the confidence and great attitude that young rugby players have, and how these positive skills impact their lives and opportunities far beyond the game.’
The classes accommodate three age groups with parents actively encouraged to participate, especially in the toddler class. Children should be prepared to run across the jungle, wade through quicksand or sprint through Rugbytots Valley avoiding all the smoking boulders!
‘The kids love learning new skills and sharing that experience with their parents – it is a lovely thing for parents to do with their children,’ Gareth says.
‘We use lots of analogies, like to get the two year olds to open their hands in the right position, we say you need to “clap your hands and open your book” and then “cuddle it like a teddy bear” to encourage them to hold the ball tight,’ he says.
Future plans are to introduce more locations across the county, and following the considerable rise in the popularity of girls rugby, Gareth is keen to make sure that continues through a strong presence of girls at all the classes.
Rugbytots Gillingham has already been commended by Welsh rugby legend, Sir Gareth Edwards who explains that “learning the basics and coordination as well as playing as a team are vitally important at that young age. I wish Gareth every success.”