THE WINNINGTON PARK COLUMN - By Paul Rees, mini and junior section chairman

THE Mini and Junior section at Winnington Park is a thriving and positive environment for both young girls and boys.

I am extremely proud to be a part of and represent this section of the club.

From u6s to u16s – teams are mixed boys and girls until u12s – and u13s to u18s girls, the numbers improve and increase year on year.

On average there are 25 players per age group and as a result of the membership structure we have around 450 family memberships.

The MJ section is the most important part of the club, not only for the future of the club but to provide a safe, fun and enjoyable environment for local young people from any social background.

As a result of the large income generated from the memberships, this money is recycled back into the club.

The main and a fantastic example of this investment is the upgraded floodlights, which ensure MJ age groups from u9s are able to complete midweek training.

We are also planning to host junior games on a Friday night going forward.

What I am always impressed with is the army of volunteers we have. It is a well-oiled machine to accommodate hundreds of players and parents on a Sunday morning.

We have many qualified first-aiders, qualified referees, team administrators, and not only current and ex-players who have become qualified coaches but we have many coaches that have not played the game before, who are learning this amazing game through the journey they have undertaken with their own children.

We also promote and develop our junior/colts players to take the coaching pathway. This not only enhances and provides endless self-development opportunities, but the junior players respond very well to being coached by a player of the same generation.

From the junior sections we have representatives for the boys in the Sale DPP, and currently 11 Cheshire representatives from both the boys and girls sections, which is a brilliant achievement.

There is also close working relationships with our local state and private schools whereby coaching is provided by the club to enhance and promote rugby. And to ensure school fixtures take place referees are provided for these fixtures.

The investment given for young people is the most important part of this, the legacy from the MJ section is not only providing a platform to develop and for each player to maximise their potential but to underpin the five rugby core values – teamwork, respect, integrity, enjoyment and discipline.