Coaching boost for Beckenham rugby kids

News Shopper: Linval Antonio (far right) with the Old Dunstonians U9s. SPORTSBEAT. Linval Antonio (far right) with the Old Dunstonians U9s. SPORTSBEAT.

By Pippa Field

YOUNGSTERS at Old Dunstonian Rugby Club in Beckenham can look forward to receiving increased coaching thanks to a financial boost awarded to their mini’s head coach Linval Antonio.

Antonio is one of just 50 coaches from across the UK to have been awarded a Gillette Great Starts Grant, which aims to support and celebrate those who inspire the next generation at every level.

Already a level two coach himself, Antonio is looking to carry out his level three badges but crucially he wants to get other volunteers on the ladder.

A regular first-team player, the 32-year-old had a hand in setting up the minis section last season but with numbers already rising to over 40, there is a need for more coaches to expand.

And now with £250 awarded to Antonio through the Gillette Great Starts Grant scheme, he intends to split the money to help the future of the club.

“At the moment we only have two qualified coaches for 40 kids, we need more so that we are able to increase the number of young players we coach,” said Antonio.

“We have got quite a few parents who are volunteers who help out but by offering them the chance to do the qualification it acts as another incentive.

“I have got my level two already but the goal is to get as many people as possible with their level one.

“We hope to introduce more age groups next year but it’s about getting the support there and fortunately with the money we can take steps towards that.

“Part of the reason for setting the team up was I am getting older, like a few other players, and I wanted to train up players to take over when I retire.

“It’s about securing the future of the club and it seems to be working because we already have more club members although we always welcome more.”

Now in its second year of partnership with Sports Coach UK, the Great Starts programme aims to continue nurturing future ambition through qualified coaches in the wake of London 2012.

And, after seeing the impact that introducing a minis section to the club has had, Antonio was grateful for having had the chance, via the grant, to improve the coaching for his young stars.

“The grant has been a big help, education is so important these days, volunteers all need their CRB checks and it can get quite expensive,” he added.

“But it is so important to educate the children and get them involved when they are young.

“It has helped us out a lot.”

The 2013 Gillette ‘Great Starts’ campaign celebrates community coaches and inspires the next generation of coaches by providing them with grants to fund their next level qualifications.

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