The Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League (LDSL) returns this Saturday (Saturday 23 September) for the biggest-ever season finale festival of 2023.
Around 400 players from 17 Club Foundations will take to the pitch at Belle Vue Stadium, Manchester: a fitting celebration for teams following a record-breaking number of participants in a single season accessing playing opportunities through the LDSL, including a memorable play-on-pitch experience at St James’ Park for Magic Weekend back in July.
Organised by the RFL in association with Community Integrated Care, one of the UK’s biggest social care charities and title sponsor of the Learning Disability Super League, the festival kicks off at 11am this Saturday, welcoming teams from all over the country for a spectacular sporting trip and celebration of the achievements for all involved this past year.
The growth of the sport can be traced back to 2018, when the Rugby Football League and Super League allied with Community Integrated Care to become the first governing body and top flight league with a dedicated Social Care Partner.
Community Integrated Care supports more than 3,000 people who have learning disabilities, autism, mental health concerns, dementia and complex care needs to lead the best life possible.
With a shared vision of using the power of Rugby League to change lives, this unique sport was established to give people who access care and support in their daily lives the chance to play an adapted non-competitive version of the game for the clubs that they love, through the LDSL.
Bringing significant investment, resources, and skills to support the sport’s disability inclusion efforts, this collaboration has provided a range of innovative inclusive volunteering and personal development programmes for participants to access, led by the charity, making a significant difference to people’s lives, both on and off the field.
With free entry and parking on site, fans are encouraged to attend and show their support for the players and coaches.
Ahead of the weekend, Matt Price, who plays in the LDSL for Warrington Wolves, shared what the LDSL means to him.
He said: “From my start in the Learning Disability Super League, I’ve played at Anfield and St James’ Park, volunteered at the Rugby League World Cup and various Super League experiences, I’ve been able to meet my and interview my heroes and even landed my dream role with Community Integrated Care, supporting people with learning disabilities to get more active.
“In what other sport can you do this? I’ve built my confidence and skills, met so many new people and done things I’d have never thought possible for someone like me.
“It’s so much than playing… but I still also can’t wait to play this Saturday and wear my Warrington Wolves shirt with pride!”
Reflecting on another fantastic season, John Hughes, Director of Partnerships and Communities at Community Integrated Care said: “The Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League and our relationship with the RFL, Super League and every club continues to change countless lives, transforming the opportunities that exist for many people with disabilities.
“What we offer is unique in world sport. It’s been another incredible season where people who access care and support have lived their dreams, including running out onto the pitch at St James’ Park, playing in the shirt of the teams they adore.
“These are iconic moments that showcase the power of bringing sport and social care together – and something the whole of Rugby League can be proud to be part of.
“We’d like to thank every participating club and coaching team for their commitment, bringing the excitement, passion, and dedication to deliver the best experiences for all.
“Best of luck to all the players and families this weekend in Manchester – enjoy it!”
Chris Godfrey, Social & Inclusion Manager at the RFL said, “We are really looking forward to this weekend’s event at Belle Vue Arena – it looks set to be a wonderful showcase of the Community Integrated Care Learning Disability Super League.
“This will be the biggest festival of the season and what a way to bring 2023 to a close with over 400 participants taking part under one roof.
“We have had another record-breaking year in LDSL and it is a testament to the hard work all of our community foundations do to inspire more people to take up one of our inclusive variants.
“I’d also like to give a massive thank you to Community Integrated Care – their expertise and support is invaluable and I’m already looking forward to next season!”
Foundations supporting the event are Barrow Raiders; Castleford Tigers; Featherstone Rovers; Hull FC; Hull KR; Leeds Rhinos; Leigh Leopards; Newcastle Thunder; St Helens; Salford Red Devils; Sheffield Eagles; Wakefield Trinity; Warrington Wolves; Widnes Vikings; Wigan Warriors; York RLFC Knights; Bradford Bulls.
Venue and Timings
· Belle Vue Arena, 148 Kirkmanshulme Lane, Manchester, M12 4WB.
· Parking available on site and a concession stand open till 3pm.
If you’d like to find out more about Community Integrated Care or accessing any of their care and support services, please visit www.CommunityIntegratedCare.co.uk.