Chairman’s Corner #2 | From first kick to first team

In aiming to create and share a vision for Salford Red Devils as we progress through this new era of shared ownership, it’s important we think about the Club not as a sole entity, but as a part of the local and wider community as a whole. 
With this in mind, the vision I am keen to put forward in my role as Chair of the Club, along with our Board of Directors, is one of operational development.  This is rare on the part of a Board of Directors, as they traditionally have no ‘every day’ say in the things that go on within the running of an organisation.  When putting together a vision, mission statement or ethos, however, I think it’s vitally important that the strategy affects the every day.
My own personal role within the Club is to promote public relations and to improve communications, and for this to happen more effectively, I want to set a pathway.  That pathway starts with the youngest members of our community.  In starting with that demographic, we want to create, develop and promote a clear pathway ‘From First Kick to First Team’, whereby the Club and its partners will provide opportunities for local boys and girls to progress both on and off the pitch with the support of Salford Red Devils.
It is not lost on us that not every young person is going to ‘make it’ at elite or professional level at our (or indeed any) professional sporting club, but what we can certainly do is play a part in ensuring that opportunities, support and resource are provided for young people so that everyone can play sport at the highest level possible for their age and ability.
What our vision also wants to promote is the fact that there are opportunities for those who play at the highest levels within our Club to gain a package of support should their journey in professional sport come to an end for any reason.  This is a problem that is highly prevalent given the statistics of progression in elite sport, and one that causes issues for the young people in question who feel that they have nothing else ‘going’ for them in terms of a life outside of professional sport should they be released from their contracts.
Our aim as a professional Rugby League club is to work with local education providers, councils and local businesses to provide a style of apprenticeship pathway, whereby young people can be engaged in work programmes, vocational education and mentoring in order to develop a solid base of skills and experiences that will improve their future opportunities as they enter adulthood – either whilst still within or having come away from sport.
In bidding for the Women’s World Cup Final in 2021, we want and need to reiterate that this vision is on offer for both boys and girls, young men and young women; and such opportunity for girls and women is one that is an obligation we take seriously here in our position as a Super League Club.
As a club, Salford Red Devils currently have no Salford born players on our books, and whilst this is disappointing out on the pitch, it’s equally disappointing up in the stands.  This is because local players will attract their families, their friends and local people who are all keen – and even delighted – to get behind to the ‘local lad’ they’ve seen grow up in their lives and communities.  Our vision looks at players of the future, but we also need to appreciate the effect this will have on fans of the future as well.  Via the First Kick to First Team vision, we will have the largest scope possible to find, nurture and develop homegrown players that our community – as well as our Club – can be rightfully proud of.

Chairman’s Corner with Andrew Rosler | The East Stand

New Year 2018 presented me with a belated Christmas gift – It wasn’t a gift I’d expected or even asked for, but it was one I was keen to make productive use of straight away.
The gift was that of the Directorship of Salford Red Devils Rugby League Club, or rather, the gift of being the voice of the newly established Board of Directors.  
Salford was – and still is – a club that I had held close to my heart as a supporter for as long as I can remember, and a club that I had taken an active involvement with during recent years in having served to support them as a functioning business. As a professional Business Recovery Expert in my ‘day job’, my role as Director of Ideal Corporate Solutions in Bolton was key in ensuring that the Club served itself well as a business during recent years, so that it could continue in a positive fashion as a community-focused entity for the people of Salford and the wider local area.
Over the coming weeks, months and years – in the hope that the good people of Salford will continue to welcome me – my aim is to lead Salford Red Devils in the way that such leadership was intended when handed over to the Board just a few months ago, and that is to work for the benefit of the fans, the community, and the young people we hope to develop or attract as sports people of the future.  
With this in mind, the first project I ask our community to get behind is that of the ‘East Stand Initiative’. This is a concept by where the Club will be gifting thousands of pounds worth of tickets to the Salford Red Devils Foundation, which serves as the independent charitable arm of our Club and is based within our fine stadium here at the AJ Bell. It is hoped that the Foundation will use its strong community links to fill the East Stand on match days, with local people who may otherwise never have purchased a ticket. We need to look at building the concept of ‘fans of the future’, but we also need to look at promoting a trip to the The Salford Stadium not purely as a chance to watch a game of Rugby League (it’s not everybody’s proverbial cup of tea, after all), but rather turn matchdays into more of a carnival style experience, whereby we use the community gathering to celebrate local music, dance and other community arts and sports as part of the ‘festival feel’ of game days.  
The financial idea behind the East Stand Initiative is that the money generated from the sale of tickets will be split equally between the Foundation and a raft of local charities or not-for-profit groups who could benefit from such a cash boost. Money invested into the Foundation will contribute to – and support the development of – young players, which is a post from me for another time. Meanwhile, the money going back out into the community can support anything from a local junior grassroots sports team to a community brass band or senior citizens club.  If there’s a charitable or community-based aim, we want to be a part of it. Put simply, our aim is to ensure that businesses such as ours can actively support good causes in the local area.
In getting this initiative to really kick off, I’m asking all fans of Salford Red Devils to get behind the project and take to social media to promote its worth.  Likewise, get in touch with the Club or Foundation  and tell us what role you see your local Rugby League Club playing in your community. If you’d be interested in claiming community tickets 
Andrew Rosler.

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