Watton Rugby Club grant boost

Watton Rugby Club have been successful with an application for a £4,000 grant from the NatWest RugbyForce to make improvements in their facilities at the town's sports centre.

The club were among a handful in the region to be offered a £500 grant as part of the nationwide NatWest RugbyForce scheme – which helps selected clubs from all over the country stage 'work ins' this weekeend.

The successful applicants were then encouraged to petition for an additional £3,500 available to just 35 clubs able to give reasons why they deserved the extra.

'We nade the point that we are only a tiny club compared to the others in the county,' said vice chairman Mike Bayley. 'We have no autonomy having only ever played out of the school or the sports centre.'

The scheme which earned Watton their extra cash is to convert a room at the sports centre into their own designated clubhouse. They will also be improving the changing rooms.

Watton's club development officer Louisa Bayley, who put together Watton's case for extra funding, said: 'We have worked hard to recruit volunteers, strike deals with various businesses and make plans to upgrade changing facilities and develop a club room within the sports centre.

'The work will take place across the weekend, encouraged with our 'free beer when you volunteer recruitment drive.'

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She added: 'We have a thriving minis and youth section and a senior team. We also field an occasional second senior team.

'The ethos of maintaining community sports and promoting rugby across the generations is very important to us and we believe it is important to ensure we continue to recruit players and volunteers so our club will continue to thrive. The grant will mean we can make a difference and develop an identity.'

Just over a year ago Mike and Louisa travelled to Rugby HQ at Twickenham with other club officials when Watton were given the prestigious RFU Club Accreditation award – a 'whole club seal of approval' given in recognition of their efforts to develop community rugby.

Watton currently have two teams playing in the Norfolk Merit Leagues and are already looking forward to a return to the Eastern Counties set-up.

'We have a such a good group of juniors coming that if you give it five years we'll be monster,' declared Mike Bayley. 'Swaffham were not much different to us just a few years ago and they've just one back to back Norfolk Junior Cups.'

Watton are hoping for around 25 volunteers to spend the weekend transforming their club.

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