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It’s a game for professionals run by amateurs

Rugby League • 3 min read • Jun 10, 2024 3:37:53 PM • Written by: Peter Astley MBE


In the first of a series of blogs, Community Rugby League Development Officer Peter Astley, explains his role and why the game of Rugby League is so important to him.

‘It’s a game for professionals run by amateurs’ is a phrase that’s often levied against the game, and whilst it is not entirely fair, there is no doubting that our great game all too often struggles to operate at grass roots level and is often seen as the poor relation of sport, even in its Northern heartlands.

Being someone who’s passionate about not just the game but social justice and equity, I have to say it riles me to hear this, especially when we consider how great our game is and the massive benefits it brings to those who not just play, but spectate and follow the game too.

About ten years ago, I decided to stop moaning about our great game, but instead try and put something back, after all, having played for many years and represented the nation at student and amateur level, playing in France, South Africa, New Zealand and Australia, I had certainly got a great deal personally from playing Rugby League.

So I took the first step and became a Trustee of the Warrington Wolves Community Foundation a marvellous organisation and Warrington’s best kept secret. I loved being involved with such an amazing organisation, and after 7 years, the chance came up to Chair it, after its amazing first Chair, Terry O’Niell sadly passed away.

Leading the Foundation during, what was the most difficult period in its history, was a challenge, but fortunately my retirement from my role in the Police meant I was able to help get the Foundation through this period and enable it drive forward  into a period of change and improvement. This was personally very rewarding, but I still had a long-standing itch that needed scratching, namely ‘how could we help support, and facilitate, change and improvement in our grass roots game’.

I still recall the call I had from Foundation General Manager Lee Mitchell, asking me to consider taking on the role of Community Club Development Officer which, despite having to step down as Chair, I jumped at; Id talked about the importance of this work for a long time so at last chance to put my money where my mouth was and the journey began.

Its important that when undertaking such work that we are systematic in our approach, hence I utilised my skills to devise an approach which focusses on listening, learning and gathering information about all elements of our game at Community level. Putting all this information in some kind of order and analysing what it tells us, so that I can then work with the clubs to tackle any identified areas for development, and finally work with the Clubs to implement any development plans.

Although I’m nearly a year in to this role, in reality working only 2 days per week, Ive done about four months work of work. Despite this I feel we have a come a long way even in such a short period of time.

I’ve developed an extensive assessment tool, where clubs can review everything they do from governance to heritage; the Clubs are currently in the middle of completing this assessment and when done this will give us the richest insight into the sport that there has ever been. I’ve also built many communications networks (good communication is the key) and helped our Community Clubs solve many of the short-term problems that afflict them and hold them back.

One thing that’s abundantly clear to me is that our Community Clubs are not run by ‘amateurs’ but truly dedicated volunteers who do so much for our game. With a little help from me and the Foundation we can get our game, the greatest game of all, into the strongest shape it’s ever been!



Reach the World. Giving Made Easy with Impact.

Peter Astley MBE