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Volunteering in this sport is incredible

Rugby League • 3 min read • Jun 5, 2024 1:16:07 PM • Written by: Helen Hall


Hi my name is Helen Hall, I’d lived in Warrington for over 30 years, and whilst I didn’t mind rugby league, I’d never actively seek it out. So meeting The Warrington Wolves Community Foundation in September 2019, a sporting charity situated just four miles from my home was a bit of a revelation as I’d never even heard of them until then.


My introduction was to Physical Disability Rugby League (PDRL); this ensures continued opportunity for people born with disabilities or those with a life-changing prognosis or accidents to play rugby league. And we’re not just talking tag rugby here - although some players play tag because of their disability such as those with brain injuries - most of these guys play full contact rugby. I went to watch my first training session in Warrington one rainy October night in 2019, and I was hooked.


Warrington Wolves PDRL team has players with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy, brain injuries, Parkinson’s, players missing limbs whether through birth or through injury, to name but a few. To watch them train in contact rugby just like they should be able to, I’ll be honest, it was a bit of a shock at first. “Are they allowed to do that?” I thought as a man with cerebral palsy was sent flying by a man with a prosthetic leg. But when I looked closer, I saw the joy in their eyes at having been made the tackle; the team spirit, the banter and bond these men had and I realised that PDRL and Warrington Wolves Foundation gave them this. I started to call them “the best kept secret in Warrington” and I wanted to be a part of it. 


I wanted to make time for this. Life and prejudice had often told these players they couldn’t play the sport they loved, but PDRL had given them this back. I learned that they use the power of sport and of the Warrington Wolves badge to deliver programmes in the hardest-to-reach sectors of our community. Those isolated through disability, through poor mental health, through illness or age, those discriminated against daily and they turn that around to build them a team and a routine and a sense of belonging. I started to go to the weekly training sessions, I started to make friends with the players, I started to feel like I belonged, especially once I did my first aid and my mental health first aid training meaning I was able to actually help out on match days. My physical and mental health started to improve too. Through 2020 Covid quizzes and WhatsApp challenges, to taking tentative steps in 2021 out of lockdown, the team bond grew closer and as we entered into the first competitive season after covid, our PDRL boys were an unstoppable force. I can honestly say winning the Grand Final in September 2021 was life-changing for the team but also for me too - these men had become my brothers. All 34 of them!

Stubborn as hell, rarely willing to be removed from the pitch for first aid, they treat me as one of their own and I’ve fallen into a ‘team mum’ role completely by accident. Through PDRL, I’ve saved lives, I mean, literally saved lives. That’s the beauty of volunteering and I don’t think you know you need it until you find it, or it finds you. Grand Final September 2021 was the first time I’d even been on a team coach, first time I felt like I was a part of something really special, the first time I realised that the very small part I play as a volunteer first aider/team welfare enables The Warrington Wolves Foundation to do what they do.


They’re still one of the best kept secrets in Warrington but I’d love to change that. Volunteering in this sport is incredible and I feel incredibly lucky to be a part of it. 


Reach the World. Giving Made Easy with Impact.

Helen Hall