We caught up with Ian Hollingworth, Head of Programmes Commercial and Performance at Essex County Council about his own experiences with playing rugby and how he is now coaching a local rugby team in Billericay. A keen rugby player at school, it wasn’t until the game turned professional in 1996 and he started watching Saracens regularly that Ian developed a real passion for the game.
Ian played rugby for both social and fitness reasons, but when his son started playing at the age of 6, he began taking an interest in coaching his son’s team and has never looked back. Ian shared “I strongly believe that as coaches you should always strive to learn, the game is always changing as are coaching methods so what worked many years ago may not work as well today. I have qualified as an RFU Coach Mentor now and am the Club Coaching Coordinator at Billericay RFC, I offer support to other coaches in the hope that they don’t make the same mistakes I made as an inexperienced coach.”
The club have over 300 children playing rugby at Billericay from preschool age onwards, Ian commented “It’s an amazing sight to see so many children active and having fun on a Sunday morning. There is also have a Mixed Touch Rugby group that runs on a Thursday evening as an alternative to contact rugby that is well attended.
“I coached players through the RFU Developing Player Pathway into the Saracens Academy, and some now have contracts with the club and have also represented their country. That makes me so proud to have been a small part of their journey. This year I passed my Level 3 Advanced Coaching Qualification and am part of the coaching team now for the Senior team at the club, another opportunity to challenge myself in a different environment.
Through coaching you can really make a difference to many people’s lives, you are not simply teaching how to play a sport and get fit and healthy, you are creating connections between people, developing character within individuals that hopefully last a lifetime. Just because you cannot play anymore or even if you haven’t played at all shouldn’t prevent you from giving it a go. Its hugely rewarding.
The game is managed locally by the RFU Constituent Body in Essex. I was delighted to be elected to be the Age Grade Lead for the county a few months ago, my hope is in that role I can represent the huge number of clubs and youth players we have in Essex and ensure that we have a growing and active population of young players for years to come.’’
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