💚💛For All Our Members💚💛
You may have seen we have been approached to write an article for local and regional press....well here is a vast majority. Hope you are as proud as we are 💚💛.
Please find below a summary of all things Portico Vine. Despite the obvious challenges over the last twelve months, we have been as busy as ever ‘Working with the Community, For the Community’.
Portico Vine ARLFC’s aim is to provide as many life enhancing opportunities to our young people, broaden their horizons, improve self confidence and develop community spirit through teamwork and camaraderie in a safe environment. Our volunteers have this aim at the forefront of all they do. I just simply steer the ship of many.
During the close season of 2019, the committee members of Portico Vine sat down and penned out plans to make 2020 the biggest and best year filled with family fun, rugby league related activities. Running parallel would be a huge project looking to improve and extend facilities at Scholes Lane.
Player numbers were at a record high, as were registered volunteers, huge numbers now following us on social media and everybody had bought into the new ethos - work as One Team and together we can reach our One Dream. We had regional festivals, fundraising nights, family fun days, team building adventures and rugby camps pencilled in. Then 2020 arrived. Everything stopped. Or so we thought....
Despite the obvious and everything that’s happened since March 2020, Portico Vine and its members have worked harder and closer together than ever before.
Responding to the pandemic, a Covid-19 officer was appointed, an individual with a wealth of clinical care and expertise. Coupled with the efforts of the committee, a comprehensive Covid-19 health and safety policy was written in just a couple of weeks which put in place clear mitigation. Once circulated within the club, the document was sent to the Rugby Football League who have highlighted it as best practice and shared all around the country. Our small club leading from the front in the cliched - ‘unprecedented’ times.
From there we quickly realised that members of our own community would be affected as furlough kicked in, schools closed, family contact time was reduced and employment became unpredictable. The club made contact with some of the country’s largest manufacturers and producers of soup with our aim being to collect and re-distribute to some of the most needy.
Having received positive responses from Baxter’s, Kraft Heinz, Cross and Blackwell (Princes) and Tesco, the club joined forces with St Helens RLFC Community Development team to distribute the soup. Suitably titled “SOUPER LEAGUE”.
The team delivered over 5,000 cans to the Hope Centre and Teardrops in our area and then further afield to other community centres across the North West. Again this received national acclaim from the governing body and heartfelt thanks from the charities we supported.
To support our own members we made the easy decision to halt mandatory subscription fees as training and matches were now prohibited. However, we still had to honour our rent, bills and other overheads. We were very lucky that our loyal sponsors stuck by our side and were indebted to members who have carried on paying voluntary subscriptions even to this day.
As all front facing fundraising events weren’t permitted, we had to think outside the box. The idea was born to run an online club bingo game based on the National Lotto draw. A simple concept, choose six numbers, pay the same entry fee and whoever matched their six numbers with the lotto draws first, won 50% of the pot. As a bonus we increased the pot to 75% meaning one lucky winner had an early Christmas present. This has provided the club with a financial boost and assisted with ensuring our bills are paid. But it also assists with the sense of belonging and keeps members communicating with each other.
Back to April and we formed a close partnership with the Great British Police Rugby League team. We joined forces to collect Easter Eggs for the children at Alder Hey hospital in Liverpool. Our joint appeal meant hundreds of children were provided with treats to help aid their recovery and support their families.
For those who have been inside our clubhouse, they will know it requires refurbishment and modernisation. We made contact with an organisation called Volunteer It Yourself who specialise in community projects via matched funding through Sport England. The application process was hugely competitive but against all the odds, our clubs bid was accepted. A team of professionals from Volunteer It Yourself would work alongside our volunteers for four weeks, the result of which meant some of our U14/U16 and U18s could be awarded with a formal City and Guilds qualification.
Magnified by the Covid restrictions, this was one of the biggest projects the club had ever undertaken. From the planning phase through to recruitment and operational stages. The club came together like never before.
The result?? A transformation that belongs on DIY SOS! It looks amazing on the pictures but being stood in there now feels like you are in a different place. A new kitchen with new facilities, changing rooms revamped, roofs fixed, new lighting, new paint, new shower fittings, updated communal area and toilet facilities improved. We had planned on a socially distant open day before the latest restrictions kicked in. But we are excited for the time we are able to show our members around.
In 2019 we completed a formal Stage 1 application to transform the clubhouse facilities at Scholes Lane with a significant capital bid. Our vision was to provide a function room and social area our members and the wider community would benefit from. This was part of a huge dream and a rare opportunity.
The pandemic had a significant affect on our new clubhouse application with RLWC2021 Created-By as uncertainty throughout the sport meant a delay to the application process. As the year went on into autumn, we were informed our application had been granted permission to continue which was a massive boost to the project management team. Despite being a team of volunteers juggling family life with work commitments, we have been working on this project day and night for over 15 months.
The exciting news is things are looking really positive and we have been well supported by the RFL, Merseyside Police, Sport England and St Helens Council. We have a pre-planning meeting later this month (January) and hope to appear before the RLWC2021 in February for full board approval.
Our plan is to provide our members with a place they can be proud of whilst opening up further opportunities for community groups within the area. This would leave a legacy for generations to come.
In August, the RFL advertised a new competition to mark their 125 year anniversary, advertising club members to submit a poem to mark the occasion. Despite the thousands of entrants, our members, Isaac, Kieron and Diezel came in the top 10. In fact it was the top 5. It was actually the top three. 1st,2nd and 3rd across the whole country. Simply amazing!!! What talented kids!
In November, as lockdown 2 was brought into England, we made contact with State of Mind who kindly put on a bespoke session to our members via Zoom. Ian Smith was magnificent and offered the club lots of advice and signposting. The club plan to roll out a similar session aimed at our younger members in 2021.
As the year ended, it was apparent that our annual presentation night for the kids wouldn’t happen but we still managed to source them a trophy for their efforts at the start of the season. Many of them joined in with online games and quizzes hosted on our social media platforms. Many of them returned to staged contact training before lockdown once again halted their progress. It’s been tough for adults, let alone our kids who have missed out on so much more. A special mention must go out to the children who have joined in with Fitstream Liverpool who have provided our club with bespoke online, rugby related fitness sessions. Thank you.
A stand out competition we ran was for the kids to design their own Portico training top in support of our truly remarkable NHS hero’s. The winning design created by Jack Rotherham (u16) was then turned into reality and has since become an iconic feature within the club.
As Christmas approached, we once again helped those less fortunate with the collection of Chocolate Oranges, unwanted clothes and non-perishable goods which were re-distributed to charities within our borough. We were also able to recognise some of our key adults with bespoke awards given virtually.
Finally we saw the back of 2020 but we must look at the positives too. 2021 hasn’t started much better but we continue to support each other and that must always be the case. We are a small club but we work “With the Community, For the Community”.
We are actively recruiting both players (males and females) and coaches during the lockdown so we can be best placed when a return to play is possible. We plan to have age groups from U7 through to U18 and will be progressing plans to form an adults tag team later in the year. If you would like to find out more, please get in touch via our Facebook page or email address - Contactus@porticoarlfc.com.
Portico Vine are blessed with the most selfless, caring, compassionate and inspirational people I have ever had the pleasure to meet.
Everything that goes on behind the scenes is to benefit our children on it. Every child deserves a chance - irrespective of ability, because we are just One Team striving for One Dream.
British Police Rugby League Team Saints Community Development Foundation BBC One BBC North West Liverpool Echo News ITV News Sky Sports Rugby League Week International Rugby League Stone Tyres St Helens St Helens Star Liverpool FC - Liverpool Echo rugbyleaguecoach NRL - National Rugby League Rugby Football League Merseyside Police Women's Rugby League Everything Rugby League Teardrops Hope Centre Baxters UK Kraft Heinz PR Tesco Crosse & Blackwell Rugby League Cares Rugby League World Cup 2021 Rugby League World Cup 2021 - RLWC.com