Fans of rugby across Ealing had an opportunity to get up close and personal to meet players from Ealing Trailfinders men’s and women’s teams who came to Ealing Broadway on 2 August 2023.
Despite heavy rain, the players from both teams were able to show eager fans their new home and away kits as well as sharing details of the forthcoming 2023/4 season and details of community outreach work the club is doing to get more people involved with sport.
Photographs of the players in their new home kit were taken with Ealing Council’s cabinet member for Healthy Lives Councillor Josh Blacker on the steps of Ealing Town Hall. Afterwards the players changed kit to also show their new away kit.
Following the new kit unveiling, players and staff from the club gathered at Dickens Yard to meet the public and talk about the work the club does professionally as well as for the community through its foundation.
Among those who came to see them was Ealing Central & Acton MP Dr Rupa Huq and Ealing Broadway Councillor Julian Gallant.
Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Dr Huq said she is a firm supporter of the benefits of rugby to people: “Rugby is an amazing sport that teaches all those values of teamwork and togetherness. Ealing Trailfinders is such an amazing community facility that we have on our doorstep.”
With Trailfinders Women’s team debuting in September, Dr Huq said she is looking forward to women’s rugby growing just like women’s football.
Dr Huq added: “And I know that with the Lionesses, there’s a lot of excitement about women’s football. We need to translate that and transfer that into rugby now, which is a similar game, but up to now has been a bit slower having the women’s dimension.”
Councillor Gallant said: “It’s fantastic to see them here, right in the middle of Ealing and making their presence felt, photographs on the steps of the Town Hall and putting up a stand in Dickens Yard, so that everybody knows they are here.
He added that Trailfinders work hard to be inclusive and involve everyone in sport. “They want lots of people to come in and they’ll move everything to get new people in and I warmly recommend new people to come and try rugby, especially women.”
Also attending the afternoon at Dickens Yard was PD Desai, head of community for the Ealing Trailfinders Foundation.
Speaking to EALING.NEWS, Mr Desai explained more about the club and the excitement surrounding the forthcoming season with the debut of Ealing Trailfinders Women’s team.
He said: “We have got a women’s team playing Premiership Women’s Rugby which is the top tier of women’s sport in rugby. And what’s really good about it, is that it’s not just professional players or players that have already been established but actually a lot of girls and women have come via pathway through Henley College, Cardinal Newman or Brunel University.”
With men and women now side by side, Mr Desai said it creates a great working environment especially for the men’s team: “It’s actually given them something inspirational seeing the professional women train on the same night as when they’re training. Little things like that is just incredible.”
Mr Desai added that inclusivity to all is integral at Trailfinders and getting more females involved in sport is one area they are focused on growing across the community. “We’re engaging with the community. And it’s not just about getting girls playing rugby, but it’s about getting girls active. It’s about getting girls into sport, and that is something we’re leading the way at Trailfinders.
“We are making lives better through sport. We’re offering the rugby pathway but we’ve also got girls football which has grown We’ve had a netball team which has grown to 70 members. There’s a revolution going around at Trailfinders. Not just for the rugby but for everything.”
Mr Desai also revealed the importance of working with boys and girls in schools and in getting more girls playing sport outside of their schools.
He said: “A lot of the work we do is in schools. What we’re then trying to do is get them to come over and play cricket or rugby or football or whatever they want. The main thing is keeping them active, keeping them in sport and making sure they have happy memories of sport and whatever they want to do.”
He added: “We can start engaging them through rugby, but the whole point is to make sure they’re active and playing sport because there is there is a massive distinction between boys playing rugby or boys playing sport in general outside of school and girls playing sport. And that gap is still there and we’re trying to hopefully close it.”