Earlier in the year, UCEN Manchester announced a new partnership with the RFL and Rugby League Cares. To kick off the exciting venture, Player Welfare Managers from all 12 Super League clubs and three Championship clubs visited the higher education provider’s City Campus Manchester for a two-day CPD course.
Since the CPD sessions took place, staff at UCEN Manchester have worked closely with their rugby league partners to create and deliver a bespoke six-month Level 3 Counselling qualification.
The fast-track programme, which concludes in August and was studied by Player Welfare Managers from six RFL clubs, including Salford Red Devils, Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors, has given the managers the knowledge and skills needed to progress to a Foundation Degree in Counselling at UCEN Manchester’s School of Counselling and Education, or a Level 4 Counselling skills course.
The programme involved the managers being assessed in their workplaces, while attending a combination of in-person and online classes.
Counselling Course Leader at UCEN Manchester, Mike Sivori, has taught the bespoke qualification and said: “I really enjoyed hearing from the managers about how they’d applied the theory they’d learnt in the classroom to their interactions with the players they support. Whether that’s with injured athletes, colleagues tackling personal issues or players transitioning out of professional sport, we’ve taught the managers a range of skills that can be applied to all the situations they’re likely to encounter at their clubs.
“As a class, we discussed theoretical principals and how they can be used in the real world. These conversations were further enriched because the managers were studying alongside their peers, who deal with similar challenges. Peer-to-peer interaction and debate is such a key part of the learning process - facilitated reflection with peers really takes learning to the next level. The discussions also encouraged best practice and consistency of support across the sport, which is something that the RFL and Rugby League Cares are passionate about and formed part of the conversations we had when writing the syllabus for the course.
“The role of the Player Welfare Manager, or anyone working in a welfare role for that matter, is very broad and typically intrinsic to the success of both the individual and club or organisation. For example, mental wellbeing is at the core of high-performance, but very little training is given in this area.”
Mike concluded: “The course gave the managers the chance to have an immediate positive impact on their players, which was great to see.”
Steve McCormack, Welfare Director at Rugby League Cares, which is an independent charity that plays an important role in the field of player welfare, added: “At Rugby League Cares we take enormous pride in overseeing, implementing, and developing the RFL Welfare Policy.
“A crucial part of working with all stakeholders in our sport, is ensuring the welfare and wellbeing provision is gold standard. Our Player Welfare Managers work exceptionally hard within the clubs to ensure all players and staff are working towards a flourishing life both on and off the field.
“Our relationship with UCEN Manchester has enabled all our Player Welfare Managers to gain the minimum RFL standard qualification - Level 3 Counselling Skills.
Continuous Personal Development is a main priority of Rugby League Cares and I’d like to thank everyone at UCEN Manchester for providing a bespoke, excellent opportunity to upskill and ensure that all our Player Welfare Managers continue to be the very best in sport.