Since childhood I have always been involved with Rugby. It came as no surprise to anyone that my first son Jak had a rugby ball thrust into his tiny hands as soon as he was able to walk.
In summer 2008 we moved to Preston. Although my wife is from Preston I didn’t really know a great deal of people from the area (other than family) but of those I did know nearly all had one thing in common and that was that they were all associated with Hoppers in one way or another.
Rugby people are rugby people no matter where they are from. An appreciation of rugby is one of those things that seems to transcend geographical boundaries .Rugby people seem to live by the same code no matter what town, city or even country they are from. For that reason, as a family we were naturally drawn to Hoppers. Jak started in 2008 and instantly settled in. I quickly followed and started to help out with the coaching. Neither of us has ever looked back and Jak loves being a Hopper. It has become an important part of his identity.
Being involved with the coaching for the last 3 years at Hoppers has been fantastic. We have developed great relationships with some truly wonderful people. These relationships continue to grow and so do the kids!
Last year was our first year of full contact and it was tough. Some children took to it with vigour and enthusiasm, some however, were not so sure and it has taken a while for them to feel comfortable with the contact. This year has been much more fun and the coaches and children feel much more comfortable. The result of this has seen the level of performance take a massive leap forward.
We have around 30 registered players in the U10’s so sometimes we have to work hard to make sure all the players get game time. We always field mixed ability teams and we never field an “A” or “B” unless it is totally unavoidable. This has meant that the lesser experienced players profit from playing with the more experienced players. The gap in ability has started to shrink dramatically this year. This doesn’t mean the stronger players are not getting any better, quite the contrary. A number of our players are now starting to show some real talent and I look forward to seeing them represent Hoppers at Colts and senior levels. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if a few even made county or beyond.
As a coach and a father the one most important thing I have learnt over the last couple of years is that (at this age) it’s all about fun and developing the players in such away that we ignite a fire and a passion within them for rugby. I like it when the boys win but I love it when I can see them enjoying their rugby and having a fantastic time on the pitch.
Jak and I are now very proud to play our small part in the Hoppers family. We have some unbelievable talent in our age group and if you ever fancy popping down to the club on Sunday why not come and watch the under 10’s. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by the wonderful set of talented players we have. Finally I couldn’t finish without saying something about the extraordinary Moms and Dads who are always there come rain, sleet and snow. The commitment from the parents and fellow coaches ceases to amaze me…just incredible.
“WHO ARE WE?…..PRESTON GRASSHOPPERS!”
Contributed by Justin Kyriakou, parent and coach of the U10’s.