Summer rugby camps in Port Alberni have grown in popularity in their second year.
The BC Grassroots Rugby Foundation brought its summer camp to Port Alberni for the first time last summer, with the goal of ensuring that youth have opportunities to participate in rugby over the spring and summer months.
Grassroots coach Gavin Purewal, who is also a member of the Port Alberni Black Sheep Rugby Club, says the camps have seen a lot of growth this summer, especially in the 9-13 age group.
He credits some of the sport’s rise in popularity with the after-school program that took place at various elementary schools around the Alberni Valley last winter.
“We picked up a lot of kids from the elementary school rugby, which was a good success,” said Purewal. “We see different kids every day.”
The camps are open to kids aged six to 18, with players separated into four different age groups. Purewal and his fellow coaches, David Symington and Randy Atleo, teach basic rugby skills, with some flag and touch games and obstacle courses to introduce the basics of passing and kicking. But mostly, said Purewal, Grassroots Rugby is about having fun.
“We want to associate rugby and fun together,” he said.
Most camps will take place at the Port Alberni Black Sheep Rugby Club (at the top of Argyle Street), but coaches will also be spending a weekend in Bamfield, teaching rugby to campers and local kids in the area. Purewal said the Bamfield trip was “really rewarding” during the 2021 camps.
The camps run until the end of August, at which point the Port Alberni Black Sheep will restart their Sunday “Minis” rugby program, which runs throughout the fall and spring. Purewal said the eventual goal is to form a youth club team.
There is no obligation for kids to attend each day or each week, said Purewal.
“You can come and go as you please, there’s no commitment,” he explained. “Kids can come try it out and see if they like it before registering.
“We’re happy to have everybody.”
The schedule for each week is listed on the BC Grassroots Rugby-Port Alberni Facebook page, or you can email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.