12:00 PM March 13, 2022
A new financial grant to enable young people of all backgrounds play rugby has been named after a former club president who had a passion for grassroots sport.
Ipswich YM Rugby Club, in Rushmere St Andrew, launched the Brian Williams Foundation Hardship Grant on Saturday, with the aim of removing any financial barriers that may prevent young people from joining the sport.
“We want to support disadvantaged youngsters, so if they want to play the sport, they can, no matter what their ability or background,” explained Katherine Stanes, Chair of the Youth and Juniors Section.
The club particularly wants to encourage state-educated students to take part as they are less likely to have played rugby at school.
“At the YM, we welcome any child. It doesn’t matter whether rugby is on the curriculum at your school, we just want good sportsmen and women,” said Katherine.
She hopes that this grant will encourage friendships between young people of all walks of life.
The grant is named after a former president of the club, Brian Williams, who died in 2016. His passion for local grassroots rugby for all has become enshrined in the club’s core values, and they are dedicating the grant to his memory.
Brian’s widow, Wendy Williams, was in attendance on Saturday, and unveiled the brand new ‘Legends Bar.’
Rugby, she said, was Brian’s “lifeline.”
“Brian did a lot in this area, and outside it, too, as he was on the committee of the RFU [Rugby Football Union]†
“When he first went to the YM, they were in a little wooden hut. Later on, that building was virtually condemned, and the YM built a big building. Brian and the men who worked for him would go down and decorate it.”
Brian was involved in all aspects of the club, Wendy said, from painting lines to cutting the grass.
“He won the Lifetime Achievement Award from Suffolk County Council in 2012, and the Active Waveney Lifetime Achievement Award in the same year. He traveled the world with rugby.”
Wendy is pleased that this new grant will open up rugby to a whole new swathe of young people.
She said: “Rugby is a family. Everybody gets to know each other, and there are wonderful friendships formed. You can always fit in somewhere and find a friend. It’s a sport like no other.”