Super League stars help Knights launch EXCEL player pathway programme

Published: 12 July, 2017 - 7:51 pm

By Oli Breslin

York City Knights Foundation launched their Excel Player Development Programme on the 10th July – with the help of some familiar faces.

Former Knights and current Castleford Tigers winger Greg Minikin was in attendance, as was club legend Mick Ramsden, current Knights star and Captain Ed Smith and former Knights scholar and now teammate of Minikin, Alex Foster, all welcomed over 100 players from Under 12s through to Under 14s to the opening session in the Excel Programme.

The Excel Programme is an open access programme where players join the Knights for 6 weeks to support participants in reaching and maximising their potential. The programme will not focus only on the development of rugby skills, but also increasing their awareness and knowledge using a series of lifestyle talks on nutrition, post-exercise recovery, strength and conditioning as well as their mental skills.

This approach to developing the whole player is based on both academic research and consultation with high level coaches, the evidence is clear that the vast majority of top level players may not always possess the most natural ability or skills, but are those who consistently demonstrate other personal attributes such as a willingness to learn and adapt, have resilience when faced with challenges, lead healthy balanced lifestyles and who are dedicated to reaching their goals.

The first block of the Excel programme which runs until the 14th August is targeted at Under 12, Under 13 and Under 14 age categories and is being held at the York St John University Sports Park on Haxby Road, with older age groups being targeted over coming month. Over 100 boys registered on the opening night.

Adam Prentis, York City Knights Foundation Delivery Manager said “It is fantastic to see so many young players who have travelled from all across the area to develop themselves as players and to register over 100 players on our first block is outstanding. I would like to thank all the coaches and volunteers, York St John University, SBL Machinery, Digicab media and the kind individuals who have made donations – without their support we would not be able to run this programme.

Former Knights star Minikin, who came through the York Scholarship scheme, said: “For me the Excel programme is really important, it’s really good to see everyone getting involved. It’s a pathway into higher rugby. If it wasn’t for York City Knights and the coaches here I wouldn’t be playing Super League now, I can’t thank the club enough.”

Alex Foster, who also came through the old Scholarship scheme was enthusiastic about the Excel programme: “There’s been a lot of kids here, participation levels look massive,” he said. “They have been enjoying themselves doing the drills and watching the slideshows that Adam has been putting on to show the ethos of the York City Knights. I’m sure there are a few lads here that will go on to big things and be playing Super League one day,” he said

Knights Chairman Jon Flatman said: “I would like to thank the staff, volunteers, players and parents for making the launch such a success.

“Delivering a player pathway for local players is a key objective for the club and tonight we have made great strides towards achieving this aim.

“This programme will go from strength to strength and my thanks also go out to those individuals and organisations who have contributed financially in order to enable all participants to attend for free and continue to do so.

“Our sport is in a good place right now in York and North Yorkshire and with the continued support of community clubs, players and parents, we will achieve our aims and celebrate the successes of all component parts,” he added.

If anyone would like more information on the programme or would like more information on how to sponsor the programme please contact Adam Prentis on