By Andy Martin, Head of Rugby
Culture is key in any sporting pathway and our Lions Rugby teams are setting an example of the wider impact a sport can have. The suspension of competition has provided the space to focus on the individual player, as part of our larger new strategic direction in coaching and player development.
Despite the challenges of the past year, the new rugby pathway at Tanglin is developmentally focused and encompasses opportunity at every age group, as well as the provision for our athletes to play year round. Emphasis has been placed on creating a culture in which players can confidently make decisions and self-organise within a game context, while also taking responsibility to improve each other.
The restrictions requiring small group sizes have meant players are spending more time in possession and having more opportunity to practice decision-making. Significant improvements have been seen across all age groups and this has been a real silver lining of this past year. Moving away from planning training programmes that focus on competition is a significant part of the new, wider strategic direction in sport at Tanglin that places player needs and development firmly at its centre.
When competition does return, we will be looking to develop new initiatives that complement our strategic focus on developing the whole player, and resisting pressure for early specification. Coupled with the sport-for-all approach and increased opportunity for participation, the return of competition will be an extra component that complements the programme.
This week we have been reviewing and planning for next year. This has been an interesting conversation in a year with no competition or results to hang our hats on. How do we know our players have improved and how do we plan for further improvement? The conversations with coaches have focused on observations of how players are moving and affecting the games tactically through their decision making. The team-wide improvements that coaches are witnessing is tangible and it will be exciting to see how this transfers back into competition when it returns.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week, and I am immensely proud of the role our Lions rugby teams are playing in promoting its vital message. I believe fervently that sport and activity play a huge part in providing balance in our lives. One's mental health cannot be viewed as separate from one's physical state. They are inextricably linked, as I tell our players, "health is health!"
The Tanglin Lions rugby team is proud to be associated with the charity Looseheadz, which aims to have a member of every rugby club in the UK trained in mental health first aid. The conversations I have been having with them align perfectly with the culture Tanglin rugby is developing. Please take a moment to watch the brief two-minute film below about the culture of our team, and the central role of sport in mental and emotional wellbeing. #Tacklethestigma