• Blog

  • Bridging cultural differences through sport: Visiting UK coaches introduce rugby and cricket to Westchester grade schoolers

    Posted on
    Categories afterschool programs, inclusive sports, special needs sportsTags

    Backyard Sports Cares “guest counselors”, Rhodrey Dafydd and Tom Finnigan of the United Kingdom, recently spent the month of May participating in our afterschool and special needs programs.  They led early morning and recess rugby and cricket programs to elementary school students in White Plains and New Rochelle. They also assisted in a physical education (PE) program for residents of the Youth Shelter Program of Westchester.  Here is a reflection of their experience.

    By Rhodrey Dafydd

    When Danny Bernstein talked about having us work for BYSC nine months ago, Tom Finnigan and I were interested in the opportunity from the moment he mentioned the idea. After further conversations during the holiday season in Edinburgh, we rang in the new year and got the ball rolling on this adventure. As winter turned to spring, and spring very quickly turned to summer, our bags were packed and it was time to head to the USA. We landed on Sunday evening and after filling our bellies with a typical XXL American burger, we found ourselves pumping up Rugby balls in the living room ready to start work at 7am the next morning.

    Coaching rugby, a virtually unknown sport amongst children in the US, was a challenge we were ready for. The following morning, adorned in our new Backyard Sports staff shirts, we set out to introduce rugby to approximately 120 children in Church Street School, White Plains. The first session went by in an instant, and with help from Coach Danny we achieved what we set out to do. We had kids running around passing a Rugby ball with beaming smiles on their face and having fun. Over the next three weeks we travelled all over the Westchester area working in many schools in White Plains, Mt. Vernon and New Rochelle.

    Having the opportunity to work for BYSC and coach rugby, a sport that many Americans are unaware of, was a great experience that Tom and I will cherish for a very long time. No matter your age, cultural ethnicity, income level or language, sports breaks down barriers and serves as an excellent tool to build relationships among diverse peer groups.