Sheffield Eagles and Sheffield City Council have joined forces for the first time to boost rugby league in the city.

Up to 2000 young people and more than 40 schools will benefit after the Council agreed a £45,000 grant to the Eagles to support the growth of the club’s activities as part of its transition to a new era for the club at Owlerton Stadium.

The focus will be on increasing participation amongst young people and will include work in over 40 city schools; around 15 schools competitions; a programme of festivals and holiday camps; support to the Junior Eagles and development of new coaches and volunteers.

The Eagles have faced a series of challenges in the last year; not only losing their home ground at Don Valley, but also seeing their successful community work put at risk when the Rugby Football League removed its funding support following a reduction in its grant from Sport England.

Sheffield Eagles has been working closely with the Council over the last 12 months to ensure a smooth transition to Owlerton, which will secure the club’s future.

The successful Rugby League club, who have won back to back Championships in 2012 and 2013, has an excellent track record for delivering quality coaching and education programmes to schools and are now increasing their commitment to the broader social, health and well-being agenda.

They will continue to provide a comprehensive coaching programme in the community and opportunities for young players to develop in the sport of Rugby League, but will also work in partnership with Activity Sheffield, run by the city council, and other key providers to raise the profile of the value of physical activity through such initiatives as “Move More”, a move to get the whole city more active.

Having secured a new home at the Sheffield Greyhound stadium at Owlerton for the new season, which starts on 16 February, it has now been given a timely boost to help keep its community work alive through the support of the Sheffield City Council.

Ian Anniss, Eagles’ Director of Community, Development and Education, said:

“We are extremely grateful to the city council for their support at a time of great need for the club. Six months ago, despite our successes both on and off the pitch, the club was facing a bleak future with no ground and the likelihood that we might have to close down our award winning community team. It could have meant the end for us as a club, but we are very committed to what we do in Sheffield and have risen to the challenge and worked hard to create a new future.”

He added,

“Sheffield City Council has shown great faith in us and were as equally determined to see us survive and thrive. They have helped us in the search for a new ground, offering support and advice and have been willing to invest in our community programme in the short term to help us re-establish a sound financial base for the future. We’re confident that the Council’s support will make a major contribution towards the club’s future and I’m also pleased that many of the city’s young people will have the opportunity to get involved with this great sport for the first time.”

Councillor Isobel Bowler, Sheffield City Council Cabinet member for Culture, Sport and Leisure added:

“Sheffield City Council and the Sheffield Eagles have worked together to ensure a smooth transition from Don Valley. The move to Owlerton is a new chapter for the club in the city. We are pleased to be able to help secure the club’s future in Sheffield and to support the development of junior programmes to give many young people their first opportunity to get involved with Rugby League.

We’re confident that the Council’s support will make a major contribution towards the club’s future and I’m also pleased that many of the city’s young people will have the opportunity to get involved with this great sport for the first time.”

Sheffield Eagles start their League season on Sunday 16 February with an historic re-match with Rochdale Hornets, who were Eagles’ first ever opponents at Owlerton in their inaugural season in 1984.