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Club Focus - Percy Park Pirates

"We’re excited for what 2024 will bring,” Richard Lilley of Percy Park Pirates tells James Warrener.

He adds that the club, who operate out of North Tyneside "are looking forward to helping as many people in the area who want to play touch, to do so."

The Pirates are working hard at to encourage players of all ages, with a lot of newer faces participating at both social and competitive levels.

"I think Touch is getting out there and it is getting to be more well known, Pirates want to play their part in that," says Richard.

"We have been running junior sessions across the summer for two years now with consistent numbers of around 25 per week joining a learn and play sessions. The kids and parents love it. And with many of them keen to play competitively, we're hoping other clubs in the area will start junior teams too.”

The Pirates see junior development as a key part of the game's overall growth.

"With the University tournaments and additional school competitions, more people will be exposed to the game" Richard goes on to say.

"Touch should be a lot more popular than it already is, but it's a slow build and with the right targeted campaigns from juniors upwards, Touch will grow and get more players."

2023 has been a good year for the Pirates with 11 playing for the North East Raiders and five playing in the Euros.

I went on to ask Richard for his thoughts on how the game should be played.

"Playing Touch should be fun" he replied. "We love all of our players to play all positions. If it's fun it gets people to play more. We want to be seen as inclusive and in giving everybody a chance to play.”

In terms of goals for 2024: “It’s the 20th anniversary of the club so we’ll do something special for that. We’re also hoping to get a team to all of the mixed NTS events.

"Last year we did the last event with limited players and the shortfall made up from other clubs in the region. One of the great things about Touch is that it's not tribal and exclusive. Across the North East teams, we can share players if teams are struggling for numbers. I think it's unique to our game and a nice aspect of the Touch community.”

We wrap up by talking about the unsung heroes of Percy Park Pirates with Richard offering special mention to club coaches Erica, Lesley, Anthony, Jamal and Gerard.

We are England Touch

Some space. A ball. Your mates. A game
Your team. A competition. Maybe a trophy or two
Work hard. Develop skills. Get selected. Represent your nation
Volunteer time. Pick up a whistle. Make a difference
This is England Touch. Pick up a ball and play!