Leeds Rhinos and Featherstone Rovers join the Offload family

Rugby League Cares is delighted to announce the expansion of its acclaimed men’s mental wellbeing programme, Offload at two more professional clubs, Featherstone Rovers and Leeds Rhinos.

Leeds and Featherstone join St Helens, Salford, Warrington and Widnes as part of the growing Offload family and will begin delivery within the next two weeks.

Offload utilises the experiences of professional Rugby League players in coping with pressure and challenging situations to help men manage their own mental health.

The programme has already helped more than 2,000 men tackle issues around mental wellbeing since its launch in the North West three years ago.

RL Cares has secured funding from the Leeds Community Foundation to enable delivery in partnership with the Leeds Rhinos Foundation while funding from the Coalfields Regeneration Fund is enabling the Featherstone Rovers Foundation to deliver Offload fixtures.

RL Cares Head of Community Emma Goldsmith said: “We are thrilled to be able to deliver Offload fixtures at Leeds and Featherstone and are looking forward to making the same positive difference to the lives of Rhinos and Rovers fans as we have seen at Salford, St Helens, Widnes and Warrington.

“Offload has a fantastic ability to not just change lives, but to save lives as well. I’m sure all the men who sign up to Offload at both clubs will enjoy taking part.

“We know that lots of men in Rugby League communities are struggling in these very challenging times and Offload can help equip them with the techniques and skills needed to develop and maintain good mental wellbeing.”

Offload has been given backing from Leeds Rhinos hooker Brad Dwyer, who has spoken about his own mental health issues and how opening up and speaking to others helped him deal with them.  Now the Rhinos star has pledged to help people going through their own battles by pledging to support the Offload programme.

Dwyer said: “I think it’s so easy to underestimate the power of opening up. I never thought it would help me, but it 100 per cent changed my life for the better.”

Leeds Rhinos Foundation Community Development Officer Sam Horner said: “We are very pleased to be delivering Offload and we will be running many sessions throughout the city of Leeds over the next few months.

“There will be lots of opportunities to be involved in this brilliant programme, which will help people manage their mental fitness and the general pressures of life. We are grateful to have the support of Brad Dwyer, who is keen to work with us to help the project be a success.  We will also welcome more guest presenters, including Rhinos legend Keith Senior, who will share some of his life experiences with the group.”

Head of Community Development at Featherstone Rovers Foundation, Amy Hardman is looking forward to starting the project.

“We are really looking forward to getting this project off the ground in Featherstone,” she said. “After what has been such a tough year for everyone it will be fantastic to deliver something so positive.

“We hope the amazing work that is being done across the sport of Rugby League as a whole will provide much needed support and coping mechanisms in our communities to tackle mental health.”

Offload fixtures are available for open age men (16+) and are free to attend: the programme normally runs for 10-week blocks with different presenters each week speaking about a range of issues around mental fitness.

Leeds Rhinos Foundation will be running Offload fixtures in two ‘squad’ sessions at Emerald Headingley Stadium on Thursday evenings from November 26, with five places available at each session.

Each 45-minute fixture will be hosted at the TryZone in the North West corner of Emerald Headingley Stadium from 6.30pm to 7.15pm and 7.45pm to 8.30pm.

To sign up for Offload at Leeds Rhinos, or for more information, please contact Leeds Rhinos Foundation Community Development Officer Sam Horner on 07780 676132 or email Sam.horner@leedsrhinosfoundation.org

Offload fixtures at Featherstone start on Wednesday November 18 at 6.15pm in the Premier Suite at the Millennium Stadium on Post Office Road. Places are limited due to Covid-19 restrictions. To register text 07884 451223 or visit www.featherstoneroversfoundation.org

For more information about Offload please click here