As part of the latest national lockdown, Rotherham United Academy are finding new ways to keep players aged 9-16 engaged, in the absence of training and matches.
The academy staff have put together a series of webinars, the first of which involved former professional rugby union player and current commentator Rob Vickerman.
Vickerman plied his trade as a centre, spending four years with Leeds Carnegie before ending his career with Newcastle Falcons. He also captained the England Sevens team.
Since hanging up his boots, he has gone on to become a broadcaster for a range of channels including the BBC and Sky Sports. He has gone on to cover both the 2014 and 2018 Commonwealth Games, as well as the 2016 Rio Olympics and the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
Rob is also the founder of the Workathlete health and wellbeing platform and programme, supporting athletes and businesses globally.
Earlier this week, he joined the academy players via Zoom to discuss his career and provided valuable expertise and awareness in developing personal wellbeing and improving mental health.
Rotherham United Academy Manager Richard Hairyes stressed the importance of keeping players engaged with the academy, as well as parents and guardians during these unprecedented times.
Hairyes also reserved special praise for academy staff, who have been working tirelessly to implement innovative methods to adapt to the current circumstances.
"It is vitally important as this crucial time to make sure that all parents/ guardians and players are engaged with the club,” Hairyes explained.
“Training plans, fitness programs are extremely important for all age groups and we are continuing to work with them on this, but aside from this all my staff have been working hard to introduce new initiatives to keep the players engaged at this time"
Rotherham United Lead Youth Development Phase Coach Stuart Swift added:
“We’re extremely grateful to Rob Vickerman for taking the time to join our academy players and parents to give them an insight into the career and mentality of a highly successful professional.
“Rob provided some great advice around improving personal wellbeing and mental health, which is so important during this time.
“We’re living through incredibly difficult times, but I honestly cannot fault any of the players for the work that they’ve put in and the attitude they have shown.
“Like in the first lockdown, they’ve all been given fitness and analysis programmes to follow in addition to the webinars. Doing it in their own time, off their own backs, without someone there to drive you along can be extremely challenging.
“Having to do it on their own says a lot about their character and how committed they are. From all age groups we’ve been delighted with the application shown and hopefully the hard work will play off once we’re allowed to make a safe return.”