Service teams up with women's rugby league teams
Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service is tackling an ambitious project to recruit more women firefighters by partnering up with Warrington Wolves and Widnes Vikings Rugby league Clubs.
In a bid to further increase the number of women firefighters, the Service has developed an existing partnership with the Warrington Wolves Foundation, whose senior women’s team has embarked on their debut season in the Women’s Championship league, and also the Widnes Vikings Women’s team. Both teams hope to challenge for promotion to the Women’s Super League this season.
The Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service crest now appears front and centre of the jerseys of 10 teams across both clubs in total, and the new kits were on display when the two teams met on Sunday. In a well-contested match, Warrington emerged triumphant with a 40-10 victory.
Assistant Chief Fire Officer Gus O’Rourke said: “Through these partnerships with two of the most famous rugby league teams in the country, we want to send a message to all physically active women across Cheshire that if women can participate in rugby league and other physical sports, then a career in the fire service is no more daunting or demanding, come and speak to us.
“We are all so inspired by these women who are stepping forward and challenging the stereotype that rugby league is a male only sport, equally the fire service has for too long been seen as a white male dominated occupation”
“Our percentage of under-represented groups is close to reflecting that of the communities within Cheshire, however we are far short of reflecting the female population of Cheshire which is obviously close to 50%.
“We are demonstrating through these partnerships our commitment to improving diversity in our workforce, and we are hoping to expand the programme across the other areas of Cheshire. We want to emphasise that we really value the many attributes that women can bring to our fire and rescue service. It also supports our long term vision of encouraging younger girls in the Cheshire area to consider the fire and rescue service as a viable and realistic future career option.”
As well as the senior women’s team, the Warrington Wolves Foundation teams being supported include the Girls under 16’s, Girls under 14’s and Girls under 12’s teams, as well as the Physical Disability RL Team, the Learning Difficulties RL team and the Wheelchair RL Team. The Service will also continue to sponsor the primary schools’ competition in Warrington, which is run by the Foundation.
The Vikings partnership extends to the club’s two senior women’s teams as well as their learning disability team.
Gus added: “We have more and more inspirational and courageous people challenging the limitations society places on them and we are happy and proud to support them and stand with them. We wish all the teams every success for the coming season.”
Shaun Briscoe, Partnerships Manager at the Warrington Wolves Charitable Foundation, said: “'We are delighted to once again partner with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service in 2019 and have them as the inaugural women’s team main sponsor. It means that we can continue to grow the sport of rugby league throughout Warrington and Cheshire.
“We will offer rugby league in some variation to anybody wanting to play this year with the start of a wheelchair team and the continuation of the physical disability and learning disability teams, all thanks to the support of our sponsors.
“We hope that wearing the Cheshire Fire and Rescue badge will give the players that extra impetus to do something extra special and inspire others to follow suit.”
Liam Clark, Head of the Viking Sports Foundation, said: “Widnes Vikings are delighted to have partnered with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, as they have shown their support for both our Women’s and Learning Disability Rugby League programmes.
“They will be supporting our Women’s Pathway at both college and first team level, helping develop the next generation of girls aspiring to play rugby league, along with backing our learning disability team, which has gone from strength to strength since its formation.
“Women’s rugby league and learning disability rugby league are two of the fastest growing projects within rugby league, and we are extremely proud of the progress we have made since the formation of both teams. We’re looking forward to kick-starting this partnership with Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, and with their support we’re confident we can make huge strides forward.”