Growing the game: Houston SaberCats kick off youth outreach program
The Sterling High School football team stood on the field with no helmets, no shoulder pads, just tee shirts, and gym shorts on a warm spring afternoon in Texas.
The team’s attention was on a special guest coach, Houston SaberCats’ captain and Academy Director Matt Trouville, and he was teaching the fundamentals of rugby tackling to a group of eager young athletes.
“I wanted to have my team try rugby because I had heard of the innovative ways they approach the safer tackling methods,” said Sterling High School Football head coach and former NFL player Kavavis McGhee. “I’ve been in this game for a long time, and had never heard these techniques before, it was quite extraordinary.”
The Houston SaberCats held a free rugby clinic for the Sterling High School football team, the first in a series of community outreach initiatives aiming to bring rugby and its values to at-risk youth in the city of Houston. The rugby clinic was run by SaberCats players, led by Trouville. With no pads or helmets, rugby tackling is all about form and technique, important skills for developing young athletes.
“After just 15 minutes of instruction, I saw my players rethink how the game is played. Rugby brings technique and body positioning to the table that we should all incorporate. I’m a huge fan,” said Coach McGhee.
Sterling High School is part of Houston’s South Park area, a neighborhood where team sports have provided an invaluable outlet and support network for at-risk youth. The outreach program is part of the SaberCats’ pledge to the City of Houston to use the game of rugby to engage and mentor young people in the community, teaching important life lessons about teamwork, self-discipline, and respect. The SaberCats hope to attract other partners to collaborate on the outreach program as the team continues to grow its roots in the Houston community.
Speaking after the session, Matt Trouville said: “Our partnership with Sterling High School is an incredible opportunity for the SaberCats to have a positive impact in the local community. Our goals align with Mayor Turner and with City of Houston in bringing rugby to athletes in the Houston ISD and creating another positive outlet for at-risk kids. Working with the football teams was a great experience and we look forward to continuing our tackle development with these great kids and coaches.”
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