Wigan’s first and only current rugby league side set up exclusively for children with disabilities and learning difficulties is going from strength to strength.
Aspull New Springs Lions was established by mum Becki Keane after her 13-year-old son, who suffered from cystic fibrosis, struggled to settle in at his former club.
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The club is one of only a handful around the country offering youngsters with a range of disabilities the opportunity to take part in the 13-a-side game.
Officials are now hoping to expand the group’s activities to include matches to go alongside their regular weekly training sessions.
Becki, of Springfield, said she had been overwhelmed by the response and phenomenal growth of the junior outfit.
“My lad Sam was playing with other clubs and really enjoyed it but as he got older the more he struggled,” said Becki, who is married to recently-retired Aspull prop David, 32.
“I got chatting to another parent one night and we were talking about how there wasn’t anything specific for children with disabilities and it just sort of went from there.”
And 18 months on from its inception, the club continues to grow and is establishing even greater links within the rugby league family.
Children with a range of issues attend, including youngsters with cystic fibrosis and those of the autistic spectrum.
Mum-of-one Becki, 35, said: “It has been just amazing to see how the children have thrived and come on.
“In terms of their confidence, they have all grown and benefited.
“They absolutely love the training and we’ve developed links with Super League clubs like Warrington.
“Some of their officials and coaches have come down and worked with us, which has been amazing.
“What we’re looking for - and what we now need - is to find other clubs who have a similar set-up so we can arrange matches for the children.
“They love the training but we’d like to see them given the opportunities to play matches as well.
“We’re also always on the look on for more coaches and volunteers.”
Anyone interested in volunteering opportunities at the club, can call Becki on 0751 280 8529.