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Never watch alone

Rugby league leads the way with a fantastic new initiative

Phil Clarke Posted 21st October 2009 view comments

Rugby League is one of the most innovative sports in the world, and not just on the field.

The RESPECT campaign that we launched in 2005 has now been adopted in football and is even used by UEFA in their Champions League tournament promotions. It's about giving Respect to everyone in the game.

Never watch alone: Phil and initiative founder Terry Mann (l) and Wigan's Mike Watson (r)

Never watch alone: Phil and initiative founder Terry Mann (l) and Wigan's Mike Watson (r)

The 'Never Watch Alone' initiative was launched in Wigan this year and they have asked me to act as the Ambassador to promote this worthwhile project in partnership with the National Association of Disabled Supporters, Wigan Warriors and Wigan Athletic.

The aim is to help supporters with a learning disability to attend matches alongside their fellow supporters.

This is a brilliantly simple idea which is transferable across countries and disability groups. The framework is easily duplicated at other rugby league clubs and other sports in the UK.

Phil Clarke on Never Watch Alone
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This pioneering project uses a network of 'buddies' to enable those supporters with a learning disability to go to games, not with a professional carer but with a friend, a like-minded fan who shares their passions as well as the camaraderie, socialising before and after the game.

Fans of the Warriors and Lactics are being asked to sign up as 'buddies' to the Never Watch Alone Initiative.

Buddies don't need experience; on-going guidance, support and responsibility will be handled by the professionals overseeing the initiative. You just need to be 18 years or older and have a passion for your sport.


There are loads of benefits, obviously it helps integrate those with learning difficulties into the wider community and connects supporters.

It also breaks down many barriers and reduces social exclusion and ultimately strengthens the local community. More than anything, it makes it possible for somebody who otherwise might not have been able to go to a match to shout for their team.

The initiative has already received support from the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport Andy Burnham said: "A shared passion for sport unites people from all backgrounds and this is what the Never Watch Alone Initiative is all about.

"It is a fantastic initiative and I commend Wigan Learning Disability Partnership Board, the National Association of Disabled Supporters, Wigan Athletic Football Club and Wigan Warriors Rugby League Club for coming together to take this forward.

"I am sure it will prove a fulfilling experience for everyone involved and will bring about many lasting friendships."

The ultimate aim is to enable people with learning disabilities to lead full, purposeful lives in their communities and to develop a range of friendships, activities and relationships.


This is a brilliantly simple idea which is transferable across countries and disability groups. The framework is easily duplicated at other rugby league clubs and other sports in the UK.

In fact the idea has already been presented at European Football Fans Congress in Hamburg, Germany in July this year to delegates from 29 different countries representing two million fans across Europe.

It's the first initiative of its kind in Europe in assisting people with learning disabilities to attend matches with their fellow supporters.

A representative from a Baltic nation thought that the idea sounded like 'science fiction' - but we're making it reality.

Supporting a team is a bit like being a real life member of a soap opera, and it's much better when you're able to share the magic moments with like-minded fans.

Just as an experienced player often helps to bring along another member of the squad, this initiative encourages fans to do the same.

If you're a Wigan fan, you can get involved now by contacting NWAI co-ordinator Terry Mann in 01942-776579 or If you follow a different team and think that it's a great initiative, get hold of Sarah Williams at the RFL and ask her to promote the idea across the game.

Comments (1)

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Kristy Vikis says...

Phil Phil PHil i laugh every year when i hear yourself, stevo and eddie talk it up about England and super league.... Honestly mate there is not 1 player in englands 24 man squad that would even make our train on team.. To suggest that your forward pack is better or on par is laughable... I realise u have english pride, you also have to promote the game in England and your employed by sky sports... but its BLASPHEMY... Australia will demolish your meek side on saturday and im sure yourself,stevo and Eddie will be so biased in your call of the match.. Australia by 19+ also Australia will lose penalty count by what 8 penaltys since Steve ganson gives 20 odd penaltys a game away can't have us win the count can we... At the end of the day Australia played poorly against NZ without a warm up match and NZ can't play any better where as both England and NZ had trail games and you no it mate.. I just pray you give credit to the might and skill of the aussie side as opposed to blaming bogus ref calls or mistakes We down under just laugh at you guys channel 9 should send them own commentry team over there cos you 2 are a disgrace.... Lastly too the english fans of league just because your SL champs beat out NRL champs in feb.. Our off season usually when its summer in AUS icy cold in england usually 1 or 2 players would of retired from our premiers 1,2,3 players signed to another club its kinda embarrassing that you proclaim to be world club champs Leeds, St helens, Bradford wouldnt even make the top 8 in the NRL go ask MORLEY or ELLIS there honest opinion... IM not being rude just blunt Mate and in your heart i no you realise its the truth...... Kind regards

Posted 11:13 30th October 2009

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