Lecturer Gary's rugby league award
17 October 2012
A health studies lecturer who has dedicated his spare time to supporting the development of rugby league in north Wales has been named volunteer coordinator of the year by Wales Rugby League.
Gary Stevenson, principal lecturer in nursing at Glyndŵr University, took on the role of voluntary referees’ coordinator for North Wales 18 months ago as part of a drive to grow the sport of rugby league in the region.
Officially, the role is focused on arranging referees for rugby league matches and arranging the interchange official for Crusaders home matches but Gary extended his commitment by coaching and developing referees’ skills.
This has seen him travel across North Wales attending matches with up-and-coming officials and working to attract younger referees to the game, from aged 14 upwards.
A former Rochdale Hornets youth player and lifelong Salford City Reds fan, 57-year-old Gary has been a rugby league referee since his playing days ended more than 15 years ago.
“I was surprised when I heard about the award,” said Gary. “But it’s nice to know that if you do that little bit extra and go that extra mile you’ll get some recognition.
“The game is really starting to grow here in north Wales and it’s nice to be part of it. Matt Pritchard the Wales Rugby League Development officer for North Wales has made enormous strides in developing rugby league in North Wale and it has been great working with him. We’ve now got five local teams and we had an inaugural North Wales Rugby League Championship Grand Final in Colwyn Bay this year, following a league season, so we’re getting there in terms of the infrastructure needed. Now we need to try and build up youth teams. It would be great if the local amateur clubs could provide the local talent to feed in to the Crusaders side, who play at a higher level in the Championship at our university stadium.”
Gary was influential in developing the university’s relations with Wales Rugby League when it purchased the Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium in July 2011.
He also works as a rugby league ambassador for the university, developing the university’s links with the sport.
Gary added: “My big hope is that we can get a student rugby league team up and running here at the university. I think it’s something that we can achieve within the next two or three years.
“The university is becoming a key partner in supporting the development of rugby league in the local community and I’m also hoping to develop further links in line with our own expertise in health sciences. For example, I’m exploring whether rugby league can work with the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board on health-related projects and whether our sport and exercise sciences team could develop a referee module within their sports coaching and sports science programmes.”
Gary joined Glyndŵr University in November 1999, initially as a senior lecturer in nursing. Prior to this, he worked for the Welsh National Board for Nursing and Midwifery as national adult and children’s nursing advisor. Before he entered academia he worked in several clinical nursing positions after qualifying as a nurse in 1978.
Gary will be presented with the volunteer coordinator of the year award at the Wales v England rugby league international at the Glyndŵr University Racecourse Stadium on Saturday 27 October 2012.Tickets for the autumn international cost £15 adults and £7.50 for concessions. For more information or to book tickets visit http://www.walesrugbyleague.co.uk/match_day/tickets