Donaghadee’s Seaside Sharkies get their Teeth into Tag Rugby! Playing at Ravenhill, Pictures & Video

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October 2010 saw the launch of the Donaghadee Seaside Sharkies; a tag rugby team specifically catering for young people with special needs within the Ards and North Down areas. Organised by a small group of local young professionals, the Sharkies became only the 2nd team of their kind in Ireland and are a shining example of how the local community can pull together to make this possible.

Under the auspices of Donaghadee RFC, with financial support from Ards Borough Council and club sponsors Portview Trade Centre, the Seaside Sharkies have been training on Wednesday nights under the floodlights of Donaldson Park, Donaghadee.

CLICK HERE for 13 photos from playing @ Ravenhill, you can view them as a slideshow or individually, pictures are free to download.

“We saw great potential in the idea of setting up a special needs tag rugby team in this area and we’ve been spurred on by the benefits this project is bringing to the wider community” explains Club Leader, Catherine Crawford.

Catherine continues “My sister Kerry and I have grown up caring for a family member with special needs and have witnessed first hand how an enthusiastic team environment can teach patience, understanding and commitment whilst also being fun and a great opportunity for making new friends.”

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After 6 weeks of initial training throughout the autumn, the Seaside Sharkies took to the Ravenhill pitch at half time during the Ulster v Benetton Treviso match on Friday 7th January 2011.

“All the Sharkies were just itching to play their first competitive match, so to have the opportunity to play in front of 7,000+ supporters at Ravenhill was really a dream come true for all our players and volunteers alike.”

“Ulster Rugby have shown the Seaside Sharkies tremendous support in our first few months and we have also worked closely alongside the Newforge Taggers who have offered us their ongoing support and invaluable advice. So it was really special to have the opportunity to play against the Taggers at the home of Ulster Rugby.”

Not even the poor weather conditions could put a dampner on the Seaside Sharkies’ first competitive match. As well as witnessing tremendous support from the Ravenhill faithful, the Sharkies also pulled off a very commendable 5-5 draw against the more experienced Newforge Taggers.

After the game Catherine commented “Everybody just had so much fun, the crowd really responded well and got behind both teams and I know I speak for all the volunteers when I say that we were so proud of how our young Seaside Sharkies performed.”

Active Communities Coach, Stephen Marshall, who has been taking the initial series of training sessions with the new team commented, “Volunteers from North Down and Ards have shown great enthusiasm and commitment to this project, putting the Sharkies through their drills over these first weeks of training. Together we have unquestionably seen each and every Seaside Sharkie develop their tag rugby skills which could clearly be seen last Friday night. Of course there has been plenty of fun thrown in for good measure.”

“A special needs tag rugby team has been long overdue in this region and it is fantastic that Ards Borough Council and indeed Donaghadee RFC have really got behind this project. The Sharkies volunteers have done a tremendous job setting up this unique sports team and we should all take stock of their commitment and determination to see this vision through to reality,” continued Stephen.

If anyone would like more information on the Seaside Sharkies you can contact Club Secretary Kerry Crawford on 077 3421 1564 or email The Seaside Sharkies are also keen to chat to any local businesses who may wish to sponsor this not-for-profit venture and/or future events and as such ask any interested parties to contact Kerry on the number above.

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