Clackmannanshire club, Hillfoots, have been awarded with November’s RBS Club of the Month trophy – the second time they have picked up the monthly accolade.
Playing out of Tillicoultry Public Park, the Midlands club are showing great development across the board progressing in all sections from junior to senior. Their first XV have gone undefeated in all league games, taking them to the summit of RBS Caledonia Division 2 Midlands.
Hillfoots President, Peter Norman, said: “Being voted as RBS Club of the Month is a fantastic achievement for us at Hillfoots as we continually strive to improve as a club and the award comes as recognition of this.
“The first XV have been going extremely well this season – especially after a rough time last year – and this has definitely given the club a great boost in recent months.
However, it was not this that impressed the judges most, but the effort shown in encouraging new, fresh talent into the club. This year Hillfoots have introduced 67 new junior members to the club, 30 of whom are eligible for the S1/2 squad which has been bolstered by the club’s close working link with nearby Alva Academy.
In their first year in a competitive league, the Hillfoots under-16 side went unbeaten, in turn being crowned league champions. As well as this, there has been a resurgence in the under-18 section of the club, an area in which Hillfoots haven’t previously been able to field a side.
Norman continued: “This year we’ve seen an influx in the number of junior members in the club, especially between the ages of six and 11, which is brilliant for us to see.
“The kids just seem to keep turning up and I believe this is due to the work we are doing within the community, becoming more recognised as providing a great family environment and overall a fantastic place to be involved.
“There’s now a huge drive in Tillicoultry and nearby Dollar, as well as local schools, to get young people involved in the sport, and we believe Hillfoots is an ideal place for them to start.
“We now have 35 qualified coaches at Hillfoots, which is helping to develop players at all levels in the club. Many of the coaches are also parents, joining after seeing the fun their kids are having, looking to get involved in the family buzz that has always been at the heart of the club.”
The club also regularly field a second XV who compete in the RBS Caledonia Division 4 Midlands, as well as a social over-35s side known as the Cast Tups.
In the month of November, Hillfoots maintained an excellent discipline record with no recorded cardings.
The club have clear and ambitious intentions for their future, not only with their Recruit, Retain and Develop strategy, yet with the launch of Project 2020, a scheme in which Hillfoots look to develop their entire infrastructure to facilitate their growing playing and social community.
Norman said: “As a club we developed Project 2020, which looks at improving everything from the playing side of things to the facilities we have available.
“We see improving our facilities as a great way to encourage new members to Hillfoots and hope that it will help us continue to grow and progress as a club.”
As part of Project 2020, Hillfoots have purchased portable floodlights - with the help of a cash injection from Scottish Rugby’s Club Facilities Fund - so they can continue to train outside in the winter months.
Norman concluded: “We’re delighted that we were able to purchase the floodlights and we extend our thanks to Scottish Rugby for their charitable grant.
“Before in the winter months we have had to look for alternative locations to train, taking players away from the clubhouse. Now, with the floodlights, we can continue to train at our home ground and make use of the great facilities we have to offer.”
Scottish Rugby contributed a sum of £2000, vital for the Caledonia regional club to purchase the floodlights and a secure unit in which they can be kept.
Scottish Rugby makes money available for donation each season via the Club Facilities Fund. Member clubs can apply for a contribution of up to 50% of the cost of a facilities maintenance or improvement project and no more than £2000. The funding is available to make clubs more attractive places to train, play and socialise for current and potential players.
Neil Carrie, Partnership and Projects Manager at Scottish Rugby, said: “We are delighted to be able to support Hillfoots with their ongoing growth and development.
“These portable lights will make an important improvement to the training environment they provide to their growing junior and youth membership.”
As well as a trophy and the £1000 to be invested in the continued development of the club, the winners of RBS Club of the Month will be given a table of ten at the Club awards dinner, on Friday 30 May 2014, and a chance to win RBS Club of the Season. They will also receive up to £500 towards travel and accommodation for the dinner.