While the likes of Olly Robinson and Owen Lane dominated the headlines following the Cardiff Blues 2018/19 End of Season awards, it was also an opportunity to acknowledge the fantastic work done throughout the region’s community game.
One of those recognised on the evening was Craig Enticott, who picked up the Young Leader award.
Over the past four years, Enticott has been a student on the Cardiff Blues’ BTEC course, in conjunction with Cardiff and Vale College, and the Foundation Degree, which is ran in association with University of South Wales.
The former Tonyrefail Comprehensive School pupil believes he’s benefitted since enrolling on the Cardiff Blues education programmes, not only in academic terms, but also as a coach and as a person.
“When I finished school, I wasn’t quite sure what career path I wanted to take. When the opportunity came up to continue my studies at BTEC Level Three with Cardiff Blues, I jumped on the chance,” said Enticott.
“There was a theory side to the BTEC course which helped me get my qualifications and I really enjoyed all aspects of the work.
“The nature of the course means that you also develop as people. When I joined up, I didn’t know anyone else but it forced me to get involved with the group and that’s really picked up my confidence in general.
“Without the FD course, I probably wouldn’t have gone on to further my education, but University of South Wales have been great and there is a good balance of theory and practical.
“The facilities are top class and you couldn’t be working in a better environment. Whether that was being at Cardiff Arms Park, doing the practical side of the BTEC course on the pitch, or up in the new USW Sports Park in Trefforest with the FD course.
“I really enjoy it, and the fact that there is a big focus on the practical elements is great for myself, which I feel I thrive more in.
“I love to be out on the field doing the coaching work which is why the courses have been perfect for me. I wouldn’t have had the hands-on experience I’ve gained over the last few years without joining these courses.
“I learnt a lot of important skills on the BTEC course, which prepared me well for the FD course in university, such as working to tight deadlines and that gave us a feel of responsibility and independence.”
Both the BTEC courses, which are supported by Cardiff and Vale College, are held at the home of Cardiff Blues - Cardiff Arms Park - Crickhowell and Bryn Celynnog Comprehensive School, whose alumni include Welsh internationals, Gethin Jenkins and Ellis Jenkins.
Meanwhile, the Foundation Degree, which is ran alongside University of South Wales, is based in the new top class facilities at the Sports Park in Trefforest.
Both courses combine theory and practical work, with a focus on coaching development and students are handed priceless experience through placements with the Cardiff Blues Community Foundation.
Enticott added: “The opportunity to gain coaching experience alongside the course was really appealing, and it drove me to doing extra coaching outside school, before joining up with the course.
“You get more and more hands-on coaching opportunities in schools and on the Cardiff Blues camps, which have been really beneficial.
“I was involved in coaching and refereeing before joining the courses, but they’ve really brushed my knowledge up and I’ve been able to take that to the local club that I also work with, while I’ve also been involved with the new community school in Tonyrefail.”
Cardiff Blues Community Foundation’s education co-ordinator, Daniel Parry, says Enticott is a prime example of the success and aims of the education programme.
Parry said: “When Craig initially linked up with the BTEC course, he was a quiet and shy guy, but we saw him growing in confidence as the course went on and he’s a different man by today.
“His confidence really shines through when he’s out on the pitch doing the coaching work or refereeing, and he’s developed his skill set and we fully trust him to go on placements to lead sessions on his own.
“It’s a fantastic chance for people with a real passion for rugby to continue their development as people and coaches, while also making an invaluable contribution to our community game within the region.”
Places are still open to enroll on Cardiff Blues' education programmes. To find our more, please click HERE or contact Daniel.Parry@CardiffBlues.com