Your Sporting Chance

Breaking the cycle of repeat offending

Your Sporting Chance (YSC) is a social enterprise based at Keighley Cougars rugby league club that uses the ethos and value of professional sport to mentor and inspire young people in the local area.

YSC specialises in engaging young people who have been involved in (or are at risk of becoming involved in) anti-social behaviour and would benefit from a positive male role model. By providing early, non-time limited intervention, they aim to break the cycle of repeat offending and prevent young people from ending up in the Criminal Justice System.

Uniquely, the project draws upon the skills and profile of the Cougars’ Club Captain James ‘Buster’ Feather and Australian Forward Brendon Rawlins, both of whom act as mentors on the programme and work with the young person to address issues around their home and school life, challenge negative behaviour and reinforce boundaries.


Your Sporting Chance Project Leader, Mary Calvert, turned to Sported having seen a national news item on TV about the charity’s work. Sported’s expertise in Sport for Development and belief in YSC’s approach provided a welcomed boost for morale, as Mary explains:

The thing that Sported really understands is that if you are working with young people who have been brought up in a dysfunctional environment for 10 or 12 years, you can’t just turn their lives around in six weeks, neither can you do it by solely teaching them to play a sport.

What you can do, is start to build a trusting relationship to give them the confidence to try new things and aspire to do more with their lives. Using the discipline and ethics of sport you can start to teach them about the rules of life.

Following a successful six-week programme with the West Yorkshire Police and Incommunities, Sported awarded YSC a large grant to fund the continuation of their ‘Winners 2’ programme for another two years. In addition, Mary was also able to call upon the expertise and advice of her Sported volunteer mentor, Stuart Cummings MBE, as well as the local knowledge of Paul Steele, the charity’s Yorkshire & Humber Manager.

The help and support Stuart and Paul provided proved to be invaluable. “When you’re doing this type of work, particularly as a small organisation, it becomes very intense. Because of that you sometimes miss the wood for the trees. You can lose your objectivity. Knowing that I could turn to Paul or Stuart for advice and an honest critique of our work was a huge bonus for us because there aren’t many people who really understand what we do and how we do it” said Mary.

The impact and success of Your Sporting Chance’s work is also beginning to be recognised more widely, having recently become an off-site learning provider for local schools, further validating their model of engagement and aiding their sustainability by opening up new revenue streams.

Your Sporting Chance currently has 47 young people, aged 10-16 years, on their programme, all of whom benefit from a combination of mentoring and physical activities. In addition to rugby league, each week their young people will participate in a range of activities including bike rebuilding, fishing, kite flying, swimming, football, cricket and geocaching.