A VILLAGE has its first youth rugby team in a generation thanks to a doorstep sport project.

What started out as a small turn-up-and-play rugby session on the streets of Markham, near Blackwood, has developed into the first youth section its rugby club has seen in many years.

It is a result of a partnership between sports charity StreetGames and Caerphilly council, which began with two recreational sport sessions a week to encourage the less active young people in the area to try sport.

When requests came for an extra rugby session, the numbers soon grew to such a level they teamed up with Markham Rugby Club and have now entered a team into the local youth league.

On a visit to the club, Sport and Culture Minister John Griffiths AM, said: “The response in Markham is an excellent example of how young people will get involved in sport if that first step is made easier for them.

“Being more active will deliver health and well-being benefits, but perhaps more importantly, being a part of team and a community will boost youngsters’ confidence and self-esteem which will hopefully also improve their educational attainment and their life chances.”

The doorstep sport session has more than 40 youngsters a week taking part, and more than 20 players in the rugby youth section.

Cllr Ken James, council cabinet member for Regeneration, Planning and Sustainable Development, said: “This project is a leading example of what can be achieved through good partnership working, especially in deprived communities, for the benefit of the young people.

“The young people are profiting, but also volunteers have received training and qualifications, boosting their employability.”

Caro Wild, of StreetGames Wales, added: “It’s great to see so many different partners coming together.”

The Markham project is now a recognised doorstep sport club and those who attend StreetGames sessions get free access to the private gym at the community building at the weekend.

The project has trained up five volunteers and also supported two individuals to do a level two gym training award to support participants’ link to the gym.