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White Line Fever

Pictures: Exeter Rugby Club/Pinnacle Photo Agency

Exeter Chiefs and the rugby charity Wooden Spoon have teamed up to produce a new six-week programme aimed at helping youngsters with emotional issues

‘White Line Fever’ is a bespoke programme written and designed by Keith Fleming of the Chiefs community department which bids to assist young people who have issues with anger, communication and frustration and help gear those problems into positive outcomes.

Using the sport of rugby as the perfect vehicle to drive the programme, the club’s community coaches work with those on the course to learn more about controlling their aggression in the right manner, through areas such as team work, goal setting and game plans and then relating it all back to daily life and problems they may incur.

As Keith explains: “The aim of our programme is to get the youngsters to control their emotions correctly and then work positively on ways to improve their lifestyle. Initially we talk to them about problems they may have come up against already, before then discussing ways of tackling the various problems and channelling it all into what we hope is a positive outlook.

“At times it’s certainly not easy and we are realistic to the fact that not everyone involved will be a success story, but if we can help the majority of those involved, then we will be over the moon.”

Helping back the programme to the tune of over £30,000 are the Devon branch of the Wooden Spoon, who in their 12 years of existence have helped to invest over £1 million into various projects around the county, including a number here at Sandy Park.

Devon Wooden Spoon chairman Bruce Priday, himself a former Exeter player, this week popped along to see the conclusion of the latest programme, which has worked with youngsters from West Exe Technology College.

He said: “Over the years Wooden Spoon in Devon has invested large sums of money into capital projects, but we felt as a committee we wanted to branch out a little bit more and try and tackle some of the social issues within the region. The ‘White Line Fever’ project offers the perfect project as far as we are concerned.

“Written by the Chiefs, I am delighted to see the way it is working locally and from others who have seen it, the feedback I have received is that it is the best of its kind in this sector.

“As someone who has been involved in rugby for much of my life, helping the Wooden Spoon is kind of payback for me. These days I knock about a lot with guys who I knocked about with when I was playing and when we party too much sometimes, I just reply it’s for the charity.

He added: “As I said, Wooden Spoon are massively impressed with how the programme has been launched and delivered – and I believe it’s a massive accolade to the club, which is developing so fast, that they have been able to do this.

“Already I’ve heard of several success stories. One being a lad has gone back into main stream schooling, another is trying to work out how to qualify as a carpenter and the other is how a group of girls who never even got involved in PE lessons are now doing so and even playing rugby in a team. That’s great to hear and long may it continue.”