Franchise owner Craig Hunter outlines his keys to didi rugby success

Children run around with balls in their hands at Reading Rugby Club's didi rugby session

Two years after launching the didi rugby Reading franchise, co-owner Craig Hunter explains why it has been such a big success and outlines opportunities to those thinking of getting involved.

“We are very pleased with our journey having started it all off with one days a week at one club, Reading RFC,” he said.

“After one month, I decided to go three days a week at work to develop didi rugby and a few months later, I went full time on didi because the opportunity seemed too good.

“It was a big change for me and the family but I bit the bullet and it has been both hard-work and very enjoyable.

“We are now doing 14 classes a week in the area and are working with three rugby clubs: Reading, Aldermaston and Thatcham.

“Our aim with those clubs is to help grow their minis section and, for example, in Reading’s Under-6s, 14 of their players are from didi classes last year. Our links with clubs enable the children to move seamlessly up to tag rugby when they become too old for didi rugby classes.

didi HQ team

“The siblings of those kids often come along and join in too.”

Craig runs the Reading output with co-owners Donna Clark and Clare Swadling and, with coaches like Umit Akyildiz and Sam Treverton taking on plenty of responsibility too, it’s a well-oiled team.

“We are also in 19 schools doing in-school classes or after school school sessions and we have had five other ones approach us recently too. Word of mouth is key and the didi rugby social media is great too,” Craig continued.

“The job i was doing before was great but I was ready for a change and rugby is my passion. I always wanted to do something like this and a number of my friends have come and got involved too which is great.

“It’s a real team effort in Reading and the didi HQ team have been great support as well. There is fantastic leadership here at didi rugby.”

Craig Hunter

didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen said Craig and the rest of his team had done an amazing job.

“Craig, Donna and everyone involved with didi rugby Reading have been superb at spreading didi rugby’s values and engaging with clubs, schools and the local community,” she said.

“They have worked very hard to grow their provision and have shown just what can be achieved with a didi rugby franchise.

“They have proactive and positive all along and it has been a pleasure for us all at didi rugby HQ to see their growth over the last two years. I am sure there is even more to come in the Reading and Berkshire area.”

  • If you would like an informal chat about the opportunities available to coach or own a didi rugby franchise, email info@didirugby.com or find out more on our website’s ‘franchising‘ section

Read more: 12 Reasons why you should launch a didi rugby franchise

Watch: VIDEO – didi rugby franchising can be a full-time or part-time venture…

Read more: New didi coach Jenny is also the only Level 6 female referee in Leicestershire.

Watch: See what Craig Hunter thought of didi rugby during his early days with the franchise…

 

 

Wheelchair rugby star Coach Umit coaches didi rugby

didi rugby coach Umit Akyildiz is in his wheelchair holding a didi rugby ball

didi rugby Reading’s latest coaching acquisition is causing a storm.

Umit Akyildiz is an inspirational member of the Berkshire Banshees Wheelchair rugby team.

He is also inspiring young children to have fun and learn new skills leading didi rugby classes too.

Co-owner of didi rugby Reading is Craig Hunter and he is also the chairman of the Banshees.

“I got to know Umit through my involvement with the Banshees,” said Craig.

“He was keen to get involved in didi rugby so I took him to didi rugby classes as a support coach.

“He has been working closely with me and he has brought so much to the classes.

“Umit is a very positive, happy person and he is great with the kids. They absolutely love him.”

Wheelchair rugby

And, as far as Umit is concerned, the feeling is mutual.

“Because of my rugby background I really enjoy being part of didi rugby because it gives me a sense of achievement helping others reach their goals,” he said.

“didi rugby is great for the children’s development because it helps them learn better ways to cope with the highs and lows of life. It also helps children develop patience and rugby skills too.

“Being the first coach didi rugby Reading coach to do so from a wheelchair gives me a sense of accomplishment and knowing that I have achieved something that is so important to my life.”

didi rugby coach Umit Akyildiz is in his wheelchair holding a didi rugby ball
didi rugby coach Umit Akyildiz

Wheelchair rugby is a fusion of ice hockey, handball and rugby which not only involves speed and chair contact but also requires tactical intelligence.

Eight rolling substitutes make up squads of 12, with four players on the court at any one time.

The sport is for male and female disabled athletes with the emphasis on fun, excitement and inclusion, particularly for players with higher levels of impairment.

Club sessions are open to anyone interested in learning more about the game, including volunteers. For further information, please contact berkswr@gmail.com or craigchairman@gmail.com

A dozen didi rugby Reading children join Reading RFC minis

A dozen didi rugby stars in a group at Reading RFC

Reading RFC minis have received a huge boost in playing numbers with a dozen children joining the club having graduated from didi rugby classes in the area.

A huge part of didi rugby’s ethos is to make formal links with local clubs to provide a seamless pathway for children to continue playing the game after they become too old for didi rugby classes.

A dozen didi rugby stars in a group at Reading RFC
A dozen didi rugby stars in a group at Reading RFC having moved up from didi classes at the age of 6.

Not only does it provide our didi stars a chance to move straight into tag rugby, it also gives local clubs a stream of youngsters coming into their minis set-up with the skills and confidence already there to hit the ground running.

didi rugby Reading have links with many clubs in Berkshire and their latest group to move up to Under-7s rugby at Reading RFC has delighted everyone involved.

Reading RFC

didi rugby Reading’s Craig Hunter said he was ‘delighted’ to see so many graduates move up to Reading RFC after a couple of children made the move their previous year.

“It’s great to see them want to carry on their rugby experience and the 12 of them have already gelled nicely up at Reading,” said Craig.

“Their parents are pleased and we have had really good feedback from Reading too so it’s lovely to see the numbers we are providing them increasing.”

didi rugby Reading franchise owners Donna Clark and Craig Hunter coach at Aldermaston RFC
didi rugby Reading’s Craig Hunter (right)

didi rugby founder and CEO Vicky Macqueen said this was another example of didi rugby classes working well with their local communities.

“It is important for all of us at didi rugby to support the local community as much as we can and the partnerships we create with local clubs are very important to what we are trying to do,” she said.

“Here are 12 children who have come through the didi rugby set-up and are now too old for our ‘seniors’ classes. So it’s heart-warming to see them move up to a partner club like Reading and know they are in safe hands to continue learning, having fun, growing in confidence and building up that camaraderie that rugby provides.

Developing skills

“Craig, Donna, Clare and the rest of the team at our didi rugby Reading classes have done a great job of capturing these children’s imagination and developing their skills and confidence over the past couple of years.

“We will all be watching their kids’ progress with Reading RFC and wish them all the best of luck. We are always very proud of our didi rugby graduates.”

  • Watch didi rugby Reading coaches Donna and Clare explain why they have so much fun during their classes…

Find a didi rugby class in Sutton Coldfield at Sutton Coldfield RFC

Find a didi rugby class in Sutton Coldfield at Sutton Coldfield RFC

Introduce your children to rugby at a young age with didi rugby classes at Sutton Coldfield RFC in Sutton Coldfield. There are three age groups: 18 months to three years, three to four and four to six.

Our program is designed to get kids active, teach them new skills and improve their co-ordination, speed and balance. It will also help them learn social skills while they have lots of fun in a positive, safe and friendly environment.

These classes are ideal for children living in: Sutton Coldfield, Walmley, Wylde Green, Thimble End, Reddicap Heath, Minworth, Curdworth, Over Green, Wishaw, The Belfry Golf Club, BodyMoor Heath, Marston, Kingsbury, Lea Marston

Sutton Coldfield RFC

160 Walmley Road
Sutton Coldfield
B76 2QA

Sutton Coldfield RFC ran by didi rugby Sutton Coldfield

Contact Dave Lote – 07964 011104    
dave.lote@didirugby.com

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Find a didi rugby class in Wokingham at Finchamstead Baptist Church

Find a didi rugby class in Wokingham at Finchamstead Baptist Church

Introduce your children to rugby at a young age with didi rugby classes at Finchamstead Baptist Church in Wokingham. There are three age groups: 18 months to three years, three to four and four to six.

Our program is designed to get kids active, teach them new skills and improve their co-ordination, speed and balance. It will also help them learn social skills while they have lots of fun in a positive, safe and friendly environment.

These classes are ideal for children living in: Earley, Lower Earley, Whitley, Whitley Wood, Shinfield, Tilehurst, Caversham, Sonning, Woodley, Calcot, Twyford, Southcote, West Reading and Prospect Park.

Finchamstead Baptist Church

Gorse Ride N
Finchampstead
Wokingham
Berkshire
RG40 4ES

Ran by didi rugby Reading

Contact Craig Hunter – 07798 844202
craig.hunter@didirugby.com

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‘Running around after didi kids is hilarious and fulfilling’ – didi rugby Reading coach

Two didi female coaches speak to the camera at Reading RFC

didi rugby Reading coaching duo Donna Clark and Clare Swadling explain why their classes are both ‘hilarious’ and ‘very fulfilling’.

Along, with Craig Hunter, the duo have helped build an incredible success story in the Berkshire and Reading area not only for their franchise but for the hundreds of local children at schools and classes in the area.

Those kids are now benefitting from the values that didi rugby promotes and enjoying being active, having fun and gaining in confidence.

Speaking at one of their partner clubs, Reading RFC, ahead of a series of didi rugby sessions, Clare said: “We just want to make sure that the children have a chance to play rugby.

“Running around after small people is hilarious and very fulfilling. They are brilliant to be around and they just love you during the classes. It’s like having a group of puppy dogs! For those 40 minutes, they just idolise you.

50 Classes operating

 

“I love it here and the atmosphere is so different from where I have come from. I think we have 50 classes operating now and we have only been going for 18 months.”

Donna added: “The spread of didi rugby down here has been huge. We have exploded into schools as well and we are offering session every day of the week.

“Those who are too old for didi rugby are moving onto tag rugby and we love that continuity for children to keep them playing the sport.

“We are also involved with special needs schools and have links with the Berkshire Banshees wheelchair team. We try and support all sorts of areas. There’s loads going on.

Reading rugby

 

“We have an excellent relationship here with Reading RFC but it’s one big family and one big network to attract children and their parents into the sport.

“From speaking to the parents, the children love it. They wake up and say: ‘Is it didi rugby today?’.

“There is a real rapport, they enjoy it and that is what makes them want to come back week after week.”

VIDEO: didi rugby Reading co-owners Donna and Craig explain why the didi rugby franchise model has worked for them…

Find a didi rugby class in Reading at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre

Find a didi rugby class in Reading at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre

Introduce your children to rugby at a young age with didi rugby classes at Loddon Valley Leisure Centre in Earley, Reading. There are three age groups: 18 months to three years, three to four and four to six.

Our program is designed to get kids active, teach them new skills and improve their co-ordination, speed and balance. It will also help them learn social skills while they have lots of fun in a positive, safe and friendly environment.

These classes are ideal for children living in: Earley, Lower Earley, Whitley, Whitley Wood, Shinfield, Tilehurst, Caversham, Sonning, Woodley, Calcot, Twyford, Southcote, West Reading and Prospect Park.

Loddon Valley Leisure Centre

Rushey Way
Earley
Reading
Berkshire
RG6 4GD

Ran by didi rugby Reading

Contact Craig Hunter – 07798 844202
craig.hunter@didirugby.com

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Tommy is thriving at didi rugby despite Hypermobility Syndrome

Suffering from Hypermobility Syndrome Tommy Oliver laughs with his friends at a didi rugby class

It is no wonder mum Sally Nash is beaming when she tells the tale of her son Tommy Oliver’s battle with Hypermobilty Syndrome.

The five-year-old from Bramley near Basingstoke has a condition where bodily joints easily move beyond the expected range.

As a result, it can be hard to control those joints and they can dislocate easily. Hypermobility Syndrome can also lead to pain, chronic fatigue and a host of other challenges at times too.

With that in mind, it was with trepidation that Sally first took Tommy to a didi rugby class some 18 months ago.

Now, he is thriving. And Sally is grateful for everything that has happened to her lad during his time in a didi rugby shirt.

“When he first started, he couldn’t walk in a straight line, let alone run in one and,” said Sally. “Now, with the help of his didi coaches, he is fully active and runs around taking part in everything. He absolutely loves it.

“His confidence has grown in a massive way. Previously, he would hardly ever leave my side but now we have friends round to play and that is great to see.

“He loves his coaches and calls them didi Donna and didi Caitlin. Tommy often talks about them and we sometimes use them to help change his behaviour at home! We say if he doesn’t improve, we are going to tell didi Donna! It works too.

“He sulks if we have to miss a session for whatever reason. He loves it. It is fun and he is often upset when they are finished.

Hypermobilty Syndrome

 

“The free taster sessions helped us get him into it. At many clubs, you have to book a term in advance but didi were really flexible and let us see how he got on and coped with the physical demands of the classes.

“They have been really supportive and if he has a bad day with his Hypermobility Syndrome, they alter what they do to make sure he doesn’t feel left out.

“He has come on so much with his motor skills through didi it is amazing. He loves it and we love it too.

One of his coaches is franchise co-owner, Donna Clark.

“Tommy always comes bounding up to us and into class with a big smile on his face and he is clearly thriving. His enthusiasm and giggle is infectious and if I could bottle it, I would,” said Donna.

“There is nothing he won’t try and through his determination and enjoyment of didi rugby, we have seen a huge improvement in his balance and coordination. There really is no stopping him. He is an absolute joy to coach.”

Read more: Tommy was in the news when he first started didi rugby too

Watch: VIDEO – Italy’s didi rugby pioneers from Colorno visit HQ

What is didi rugby?

 

Aldermaston RFC in Reading: find a didi rugby class here

didi rugby Reading franchise owners Donna Clark and Craig Hunter coach at Aldermaston RFC

Aldermaston RFC in Reading: find a didi rugby class here

Find a didi rugby class: Aldermaston RFC in Reading is hosting didi rugby classes so you can introduce your child to rugby at a young age. There are three age groups: 18 months to three years, three to four and four to six.

Our program is designed to get kids active, teach them new skills and improve their co-ordination, speed and balance. It will also help them learn social skills while they have lots of fun in a positive, safe and friendly environment.

If you are looking to find a didi rugby class in the area, these sessions would be ideal for parents and children who live in: Aldermaston, Tadley, Baughurst, Bradfield, Burghfield Common, Burghfield, Riseley, Silchester, Mortimer, Swallowfield. They would also be ideal for anyone living in: Theale, Woolhampton, Bramley, Hannington, Pamber End, Pamber Heath and Brimpton Common.

The franchise owners of didi rugby Reading are Craig Hunter and Donna Clark.

“The support from didi was spot on in the build up to launch and the infrastructure was right too. So we took the plunge and went for it full-time and we are confident we will continue to grow with the help of Vicky and team didi behind us,” said Craig.

“Our links with local clubs are important and we are trying to help those without big mini sections so they can use their link with us as stepping stone to build their Under-6s.”

Donna added: “It has been good fun spreading the values of didi rugby through classes, clubs and schools too. Vicky and her team are always on the end of the phone if we need them.”

Aldermaston RFC

Recreational Society
AWE Aldermaston
Reading
Berkshire
RG7 4PR

Ran by didi Rugby Reading
Contact Craig Hunter – 07798 844202
craig.hunter@didirugby.com

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Find a didi rugby class in Reading at Caversham Heights Methodist Church Hall

Find a didi rugby class in Reading at Caversham Heights Methodist Church Hall

Introduce your children to rugby at a young age with didi rugby classes at Caversham Heights Methodist Church Hall in Reading. There are three age groups: 18 months to three years, three to four and four to six.

Our program is designed to get kids active, teach them new skills and improve their co-ordination, speed and balance. It will also help them learn social skills while they have lots of fun in a positive, safe and friendly environment.

These classes are ideal for children living in: Tilehurst, Caversham, Sonning, Woodley, Lower Earley, Earley, Calcot, Twyford, Southcote, West Reading and Prospect Park.

Caversham Heights Methodist Church Hall

74 Highmoor Rd
Caversham
Reading
Berkshire
RG4 7BG

Ran by didi rugby Reading

Contact Craig Hunter – 07798 844202
craig.hunter@didirugby.com

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