St Helens Women enjoy Army weekend away

Saints Women spent the weekend with the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment over in Chester as they continue to prepare for the new season!

Andy Reid MBE’s Standing Tall Foundation helped to put the event together this weekend and we thank them for their support once again. The Foundation will once again sponsor captain, Jodie Cunningham, this season and we would like to thank them for their ongoing support of our women’s team, it is greatly appreciated by us all!

Standing Tall Foundation Chairman, Andy Reid MBE commented: “Myself and everyone at the Standing Tall Foundation are delighted to be sponsoring Jodie Cunningham again for the 2023 season. I have worked with both the Saints women’s team and the England women’s team over the last few years.”

“Myself and Craig was talking about team building and leadership at around the same time I was asked by the 2nd battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment, to deliver some wellbeing and mental health projects for the soldiers and officers.”

“Having served in the Yorkshire Regiment and being a big fan of the women’s game it was fantastic to help organise a pre season boot camp for Saints women and keep building that relationship and hopefully inspire some female infantry soldiers to take up rugby league and get involved with Saints.”

You can find out more about the Standing Tall Foundation here

The team arrived at the location at around 12pm on the Saturday afternoon. Players and staff were greeted by members of the army and split into two groups, as staff headed to their rooms whilst the players went with the army. The players then marched to their rooms after spending half an hour learning how to march together and the commands that are used within the army. The players then had an arrival chat, before heading to their rooms and then heading back out to begin their trip.

The players had already been split into three groups before we headed for camp, those are listed below:

Team Green

Jodie Cunningham, Chantelle Crowl, Pip Birchall, Alyx Bridge, Darcy Stott, Amy Taylor, Danielle McGifford.

Team Red

Emily Rudge, Shona Hoyle, Zoe Harris, Rebecca Rotheram, Katie Mottershead, Megan Williams, Gracie Bradshaw, Luci McColm.

Team Blue

Tara Jones, Leah Burke, Eboni Partington, Naomi Williams, Vicky Whitfield, Lydia Humphries, Lucie Sams.

After that, the squad went into the woods for the next part of their day. Once they arrived they sat down as they were talked through their first task. The first task was learning how to survive on the army’s rations. Players and staff were shown what to expect in their bag of rations, as well as how to cook some of the food that they had been given in their bags. The squad got to work, looking through their bags to see what they had to eat. Those foods varied from your first meal of the day possibly being an all day breakfast, or maybe even sausage and beans, to dinner being sweet and sour curry or maybe spaghetti bolognese and even included desserts such as chocolate pudding and some brownies. There were other options as well as those ones too that the squad could enjoy too, which included peanuts, a small piece of chocolate as well as other main meals. The players also applied face paint to themselves here, so they all had an Army look at they started their days.

Following that, the players then started the hardest task of their weekend, as they were handed a map. The players had to navigate their way through muddy land areas (which were also very wet), spiky bushes (we would argue self inflicted by the Green Team!), climb hills and also through rivers as they tried to complete their tasks in the quickest time possible. There were three tasks, which included building a tent, players instructing their teammate to walk in a straight line whilst blindfolded and finally teams were tested on making sure they put the boxes into the zone together whilst following strict instructions from the Army Captain James  Taylor!

Once that had been completed, they had their final task of the day. The task was pretty much a PT session that the players took part in, but Army style! The players had to complete an assault course around the length of two Rugby League pitches TWICE. The players were shown around the course by members of the Army before everything got underway. In this event, players had to run around some obstacles, drag some bags of soil, crawl under a net, drag some jerry cans, carry a stretcher and then complete some tasks such as carrying their teammate and crawling on your hands and knees, before going back round the course for their second lap. After they had a few minutes to recover they then headed for another hard challenge which included flipping tyres (ones that you would probably see on a monster truck) in their teams, as well as dragging some bags back and forth again. Following that, the players helped to pack away all equipment and then headed back to their rooms to prepare for the evening.

That evening, players and staff sat down for a meal with several members of the Army. The players were offered a selection of curries to eat, along with sides such as rice, onion bhajis, poppadoms and naan bread. Following their meal, they then headed back to a lounge room to socialise before being invited back in to watch a presentation by Major Muckle, who had been to the war over in Afghanistan several years ago. He talked about all of his experiences from his several trips to Afghanistan, as well as some of the casualties he saw with his own eyes when he was there. Following that, everyone went back to the lounge room to socialise for a bit before they headed back to their rooms for the evening.

Then we moved onto Sunday. At 8am the squad woke up and then went for breakfast, which was served until 9am. Then it was time for our final three activities of a very enjoyable trip. The three activities would all take part simultaneously, with the squad once again split up into their three groups. We spent the afternoon with the Green Team, they did their activities in the following order:

Activity One

First off, we headed to the shooting range. The players were informed that as the Army had some ammo that was near its expiry date (Yes, ammo has expiry dates. No, we didn’t know that beforehand!). They would allow everyone to have five shots each at the targets that were set out in front of them. The teams were split into two groups of five as they took their shots at the targets in front of them. The targets also had five balloons on them for people to try and hit if they were accurate enough to hit the target in the first place. The pistol that was used by everyone was a Glock 17 (G17). Many said this was their favourite event of the weekend!

Activity Two

Following that, we headed to the indoor shooting simulator. This was another very popular activity from within the group that a lot of them loved (despite the heavy guns!).  The group used a SA80 and were able to shoot it both fully automatic, as well as single bullet form as well. In this one, the squad were shown how to reload an SA80, as well as switching on and off the safety and how to make it so they are able to start shooting again once they had reloaded. Following the tutorial, the teams once again got split into two groups. The teams then went through a simulation and had to shoot at the enemies during the simulation, the trick was they had to wait until they got shot at before they could shoot back at people as otherwise they would be killing innocent civilians and would be questioned about why they had decided to shoot them.

Activity Three

The third and final task of the camp was the one event that allowed to players to choose what they wanted to do. The players headed for the gym where they would be able to freely choose what they wanted to do for their final hour of activities in the camp. Some players opted to get some help from physio, Jade Reed, as they had another game that afternoon. Others opted to go through their normal gym routine to end their activities for our Army trip weekend.

The players then headed back to their rooms, before meeting again at 12pm back in the food room for their lunches.

Following that, we had our lunch, as the players sat down with several members of the Army that we had talked to and been coached by over that weekend. After that, we had the awards ceremony, with Team Blue crowned as winners of the weekend’s events, with Naomi Williams also winning the award for best shooter on the Sunday, after popping three balloons with the pistol, before also being better than the rest at the shooting simulator drill as well.

All the players had signed a Saints Red V T-Shirt just after their lunch, which they then gave to the Captain Taylor following the awards being handed out, as a sign of our thanks to them for hosting us on a great weekend camp away, one that we will not forget for sure!

Captain James Taylor had led us around the camp for pretty much the whole trip so we would like to thank him for making us feel so welcome within the area, for being so helpful and answering any questions that our players and staff had for him. He was great with our group the whole trip!

We would also once again like to send a massive thank you to Andy Reid MBE’s Standing Tall Foundation for their help with getting this trip to go ahead. As noted several times already, players and staff all had a great weekend and are veery thankful for the chance to spend the weekend in Chester with the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment!

There will be a full gallery of our trip that will be available later on today!

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