IT is the birthplace of Rugby League.
And now a scheme to get youngsters from the Pakistani community involved in the sport has been launched in Huddersfield.
Boys and girls from South Asian families had a session on basic rugby skills from Co-operative Championship I team London Skolars’ player Saqib Murtza at the Zone, St Andrews Road.
They were then joined by their families for a trip to the Galpharm Stadium where 200 of them watched the Giants play Wigan Warriors in a Super League match.
The event was a joint initiative between Huddersfield Pakistani Community Alliance, the Rugby Football League, amateur club St Joseph’s and the Giants.
There are few Asian players in the sport.
Although there is no tradition of rugby league in Pakistan, there is a game known as kabadi in South Asia, which is “a full contact game like rugby but without a ball”.
Mr Mumtaz Ali, manager of the Alliance, which has been working with the RFL for nearly two years, is delighted with the scheme.
He added: “The response to rugby from the Pakistani community has been really wonderful.
“On the way back from the match, one Pakistani lady said that she had really enjoyed the Giants match, but would have been even more happy if her own town had won. There is a real sense of pride.
“It was very good to see all the families mixing with the wider community, it was brilliant.”
On Friday two young members of the Alliance, Saif Ali, 19, and Aadil Yousaf, 17, were also presented with their rugby coaching certificates.
They have been learning their coaching skills at St Joseph’s Rugby club and they hope to go on and pass on their skills to Pakistani youngsters at further rugby sessions during school holidays.
Mr Ali added: “Saif and Aadil can now go on and run events teaching children to learn rugby ball throwing, catching and playing tag and touch rugby.
“We would love to have a young Pakistani player for the Giants within the next 10 years. But we are also promoting the whole game of rugby and everything involved with it.
“There are professions like marketing, PR, electricians and stewards linked with the sport.
“We are hoping that this project will open up the whole game to the South Asian community.”