Winning promotion back to National One will be just one of the tasks set before Pertemps Bees players this season as the club look to both push for the top and build from the bottom.
To that end, they have re-engaged destroyer extraordinaire Alex Davidson who, during his time on the pitch, will continue to wreak his unique brand of controlled havoc; off it, he will be charged with creating links with the local community in Solihull.
Davidson and Andy Daish, last year’s top scorer from flank forward, are in charge of a new department at the club and will co-ordinate coaching and corporate activities for around a dozen players who have been contracted to devote at least a day each week to improving the club’s standing.
With a degree in sports science and masters in sports business management, the 27-year-old believes the key to a healthy Birmingham & Solihull Rugby Club will not be found within the four walls at Sharmans Cross Road.
“We have tried over the last couple of years but, in truth, it has been pretty half-hearted; a lot of schools have been let down by Birmingham & Solihull in the past and we won’t let that happen again,” Davidson said.
“Part of me staying for next season was building up the community side. I want to get to ten years playing at one club and, in the meantime, I see stronger ties with the community as being the way we are going to strengthen the club and take it forward.
“I sat down with [head coach] Russell Earnshaw and we agreed that any players coming in had to be of the right ilk and agreeable to spending eight hours each week working on community projects.”
Chief amongst those projects will be coaching sessions in schools. Davidson has held meetings with the education department at the borough council as well as the health authority and is in a position to send his team into around 20 schools from September with a view to doubling that number.
In the first instance, Bees players will run a six-week tag rugby programme and feed promising schools into a league, then direct interested players not into their own mini and junior system - which is largely self sufficient, but to local junior clubs like Camp Hill.
“It has to be sustainable and we are looking for it to grow over a three-year period,” he continued. “We want to focus that on nine, ten and 11 year-olds and our main aim is to visit schools in both the north and south of the borough and then, after Christmas, after running competitions we want to combine the whole borough as one with a borough-wide competition, maybe with a finals day as a curtain-raiser to our move to Damson Parkway.”
The scheme has similarities with that which kept Moseley afloat six years ago. Young players are recruited for the first team but spend some of their time going into schools. However, Davidson wants to develop the initiative into one that bears resemblance to another National One outfit.
“All credit to Dan Protherough and Moseley, they have built a very successful model,” he said. “We want do something like Rotherham have done by moving away from that traditional set-up with things like reading clubs and using what rugby inherently has – a clean image.
“The club can benefit, too. As a player, you need people on the sidelines. As well as giving children the chance to play the sport, we hope to attract them and their parents down to the club on a Saturday.
“We are in a position where we should win all of our games next season – I believe we can do that, so we should get some momentum and that is an attractive commodity.”