Hull FC’s rapidly expanding Centre of Excellence youth programme has been buoyed by the ambitious appointment of highly regarded Head of Youth, Pete Riding.
He is widely known as one of the sport’s leaders of youth rugby league, having amassed a wealth of experience across clubs and national camps over the last two decades.
Drawn to the exciting new vision for the club’s youth pathways, Riding will join the Black & Whites from Warrington Wolves later this month, where he has headed up their youth department for the last four years.
Based in Yorkshire, he has held similar roles at Huddersfield Giants and Wakefield Trinity, as well as Castleford Tigers where he oversaw the resurgence of their youth programme including an academy Grand Final appearance in 2017.
He has also worked on various national camps and development programmes, as well as working as a coach mentor and performance analyst.
Attracted by the club’s vision for youth rugby and significant investment in their Centre of Excellence programme, Riding said: “I had some good discussions with Brett Hodgson and James Clark about the role and the vision for the Centre of Excellence and it really excited me.
“There is so much potential that lies within the programme, what the club are trying to do can become a blueprint for the sport and we have a chance to leave a legacy and ultimately that opportunity was too good to turn down.
“There is a very strong framework in place at the club, with some very ambitious plans for the future with regards to their programmes, people and facilities. I think I can come in and work with some great people here to build on that and improve what we’ve got.
“The Hull FC Centre of Excellence is a fantastic opportunity for any young player to fulfil their potential and it’s only going to get better. Our job is to ensure we enable them to be the best player and the best person they can be and we provide everything we can to facilitate that development.”
He added, “There is a clear vision of what the club want to achieve over the next few years and what a young Hull FC player looks like, both male and female, and I am really motivated to see how far we can take it.”
Riding will work alongside recently appointed Head of Emerging Talent, Michael Shenton, who has already made a notable impression since moving into coaching at the end of last season.
They’re joined by the club’s largest ever system of youth staff and volunteers, including the likes club legends Lee Crooks and Kirk Yeaman, England Students head coach Richard Tate and a network of highly regarded local coaches and scouts, such as Talent Development Coach Karl Taylor and scholarship coach Kevin Marshall.
Together they oversee the club’s Centre of Excellence programme which now boasts over 110 of the region’s most promising young players across their reserves, academy, scholarship and development squads, as well as growing plans for womens and girls rugby league, LDRL and wheelchair.
Riding has a proven track record in identifying, attracting, and developing some of the best young players in the sport in recent years, many of whom have gone on to be established Super League players, including current Hull FC stars Jake Connor, Josh Griffin and Darnell McIntosh.
His appointment is viewed as a significant coup for the club with leadership and expertise that has been clearly honed working with the likes of former FC coach John Kear, as well as Nathan Brown, Paul Anderson, Daryl Powell and Steve Price.
Now bringing that experience to Hull FC, he is keen to get to work.
Riding said: “We’ve got some good staff and a really good group of players here and we want to continue to add to that.
“We want to identify, recruit and develop some of the best talent from Hull, the local area and across the game, to help the club put the foundations in place for long-term success which is their vision and aim.
“I’ve had the chance to meet the players, the staff and some of our network of scouts and volunteers this week and I’ve been blown away by the people and the depth, they are a really good group of passionate and dedicated people that love the club and want it to be successful.”
Finally, on reuniting with former Castleford captain Shenton, Riding also added, “I know how professional he is and a great leader too, so it was no surprise to me to see him in this role and what the club have seen in him.
“In the conversations I’ve had with him you can feel his enthusiasm and drive for what he is now doing and he has made the transition into coaching really well so far, he has taken it in his stride.
“I’m really looking forward to working with him again.”