HITZ Awards winner Jason Suttle believes he can help to inspire his fellow youngsters on and off the pitch after being named Best Rugby Performer at the programme’s inaugural awards ceremony.
Jason was one of three nominees for the award that recognises improvement of play and attitude during the programme. Jason admits his self-belief has sky-rocketed ever since getting involved with HITZ.
“HITZ has helped my confidence so much – it has helped me to be more sociable and it has taught me how to become a leader,” said 18-year-old Jason, who was introduced to HITZ through Bath Rugby.
“Playing rugby makes me feel like a different person – I don’t worry about anything else, I just concentrate on the game.
“HITZ has definitely changed my life and inspired me to carry on what I have learned on the programme.
“I’ve learned how to help other people in the same way.
“I was really excited to get an award but also nervous at the same time – it was pretty scary to go out there in front of everyone but I did start to enjoy it.
“There were plenty of other people who could have won. To be honest, I thought one of them was going to get it because I thought they deserved it more than me.”
Jason had struggled with keeping a healthy routine before joining HITZ but as soon as he found the programme, sport took over. He joined the gym and now attends sessions at his local rugby club two nights a week, while also working at Bath Rugby part-time.
Women’s Rugby World Cup winner Natasha Hunt helped to judge the award and Premiership Rugby’s community and CSR Director Wayne Morris was impressed with all of the young people on the shortlist.
“It was a really tough decision for the judges to pick a winner from the three shortlisted nominees because each of their stories is fantastic and they’ve all done so many great things in their journey with HITZ,” said Morris. “Jason is a very worthy winner.”
“We are very lucky as a sport to have really strong core values like discipline, respect and teamwork which the young people who take part in HITZ can take into their everyday lives.”
The award winning HITZ programme tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment. Delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon, HITZ uses rugby to increase young people's resilience, self-reliance and confidence. It gives them the skills to get back into education, vocational training, apprenticeships and employment. Please visit hitzrugby.com to find out more.