Before discovering HITZ, sport was the last thing on Govinda Kay’s mind – but now the rugby-mad teenager is reaching for the stars after collecting the Best Rugby Performer Award supported by Premiership Rugby.
Govinda, who found the programme through Exeter Chiefs, picked up the gong at the HITZ Awards Ceremony, hosted at Barclays HQ in Canary Wharf.
The multi award-winning HITZ programme uses rugby to increase young people's resilience, self-reliance and confidence and gives them the skills to get back into education, apprenticeships and employment. HITZ is run in partnership with Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon.
The HITZ Best Rugby Performer recognises a young person for their progress and development in the sport of rugby – on and off the pitch and Govinda certainly demonstrated this through great sportsmanship in the HITZ session.
HITZ Best Rugby Performer rewards progress in physical fitness and skill, and also looks at how the core values of rugby have supported them to overcome a range of challenges and progress on their journey back to education, training or employment.
And from knowing next to nothing about the sport, Govinda – who also suffers from alopecia – now spends up to seven and a half hours playing rugby after linking up with Topsham Ladies RFC.
See Govinda’s story here
“I went into care at the age of 13, I’ve got a daughter aged two and I left school really young,” she said. “I just thought there was nothing left in life until I met HITZ.
“When I first started I didn’t even know how to throw a rugby ball – I didn’t know any rules – and now it’s my favourite sport, I just want to do it in the future and become a rugby player.
“I felt like there was no way forward, I genuinely just wanted to do nothing with my life. But HITZ sounded like it could actually help me and I’d enjoy it – and I did.
“When I play rugby I can now take my wig off, it felt good running around on the pitch without it on.
“HITZ has helped me a lot and I’d like to help others people with the same problems and make a difference.”
Govinda’s story has resonated with everyone on the programme, according to Exeter Chiefs HITZ officer Gareth Williams.
“Govinda’s life was a bit hectic, she’d not done much sport before the birth of her daughter at 16 and nothing up until the HITZ project,” he said. “So for her to come along brought a lot more life to her.
“To have the confidence – she never would have done before – to go to a ladies rugby team, take her wig off and get stuck in is fantastic.”
Govinda has been on an incredible journey with the support of those at Exeter Chiefs. Govinda clearly has a huge amount of potential and by continuing to be with her new rugby family at Topsham RFC and with HITZ, she will have the role models to help her continue in the right direction.
Govinda is not the only youngster to have fallen in love with the game through HITZ – Daniel O’Connor at Harlequins, Louis Lott at Leicester Tigers, Danyel Chapman and Antony Morris both from Sale Sharks, Anton Smith and Jordan Wickens both from Bath Rugby and George Brand from Worcester Warriors were also shortlisted for the award.
The annual HITZ Awards recognise some of the most inspiring young people in England. The HITZ programme delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon tackles some of the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment. See hitzrugby.com