PREMIERSHIP RUGBY has announced three candidates on the shortlist for the HITZ Champion award supported by Comic Relief – Josh Hardy (Sale Sharks), Dan Hart (Worcester Warriors) and Oliver Veasey (Leicester Tigers). The winner will be presented with their award at the HITZ Awards on 3 December.
The HITZ Champion award is designed to recognise a HITZ participant or member of the community who has gone above and beyond the call of duty to help someone on the programme to overcome personal barriers. This could include supporting young people from a chaotic background so that they can build a better future, prevent violent or exploitative situations or achieve healthier finances.
The multi award-winning HITZ programme, delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby, aims to give hope and direction to young people by tackling the greatest challenges facing young people today – unemployment, crime and disillusionment.
As a national HITZ partner, Comic Relief are supporting the HITZ Champion award at a star-studded ceremony on 3 December, and Comic Relief’s sports partnerships manager Sam Shave admits it was not an easy task to choose the shortlisted nominees for the award.
“We’ve been involved with HITZ for a number of years now and continue to support it because we’re really impressed with how the programme has developed,” says Shave.
“Clearly all of these young people are extremely deserving of this award and we’ve had to try to pick out the best of the best.
“They’ve done fantastic work and achieved amazing things so there was no easy way to choose but the three we have got have proved to us that they have gone above and beyond the call of duty.”
HITZ Awards – Champion award nominees
• Josh Hardy, Sale Sharks
• Dan Hart, Worcester Warriors
• Oliver Veasey, Leicester Tigers
Sale Sharks nominee Josh Hardy went above and beyond when he realised that fellow participant John Chester lacked motivation. Hardy made the extra effort to travel to John’s house every morning to make sure that John got to the YMCA Training Centre in Manchester on time for the HITZ training sessions.
Josh also raised £400 for Comic Relief by organising a sponsored bike ride. This included making a special bike that could seat three people to encourage John to take part.
The second nominee, Dan Hart, who volunteers at HITZ Worcester Warriors is an inspiration for the participants at the club. In particular Nathan Collins whose disruptive home life had led him into struggles with drugs and a period of homelessness.
Dan has supported Nathan by teaching him life skills which have given him a positive outlook for the future and worked tirelessly to ensure that he is safe from his previous circle of crime.
The final potential HITZ Champion, Oliver Veasey, struggled during school but has thrived since joining the programme in September 2013. Oliver formed a strong friendship with one HITZ participant who was particularly disengaged, using his humour and mentoring skills to help this student achieve all of his qualifications and a job with Caterpillar. While on the course, he also volunteered on the Leicester Tigers National Citizen Service (NCS) going the extra mile and offering his guidance to others in need. He was such a good volunteer that he has now become a paid Leicester Tigers NCS mentor.
These are just a few of the stories from the 3,000 young people who the Premiership Rugby clubs work with through HITZ every year.
Shave admits that while it is an honour to be given the chance to select the cream of the crop, every participant is equally deserving of an award.
“HITZ has really strong outcomes with young people changing their lives through the programme with employment and education opportunities,” adds Shave.
“Reading the stories of the young people that have come through HITZ from really difficult backgrounds and have taken the chances that the programme has provided is really heartening to see.”
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.
The HITZ Awards will take place on Wednesday, 3 December.