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HITZ Awards – Young Achiever shortlist revealed

PREMIERSHIP RUGBY has announced Inaam Mohammed (Sale Sharks), Emanuel Opoku (Harlequins), Aaron Stanley (Worcester Warriors) and Relon Thompson (Northampton Saints) as the four finalists for the Young Achiever award supported by Barclays.

This award will be presented at the inaugural HITZ Awards on 3 December.

The Young Achiever award recognises a young person who has overcome barriers to achieve personal success and who has attained the greatest positive progression in their personal journey returning to education, training and employment.

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.

As a national HITZ partner, Barclays is supporting the Young Achiever award.

“At Barclays we’re aiming to change 5 Million Young Futures by giving the next generation the skills they need to succeed. The HITZ programme is an integral part of this commitment. We’re delighted to recognise the achievements of the young people involved around the UK – their stories are truly remarkable,” says Paulette Cohen, Head of Global Programmes, Barclays.

HITZ Awards – Young Achiever shortlist

  • Inaam Mohammed, Sale Sharks
  • Emanuel Opoku, Harlequins
  • Aaron Stanley, Worcester Warriors
  • Relon Thompson, Northampton Saints

Relon had to come to terms with the fact that he would probably not be able to walk again after being shot in the back in early 2013 after becoming involved in gang culture. Through HITZ and a strong positive attitude he has achieved qualifications in maths and English.

Inaam’s excessive shyness meant he left school with poor literacy skills and no qualifications, but thanks to his will to succeed, he completed a foundation learning course while on the HITZ programme and the HITZ work and life skills sessions have helped him to achieve full-time employment.

Aaron’s time at HITZ has helped him to overcome huge confidence issues caused by bullying in school. He finds it easier to meet people and has a far greater self-belief. He has also completed a gym instructing course while on the programme.

HITZ provided Emanuel with an accountancy work-placement at Harlequins, which gave him the confidence he needed to take on an opportunity of a lifetime to study accountancy with a football scholarship in Kansas.

All of the candidates shortlisted also act as fantastic role models for other HITZ participants in their area, who see their success and are motivated to set similar targets of their own.

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 to find out more.

The HITZ Awards will take place on Wednesday, 3 December.

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