PREMIERSHIP RUGBY has announced three candidates on the final shortlist for the HITZ Young Ambassador award supported by Land Rover.
Relon Thompson (Northampton Saints), Josh Hardy (Sale Sharks) and Jorden Honan (Bath Rugby) all epitomise what the HITZ programme is about having overcome difficult starts in life. One of them will be crowned the inaugural Young Ambassador at the HITZ Awards on 3 December.
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.
The success of the HITZ rugby project is not surprising thanks to the work ethic of everybody involved, says Richard Duncan, Land Rover's Sponsorship and Partnership Manager. As a national partner of the programme, Land Rover are supporting the Young Ambassador award, but Duncan insists that everyone involved in HITZ deserves recognition.
"When HITZ came along it was a fantastic idea and something that we really wanted to be involved in," he said.
"I don’t think the success of it has been a surprise and it’s been amazing to see the time that the Premiership Rugby club HITZ officers have put in because they are the ones on the ground.
"It’s gone from strength to strength because it is a brilliant programme and it’s great for Land Rover to be able to be a part of the inaugural HITZ awards by supporting the Young Ambassador award.
"It’s hugely rewarding and inspiring for me and everyone involved to see the impact that the HITZ programme has.
"The young ambassador nominees are all incredible and to be honest they were all worthy of winning. They have all taken it upon themselves to pass on their experiences to help new participants and have all shown that they are pro-active and willing to volunteer their own time which was really special to see."
The Young Ambassador award rewards the individual who has done the most to represent the HITZ programme to their peers and in their communities. It recognises someone who has grown and changed for the better and whose positive attitude has made an impact on those involved in and around the project.
Young Ambassador shortlist
- Relon Thompson, Northampton Saints
- Josh Hardy, Sale Sharks
- Jorden Honan, Bath Rugby
Relon relies fully on a wheelchair having been shot in the back in a case of mistaken identity in early 2013, while Josh and Jorden both grew up in rough areas with their family largely absent.
All three have conquered these difficulties through the HITZ programme by gaining qualifications, raising money for charity, and acting as fantastic role models for all of the other programme participants in their area.
HITZ, delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby, aims to give new hope to young people by tackling the greatest challenges facing them today. By encouraging participants into regular sporting participation, HITZ promotes good relations between disillusioned young people regardless of their backgrounds and reduces crime and anti-social behaviour.
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.
Duncan is adamant that the HITZ programme’s success will only continue to grow, adding: "It’s all about rugby as a platform for social change and it’s something that we have seen working fantastically well so far.
"HITZ improves lives and gives youngsters a chance to play rugby, and I think the programme is only going to go from strength to strength in the future.
"With young ambassadors like Relon, Josh and Jorden and the experience they bring it will continue to grow and reach youngsters across the country."
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.