It may be getting towards the business end of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season, but Leicester Tigers prop Marcos Ayerza is also teaming up with Hope Against Cancer and the Aviva Community Fund to tackle a worthwhile cause off the pitch.
A nationwide initiative, the Aviva Community Fund, offers support and funding of up to £25,000 to causes and projects that are put forward by the public.
As well as turning out for the Tigers 10 times so far this season in Aviva Premiership Rugby, Ayerza has helped Leicester make their link with the Hope Against Cancer charity in his 10th year at the club.
The organisation seeks to raise funding for cutting-edge research into the causes and treatment of cancer in Leicestershire, where until not long ago cancer survival rates were amongst the worst in Western Europe.
The 32-year-old loosehead – who has also been capped 57 times internationally by Argentina – is hoping this worthwhile cause is something everyone in the Leicester rugby community can get behind.
"I’m glad I chose Hope Against Cancer to be my charity to work with. It is a charity that is close to my heart as cancer is a disease that my family unfortunately has experience of," he said.
"I first got involved two years ago, and it is amazing the amount of people they have helped in Leicester for such a small charity.
"They are working very hard to find and diagnose the early stages of cancer. They are an amazing group, and I can’t wait to keep on helping them.
"I’ve chosen them as my testimonial charity, and already we’ve raised over £15,000 which I’m thrilled will be well spent by them in their research, for more treatments and trials to get more people better again.
"The Aviva Community Fund is so important to a charity like Hope Against Cancer, so that they can keep on growing, keep on raising awareness in Leicester, and keep on funding the technologies to detect the disease and work on trials with patients.
"So it’s key for them, and very important that the community gets behind the fund as it is a great initiative."
Marcos has chosen to support Hope Against Cancer for the Aviva Community Fund, and the general public can do exactly the same for their chosen charity by going online and giving a charity the opportunity to receive some much-needed funding from the Aviva Community Fund.
Former players Matt Poole and Martin Johnson are also active patrons of the charity, and Nigel Rose, CEO of Hope Against Cancer, admits the help of community figures such as Ayerza is invaluable as they aim to treat as many people as they can in Leicestershire.
"Hope Against Cancer is a small local charity, and support from the Aviva Community Fund would be absolutely transformational," said Rose.
"We are hoping to run an advocacy project which would enable local cancer patients to take part in clinical research, which is really important as it leads to new treatments and can have a dramatic and positive impact on the community now and into the future.
"Marcos has been absolutely fantastic and he and his family have become very much a part of the Hope Against Cancer family of supporters.
"He’s helping us in his testimonial year with a number of different events, and as a local organisation we are very dependent on support from other organisations in the community.
"Leicester Tigers have been very supportive of us, so we’re very lucky."
Marcos Ayerza was speaking about his support of Hope Against Cancer at the Aviva Community Fund launch, a nationwide initiative from Aviva, title sponsor of Aviva Premiership Rugby, which offers support and funding to causes close to your heart. Visit aviva.co.uk/community-fund