Female participants from Premiership Rugby’s HITZ programme, were surprised with a special rugby training session by Women’s Rugby World Cup winning flanker, Maggie Alphonsi, ahead of International Women’s Day.
HITZ is a social inclusion programme run by all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs, using rugby as the motivator to encourage young adults to engage with education, employment and vocational training. Supporting the programme since its inception in 2013, Land Rover has a heritage in rugby and understands the values of the sport that has the power to change young people’s lives.
Taking place at Twickenham Stoop, Land Rover ambassador Maggie Alphonsi provided female HITZ participants from Premiership Rugby clubs London Irish, Harlequins, Saracens, and Gloucester Rugby with a skills workshop.
Alphonsi understands the power of rugby to empower young women and men; to help overcome some of life’s biggest challenges. Resilience, self-reliance, confidence and discipline are all trademarks of rugby and values that HITZ seeks to instil in the programmes participants.
Having grown up on an estate near Lewisham, 34 year-old Alphonsi is able to relate to the challenges facing young girls, and recognises how the sport has the power to change people’s lives.
The TV pundit, and Land Rover ambassador, said: “The HITZ programme empowers young women through rugby to overcome the social challenges that they face in their everyday lives; it’s about trying to make them more confident, and empower them with life skills to aid their studies, and working life.
“Participants of the programme learn how rugby’s core values can directly apply to real life. I started rugby when I was 14, and it has taught me discipline, respect, enjoyment, teamwork and sportsmanship.”
One recent success story from the initiative is 19 year-old Maddi Eager. Maddi found the programme after dropping out of school due to the severe anxiety and self-esteem issues caused by Blount’s Disease, a growth disorder of the tibia.
After developing through the HITZ programme run at Gloucester she has gained leadership, teamwork and communication qualities while developing ambitions to become a sports nutritionist.
“It sounds like an exaggeration,” she began, “but HITZ has without a doubt changed my life, from the way I tackle my mental health, to my physical fitness and newfound passion for nutrition and sports science.
“During my time on HITZ I have changed dramatically as a person in the best way possible.
“Not only has my physical health changed, but I look at my mental health differently. I now try to break down any barriers my anxiety may cause when confronted by social situations. That is something I have learnt through HITZ.”
Maggie Alphonsi is a Land Rover Ambassador. Land Rover is a key partner of HITZ, the sport for change programme that uses rugby to motivate young adults. Follow @LandRoverRugby #WeDealInReal