Five stars of Premiership Rugby’s HITZ programme have been recognised for their contributions to the scheme which works with more than 2,000 young people across England every year.
The award-winning education and employability initiative focuses on 14-19-year-olds and rewarded five committed personnel at a special ceremony at the BT Centre last week.
Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch MP and World Cup winners Jason Robinson and Phil Vickery were in attendance as Milton Kachecha, Jake Britton, Maddi Eager, Jason Kitchin and Aaron Phelps-Naqvi all picked up awards.
Kachecha of the Northampton Saints HITZ programme walked away with the HITZ Best Rugby Performer award for his progress in the sport on and off the pitch.
Having arrived from Zimbabwe and initially struggling academically at school, and seeing his confidence take a hit as a result, Kachecha turned to his love of rugby.
— Land Rover Rugby (@LandRoverRugby) November 22, 2017
He guided his colts team at Old Northamptonians to victory in the Alliance Cup at Franklin’s Gardens, and hopes his future lies within the sport.
“The HITZ programme has given me motivation to want to do more and work harder and now I see a future for me in rugby,” he said.
“They’re looking at me for East Midlands Academy so it’s really good at the moment for me rugby-wise and it’s all thanks to HITZ really.”
Jake Britton of the Bath Rugby HITZ programme was also a winner in the Young Ambassador category for his character and leadership in the South West.
I can’t sing the praises of @HITZRugby loudly enough. I have no doubt my son Luke’s life would’ve been very different had this been there for him, please take the time to read #rugbyunited https://t.co/k0oRqXafMx
— Debbie Knight (@debsknig) November 22, 2017
The teen travels 90 minutes to attend each session and revealed the help and support of those at Bath Rugby was a major factor in his success.
“All the guys at Bath have been amazing, all the support I’ve received, especially with travelling in and home,” he said.
“They understand what I need to go through and how annoying it can be with public transport – they’re so supportive.”
Elsewhere, the HITZ Community Impact went to Eager of HITZ Gloucester Rugby for her impressive work organising charity events and volunteering in a care home.
She also offers advice for HITZ learners struggling with school and is hoping to reach Hartpury College after retaking her GCSE and A-Levels.
Congrats Maddi Eager and @gloucesterrugby 🎉 Maddi is the first winner at tonight’s HITZ Awards 2017 as she takes home the @HITZRugby Community Impact Award, supported by @charityspoon #HITZAwards pic.twitter.com/qQiA0093Se
— Wooden Spoon (@charityspoon) November 21, 2017
Kitchin, of the Wasps HITZ programme, was the winner of the HITZ Young Achiever award after overcoming a range of challenges to progress in education and training.
He was expelled from school due to his ASD and ADHD but has recently been accepted onto the Prince’s Trust scheme and is on his way to becoming a youth worker.
Finally, Phelps-Naqvi, a member of the Sharks Community Trust team, walked away with the HITZ Champion award for going above and beyond the call of duty to support participants.
“It’s massively rewarding just seeing the progress these young people make on a daily basis which is excellent. A lot of them haven’t engaged in education for many years, but they do on our HITZ programme,” he said.
“That’s one of the main reasons I go in everyday, that I’m able to help get these young lads and ladies on the right track.”
That’s a wrap! What an inspiring evening at the @HITZRugby Awards 🏉
Thanks to all the supporters and congratulations to everyone shortlisted #HITZAwards
Here are your winners! pic.twitter.com/voLX1o7QPd
— HITZ (@HITZRugby) November 21, 2017