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I'd be in the gutter without HITZ

HITZ project officer Matt Goode with Relon Thompson © Premiership Rugby

Community News I'd be in the gutter without HITZ

Despite his young years Relon Thompson has no hesitation in admitting his life was heading down a very bad path before he discovered the award-winning HITZ programme.

The 17-year-old from Northamptonshire found a new direction after joining the scheme, which is delivered by Premiership Rugby and funded by partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon.

HITZ works to boost young people’s confidence and resilence, and gives them the skills to get back into education, vocations training and employment. In Relon's case the support came in two parts, a healthy outlet for his frustrations through wheelchair rugby and wheelchair basketball as well as help to further his education after leaving school with few qualifications.

"I love everything about HITZ, since I started going every day just seems much better,” he said. "I was a bad boy, I was on the streets and I was doing some bad things but then I came to HITZ. I thought to myself, 'what's the point?' you won't get anywhere by doing bad things so I joined HITZ.

"I am a better person now, I am starting to get my grades and levels then I can start getting in the big leagues. It's not just about rugby it is about achieving goals - it's about brainpower and knowledge. I'd be in the gutter without HITZ."

HITZ was launched three years ago with programmes currently running at six clubs, including Relon's local side Northampton Saints. Through a structured rugby programme, life skills training and mentoring, the scheme acts as an entry point to tackling some of the challenges facing disenfranchised young people across the county.

Last week’s launch in Lambeth saw HITZ expanded to all 12 Premiership Rugby clubs, with organisers aiming to engage 9,000 young people age aged 11 to 19-years-old. Around 1,500 NEETS (Not in Education, Employment or Training) will also get employability support.

Northampton Saints' HITZ officer Matt Goode said: "It's not just about the rugby and the sport aspect, it's about changing people's lives and giving them a new step forward. Relon came out of school with hardly any GCSEs and he is starting from now and will go on to a full time college course next year.

"The rugby ethos is massive for these youngsters, they feel a sense of being in a team. Especially at Saints, with HITZ, there is a big family theme. It doesn't matter if you are players, HITZ students or cleaners you are all one big family."

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.

HITZ gives those with no hope new hope. Head to hitzrugby.com to find out more.

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