Last night the hard work put in by countless individuals up and down the country celebrated at the 2017 HITZ Awards, with a Saints youngster receiving one of the gongs at the London ceremony at the BT Centre.
With World Cup winner Jason Robinson and Phil Vickery in attendance alongside Minister for Sport Tracey Crouch, Premiership Rugby's HITZ programme was applauded as five of its stars collected a top prize.
HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s award-winning education and employability programme, which works with over 2,000 disadvantaged 14-19 year-olds across England every year.
This year’s HITZ Awards saw 15 individuals from Premiership Rugby clubs across England honoured, with five emerging as overall winners in their particular categories including Saints own Milton Kachecha who picked up the Best Rugby Performer Award, supported by Land Rover.
The HITZ Best Rugby Performer award, recognises a young person whose progress in the sport of rugby – on and off the pitch – has helped them overcome a range of challenges and progress back into education, training or employment.
And Milton has certainly done that, having initially struggled in school after arriving from his home country of Zimbabwe.
He was quick to turn to anger due to his confidence being knocked while struggling academically, but Milton brought his love of rugby over to England and helped his colts team at Old Northamptonians win the Alliance Cup at Franklin’s Gardens.
But rugby gave Milton much more than just joy on the pitch as it boosted his confidence and helped him turn his life around and get back on track, with him now understanding that he needs to work hard to achieve his dreams in rugby and academically.
Scott Dicken, Marketing Director at Land Rover UK, added: “Recognising and rewarding the success of youngsters such as Milton is an important part of the HITZ process. These individuals are working hard to improve and develop themselves, and as a long standing supporter of the programme, Land Rover is proud to acknowledge these efforts.
“Milton has shown how rugby can be a truly positive motivator in helping overcome personal challenges. In his case, equipping him with the tools and focus to tackle educational difficulties.
“Through rugby and HITZ, Milton has identified a passion and has a dream to play professional rugby. This highlights the value of the HITZ programme and hopefully his award spurs him on to pursue his ambitions.”
The HITZ programme, delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby and funded by national partners Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon, uses rugby’s strong core values to improve life and employability skills for disadvantaged young people, underpinning success in education, life and work. See @HITZrugby for more information.