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New rugby programme to tackle youth unemployment

Wasps has launched a programme to ‘tackle’ youth unemployment, crime and disillusionment in Coventry.

The award-winning HITZ programme, overseen nationally by Premiership Rugby, uses the game of rugby to increase young people’s resilience, self-reliance and confidence.

The programme, which will be delivered at the Coventry Sports Foundation-managed Centre AT7 in Bell Green Road, aims to give 16 to 19-year-olds the skills they need to stay in or get back into education, vocational training, apprenticeships or employment by providing practical training alongside educational workshops covering employability and financial skills.

Educational rugby initiative Engage! Coventry, hosted by Coventry Sports Foundation and supported by the Millerchip Family Fund, has been commissioned by Wasps to deliver its Premiership Rugby community programmes across the city.

Anthony O’Reilly has been appointed as Wasps’ HITZ officer and will be looking to recruit around 40 young people to join the programme during its first year.

Young people can sign up to join the programme and referrals will also come from youth offending teams, police and probation services and social and youth services in Coventry.

Anthony has a wealth of experience supporting children with learning and behavioural difficulties having previously worked at a Pupil Referral Unit and as a sport and leisure activity leader for Charnwood Borough Council in its priority neighbourhoods.

The 26-year-old is also a Sports Development and Coaching graduate from Staffordshire University and plays for Syston RFC in Leicestershire.

Anthony said:

“I am delighted to have been appointed as Wasps’ HITZ officer. The project will help young people across Coventry to realise and fulfil their potential, giving them the best chance to find work or start further education.

“Not only will they learn key skills of the game, they will also enter a personalised study programme which will teach numeracy, literacy, IT and employability skills.

“Integrated discussions will also look to tackle some of the biggest challenges facing youngsters today by focusing on issues such as drugs, sexual health, anger management and communication.

“Our aim is to recruit over 120 young people throughout the three year programme and empower them with the skills and confidence they need to progress positively back into education, employment or training.

“Rugby is an inclusive game and its core values of teamwork, respect, integrity, enjoyment and discipline can be used as a vehicle to inspire young people and help them develop into healthy, well-rounded and confident individuals.

“I am looking forward to welcoming the first group of young people and to helping them to reach their full potential.”

The HITZ programme is funded by national partners Barclays, Comic Relief, Land Rover and Wooden Spoon.