Hitz Project Ambassador – Jonathan Joseph
With the memory of rioting still fresh in the minds of Londoners, London Irish rugby club is doing its bit to tackle anti-social behaviour in the capital.
Through the Hitz project, London Irish deliver community rugby training sessions in Croydon to over 100 young people on a weekly basis. Hitz is based in the heart of the Croydon estates, targeting young people at risk of social exclusion and anti social behaviour. The Hitz programme targets some of the most disadvantaged areas in London with plans to expand across the country.
Before the launch of Hitz in Croydon, many youngsters felt disaffected and had little to do with their spare time, since working with the coaches and players of London Irish Rugby Club it has given young people a channel to vent their energy and enthusiasm.
The programme is attended by male and female teenagers from Croydon and the surrounding areas. All were keen to express that the rioting in Croydon was carried out by a small minority and these few did not represent their generation as a whole.
The young people that take part did not attend the riots as many of their peers did. One 16 year old participant said: “Young people from round my area all get tarred with the same brush. We are not all like them. Their behaviour was idiotic and now people think worse of us than before. We just want people to give us a chance like Hitz and we will take it.”
Dave Christie, Hitz Project Officer at London Irish Rugby Club who looks after the boroughs of Croydon, Lambeth and Southwark said: “The Hitz project really gives the young people something positive to do with their free time. With the ethos and nature of rugby, it instils discipline and is socially inclusive; it really is a game that has a place for everyone.
“This year our focus is to recruit young people by using a combination of school visits, taster sessions, youth websites and flyering on local housing estates to try and give as many youngsters the opportunity to get involved. In the last two months we have delivered over 100 hours of activities in the community, several of our young people have gone on to join the local junior rugby clubs and in September we took 60 young people to Twickenham to watch the London Double Header.
“The plans for this area do not stop there. In this next term HITZ will be delivering a Rugby Ready coaching course, an ASDAN qualification in rugby and will be conducting workshops in personal safety, sexual health and substance misuse for all of the regular participants.”
Jonathan Joseph, new Hitz ambassador, expresses his interest in the project. “I heard a lot about the project last year from Topsy Ojo when he was the Hitz ambassador and expressed my interest to Dave about getting involved. The project reaches children through my passion, rugby, so I understand the benefits the game can have on a young person. I am looking forward to meeting the teenagers involved in the project and working alongside Dave.”