On GCSE results day in August 2017, 16-year-old Jade was overcome with disappointment, passing just one GCSE. Finding out her results was the culmination of a school life that she’d rather forget. Low in self-confidence and regularly skipping lessons, Jade was an introvert at school who just didn’t enjoy the experience. Now, with disappointing results, she was unsure of where to turn next and what her future entailed.
On results day, she met a coach from the Bath Rugby Foundation, the charity of local Premiership Rugby club Bath Rugby. The coach informed her of HITZ, an education and employability programme by Premiership Rugby which supports 16-24-year-olds not in education, training or employment (NEET).
The programme allows young people who may have fallen out of the education system, like Jade, or have had a troubled upbringing, to use sport as an inspiration to gain valuable qualifications and work experience to get their lives back on track.
By September, Jade had enrolled in Bath Rugby’s HITZ programme and as well as committing to personal self-development, set about earning the English qualification she wanted. Having never played rugby before, HITZ also gave her a chance to try the sport and help form new friendships alongside her academic studies through the HITZ Learning Academy.
Quickly, Jade emerged as a real leader in her HITZ group, visibly growing in confidence and helping inspire others to progress and work hard. Complementing HITZ, she volunteered with the Bath Rugby Foundation before progressing to helping with mixed-ability rugby training sessions with local grassroots club Walcott Warriors.
Initially, Jade was shy, lacked confidence and did not put herself forward, but through volunteering her whole attitude to different scenarios completely changed, with new-found self-confidence. Through the sessions at Walcott Warriors, Jade met players from Bath Rugby Ladies, who invited her to training, and she is now signed up to play for the team.
Her new-found confidence translated into the classroom as she achieved her English qualification. Following her volunteering efforts, she has now been awarded a rugby coaching apprenticeship at the Bath Rugby Foundation, coaching future participants on the HITZ programme and wider Bath mixed-ability community teams.
Jade’s one-year transformation was commended by Premiership Rugby, she was crowned the winner of the Rugby Ambassador Award, supported by Land Rover, at the 2018 HITZ Awards.
“The award has inspired me to work even harder and I now know that I can actually go somewhere in life. I’ve gone from being a kid with one GCSE from school to now being in the limelight with rugby, which feels amazing” said Jade.