22 May 13
See how the Etihad Airways', Fly With The Best, Train With The Best competition winners got on at their exclusive behind the scenes training day at Harlequins' training ground
Johnson questions the suitability of football for the majority of English youngsters, and empathises with their inevitable frustration. His solution is to 'do the obvious thing and issue them with oval balls'.
It has been said many times that rugby helps individuals to let off steam, and is a great way to encourage social interaction. In Johnson's words, 'Rugby sublimates your aggression, while football can simply bottle it up.'
Some of you may already know about the great work that the Hitz project does, which is funded and delivered by Premiership Rugby, the Mayor of London's Sports Participation Fund, the RFU, RFF, Wooden Spoon, Active Communities Network and the Metropolitan Police. Hitz is a progressive, high-profile programme based in the heart of inner city estates and targeting young people at risk of exclusion from school and anti-social behaviour. The programme introduces them, often for the first time, to tag, touch and contact rugby. It aims to reduce crime and anti-social behaviour, break down barriers which exist between communities, provide opportunities to support the participants back into education or employment, increase participation in rugby and encourage good relations between individuals regardless of their backgrounds.
Charlie Pettit has been involved in the Hitz project for 18 months. Based at Harlequins, he works in the Hounslow and Ealing boroughs, and is aided at the sessions by around 6 staff.
The children and young people range in age from 11-19 years.
They learn discipline and respect and build new friendships, but most of all they enjoy themselves.
"The Hitz programme has allowed Harlequins Community Team to engage with a new sector of players and potential supporters from both Ealing and Hounslow Boroughs. Whilst we work in traditional rugby territories throughout the south east, it's especially rewarding to work so closely with our very local community. As a club we believe this is vital towards the sustainability and, indeed, growth of our great club. Charlie has made a great impact locally and we look forward to developing the Hitz programme further in the months ahead." Richard Varney, Head of Community.