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Sport helped save me… it changes lives, says rugby’s Jason Robinson as he helps launch The Sun’s Activity For All Fund

RUGBY legend Jason Robinson went back to school this week to help launch The Sun’s Activity For All Fund.

The World Cup winner returned to his old primary in Leeds, where he told an eager bunch of nine-year-olds how sport transformed his life.

Glen Minikin
Rugby legend Jason Robinson returned to Park View Academy school in Leeds[/caption]
Glen Minikin
The star has led training sessions for the Jason Robinson Foundation which has received a donation from Tesco[/caption]

The 49-year-old retired winger now runs the Jason Robinson Foundation to provide free access to sport in disadvantaged areas.

He said: “If I can come from a council estate in one of the most deprived areas of the UK and go on to win the World Cup, imagine how many other young people can achieve great things given the right opportunities and nurture.”

During his session at Park View Primary Academy he also helped launch our Activity For All campaign.

Jason told how his foundation would be applying for one of the 150 £1,000 grants to help with running a multi-sport summer camp.

He added: “We’d really encourage other clubs to do the same and make the most of this fantastic initiative. I know just how much sport can change lives.”

The Jason Robinson Foundation teaches young people life skills and provides training and mentors.

Its sessions are free, to ensure anyone can fall in love with sport.

Coming from the deprived inner city Leeds area of Harehills, Jason, England’s first black rugby union captain, knows only too well that living in disadvantaged areas does not have to be a barrier to talent shining through.

He dominated rugby league throughout the 1990s before making the switch to rugby union in the 2000s.

And he was delighted to return to the school where he discovered his love for the game.

He told pupils: “I remember the PE teacher here, Mr Aspinall, who had such a massive impact on my life. I could have gone down the wrong path but he thought rugby would be a good way for me to channel energy. I discovered a sport I loved.”

Jason went on to play for local Hunslet Boys Club before joining champions Wigan Warriors in 1991, aged 16.

In 2000, he switched codes to join Sale Sharks and was part of England’s 2003 World Cup-winning rugby union team.

Now he spends his time with his foundation, inspiring schoolchildren.

He said: “I started going into schools about eight years ago and created the foundation a year ago to go into the most deprived areas.

“I want to show them the benefits of all sports — how good it is for you to get outside and get involved with friends — and provide lessons that are engaging, fun and safe.

“We are not looking for the next Jason Robinson, but getting them off the streets with something that’s fun and engaging.

AFP
Jason was apart of England’s 2003 World Cup-winning rugby union team[/caption]

“Right now we are looking for funding to create holiday clubs for kids. We are hoping that a grant from The Sun and Tesco will allow us to do that.”

Park View headteacher Louise Taylor said: “I got in touch with the foundation to see if we could get Jason into the school and it has led to them supplying free sporting sessions for more than six months. It’s the best email I’ve ever sent.”

Coach Kelly Morgan has been going to the school every Tuesday, teaching pupils sports from rugby to tennis and cricket.

And yesterday the children got to meet a genuine rugby hero, even if, as Jason says: “The World Cup was in 2003 and none of these kids were even born then.”

While there, he got stuck in with a game of cricket — and was bowled out by Azhan Khan, nine.

Azhan said: “I play cricket a lot with my dad but here I’ve been learning new tricks, so I think I might be better than him now.”

Classmate Khadijah Mehmood, nine, was chuffed to hear Jason went to the same school as her.

She said: “Of all the sports I’ve played I’d say I like tag rugby the best. It has been a lot of fun.”

PE teacher Rob Crowther added: “The kids say these are the best PE lessons they’ve ever had, and while that’s not great for me, it shows what a brilliant opportunity it is.”

After the sporting fun Jason told the kids: “I came to this school 40 years ago and I was like you. I used to live down the road.

“I started playing rugby pro-fessionally and it has taken me all over the world. I’ve played in three World Cup finals and I’m still the only man in England to score a try in a World Cup final.”

But maybe he has lost his touch a little because in a final race with 28 children, he only managed to come fifth.

Clearly still competitive, he joked: “That’s the first time I’ve lost.”

Getty
Robinson in action in the 2003 World Cup[/caption]

How to apply for a grant

WE want to hear about YOUR club and the huge difference it makes for kids in your community.

If you are a not-for-profit, grassroots sports club in England, Wales or Scotland, working with youngsters under the age of 18, you could be eligible for one of our 150 grants.

Funds can be used for anything that gets youngsters into sport.

Your club might need help with pitch fees or want to sponsor places for children from low-income families.

Grants will be made on a rolling basis and applications close on August 5.

To apply and for full terms and conditions, go to the website address below or scan the QR code on the right.

Grab a £1,000 grant for your kids’ club

WITH the school holidays just around the corner, The Sun is launching a brilliant new campaign to keep kids active, healthy and having fun.

Our Activity For All Fund will offer £1,000 grants to 150 not-for-profit grassroots organisations which provide sports activities to youngsters throughout the summer.

It follows on from our groundbreaking Footie For All Fund with Tesco, which has dished out £450,000 of grants to children’s clubs across the country.

We are again teaming up with the Tesco Stronger Starts programme, which funds kids’ access to healthy activities and nutritious food.

Our Activity For All cash can be used in any way that encourages kids to get active and stay healthy in the holidays.

Perhaps you are a team that gives kids their first taste of cricket, or you run basketball camps or multi-sport days.

Maybe you want to fund additional spaces, buy equipment or provide free healthy lunches.

Whatever it is, our grants can help.

And they could not have come at a more important time.

Figures from the charity Sported, which promotes grassroots sport, reveal that funding over the next six months is the biggest concern for 85 per cent of clubs.

Chief executive Sarah Kaye told The Sun: “Grassroots groups not only deliver benefits for physical and mental health, they provide social skills which reduce anti-social behaviour and grow attainment.

“So it’s critical that help is offered so they survive and our next generation is not priced out.”

Claire De Silva, of Tesco, added: “Stronger Starts provides over £5million of funding for schools and groups supporting young people.

“The Activity For All grants will provide food and opportunities to keep youngsters active and happy.”

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