Staff at Grafham Grange School have raised over £300 to help one of their students join his team mates on rugby tour to Barcelona next year. Malakai, aged 15 describes the tour as a ‘once in a lifetime opportunity’ to join his teammates who have become family to him since he started playing rugby at Staines RFC.
Malakai says rugby has helped him turn his life around, “Rugby is helping me keep healthy both mentally and physically,” he says. “I go to the gym to work out most days and have lost over 30kg since taking up the sport in February this year. It also helps me with anger management too because I can put all my aggression into a tackle.”
We have noticed a marked improvement in Malakai since he started playing rugby. “The coaches are doing so much more than coaching rugby for Malakai,” says Robin Bertrand, principal of Grafham Grange School. “Before he joined the rugby team, his attendance at school was poor, but we have seen a huge improvement in his engagement with school which is fantastic.”
When staff at the school heard Malakai might not be able to raise the funds to join his team on tour to Spain, they organised fundraising activities to help him on his way.
The team need to raise over £5,000 so that all 20 players can join the 4-day trip which will see them playing a local rugby team but also relaxing and enjoying fun activities in Spain’s second city.
“Going on tour is a rite of passage for these young rugby players before they move into the Colts (16–18-year-old) age group next year,” says Coach Paddy O’Rourke. “It’s about bonding between teammates and giving the boys, many of whom come from a disadvantaged background, an experience of a lifetime.”
For Malakai and some of his team mates the rugby tour will be their first trip abroad and they are planning several fundraising activities over the next few months, including a sponsored cycle ride on exercise bikes, to enable them to make the most of their time in Spain. Team spirits are high, which is translating to success on the field, having been promoted two years in a row. They are keen to use the tour and the fundraising activities leading up to it, to help build an even stronger team.
According to Paddy the tour is about more than rugby, “It is about forming lifelong bonds. Malakai has found he has a lot in common with some of his team mates.”
Malakai, agrees with his coach and says playing rugby has helped him in so many ways beyond his fitness, “When you don’t have a lot of people to talk to at home, it can be difficult. But while we’re getting ready for training I chat with the other players and they ask how your day’s been and it is a let out for your problems.”
This once in a lifetime opportunity, also seems to be helping Malakai turn his life around as he hopes to emulate his heroes Jason Robinson and Manu Tuilagi on the pitch.
For more information or to make a donation to the U16s Staines RFC Tour fund please see the link below
Go Fund Me Fundraising page for rugby tour