In the News - Richard Bennett

2nd April 2010 at 01:00

Who is he?

Richard Bennett, 27, teaches design and technology and physics at Dean Close School in Cheltenham. After teaching for three years, he is giving it all up to put his efforts into creating a "sustainable rugby legacy".

It's a bit of a mouthful. What's it about?

"I am creating a team that will travel 15,000 miles from Cheltenham to Cape Town, coaching rugby to underprivileged children in 10 African countries. It is a five-month expedition, stopping off in schools for five days at a time. We will meet the youngsters and their coach and use rugby as a tool to address social issues."

How did this come about?

"I'm from South Africa. I moved to Britain in 1996 and threw myself into education. As time has gone on, I've wanted to combine my passion for Africa and link it to teaching and coaching to unite youngsters and communities."

Why rugby?

"I'm a massive fan. The sport has many core values: respect, teamwork, leadership. It can be used to bring together children from all backgrounds. In terms of teamwork and camaraderie, it has more to offer than football."

Does your team agree?

"I haven't got it yet. I want to take six people, aged 21-35, who are dedicated, enthusiastic and motivated. In May, I'm holding an assessment day where I will choose the final candidates from a group of applicants whittled down to 20 or 30 people. It's going to be tight; we're travelling for five months, so the tourist side is going to be minimal. Our focus is on schools."

You're a one-man team then?

"I have a lot of people on board and organisations, such as Plan UK, Link Ethiopia and Tour Aid that are supporting me; I'm relying on corporate sponsorship. I want to create sustainable long-standing links. When I return to the UK, I will visit those schools that have linked up and show them videos to improve strategies to help the African schools."

Is this a long-term initiative?

"Yes. It can be expanded from rugby to any sport, such as Tennis for Africa (non-profit charity which helps African children through sports and other events). There are a lot of aspects to develop, but my focus is getting it right first time, which is why I finish teaching this summer. I will miss the kids at school; they have such a vibrant enthusiastic approach in life - it is they who have given me enthusiasm to do this now. I live for this project."

www.rugbyinafrica.org.

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