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Dawda Darboe shortlisted for HITZ Physical Activity Award 2021

An inspirational young man from the Community Foundation’s HITZ programme has been shortlisted for the Physical Activity accolade at this year’s HITZ Awards.   

Dawda Darboe has been named as alongside Lion McDonald of Gloucester Rugby and Jack Gollop of Exeter Chiefs were selected in a very competitive field.  

Dawda, who returned from Gambia aged 15 after both of his parents passed away, joined HITZ in March 2018.  Until he joined HITZ, he was not in education, and was a shy individual struggling with isolation and lack of confidence. 

Dawda ran regularly to support his mental health in a positive way, and always wanted to participate in other sports but could never afford to. HITZ provided an opportunity to try rugby, which helped turn his life around. He joined his local club Avonmouth RFC where he was voted ‘Most improved Player’ in May 2021. HITZ also helped Dawda gain work experience and qualifications despite the pandemic, resulting in a full-time role as an IT apprentice at Molson.

HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s flagship education and employability programme, working with over 2,000 14-to-23-year-olds across England every year with the support of the CVC Foundation and Wooden Spoon, and delivered with official education partner SCL Education Group.

HITZ is often the first time some young people have tried a new sport or been active for a long time. HITZ Physical Activity Award recognises a young person for their progress and development in sport and physical activity, rewarding progress in both their physical fitness and in living a healthier lifestyle. It also looks at how being active has supported them to overcome a range of challenges and progress on their journey back to education, training or employment.

Nominees have not just developed personally but also gone above and beyond to help other HITZ learners get active too. For example, they may have helped lead virtual workouts during lockdown, or set up an after HITZ running group.  

Wayne Morris, Premiership Rugby’s Community and Corporate Responsibility Director spoke highly of all three nominees and underlined just how hard it was to reduce the list to only three candidates.  

He said: “It was an incredibly strong pool of applications; it was a very lengthy debate between the judges to be able to narrow it down to a shortlist of three and our eventual winner.

“Through HITZ, all three found the sport that we all love. They have embraced the core values of rugby, using them to move forward positively in life. They are all an embodiment of how rugby can change lives for the better.

“What we’ve really seen over the last two years with Covid, and other challenges, is how important physical activity is in terms of improving people’s lives and life opportunities, not just through their physical health but also their mental wellbeing.”

HITZ is Premiership Rugby’s flagship employability and education programme, supporting young people to make positive changes in their life. Working with more than 2,000 14-23 year-olds across England every year, the programme uses rugby’s core values to develop the personal, life and employability skills of young people not in education, employment or training (NEET).  Supported by the CVC Foundation and Wooden Spoon, and delivered with official education partner SCL Education Group, HITZ is delivered nationally by Premiership Rugby’s 13 shareholder clubs and has supported nearly 20,000 young people since it started in 2008.


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