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Trio Recall Grassroots Memories To Support Aviva Community Fund

Bristol Rugby stars have been rolling back the years, dusting off their old childhood memorabilia and reminiscing about their first grassroots amateur sports clubs in support of this year’s Aviva Community Fund.

Jack Lam, Tom Varndell and Jordan Crane have shared memories of their earlier years and former clubs, dug out old images and club jerseys, and explained just how important grassroots clubs are for kids growing up and the local community.

The Aviva Community Fund, a nationwide initiative that lends a helping hand to grassroots sports clubs and community causes, has reopened for a second year to offer funding of between £1,000 and £25,000.

This year, Aviva, the proud title sponsor of Aviva Premiership Rugby, has introduced a ‘Sport in the Community’ category, which means the hundreds of thousands of grassroots sports clubs across the UK can apply or reapply for funding in a sport-specific category this time around. The closing date for applications is 12 noon on 11th October.

Crane, who first started playing rugby at Colston’s School said: “Like with any sport, it’s about getting out there and playing. I grew up playing football and only really took up rugby when I was 14 but it’s about getting kids out of the house and playing any sport. It’s great to get them out, running and enjoying things. Team sports especially give you life skills as well, which is fantastic, and you make lifelong friends. Any sport, not just rugby, is great for there to be as much funding as possible. I came off an estate where we were playing football every single night, playing for my team every Saturday and Sunday, then playing for my school during the week – my whole life was built around team sports. It really does help you grow as a person and gives you something to look forward to.”

Varndell started at Chinnor RFC and is a big supporter of amateur sport: “Grassroots is where the future stars of the sport come from. Kids start at mini-rugby level, then they progress and learn to love the game. It’s where kids decide if they want to try to make a career out of rugby if they’re good enough, or just play for fun. The basic foundation of rugby is enjoyment, learning to work with other people and team spirit – it all begins at grassroots level. It was so enjoyable playing rugby when I was younger and that has continued. It was why I wanted to do rugby as a job. I’m lucky enough to do it as a job because it’s all about running around and having fun. I still get the same feelings as when I started at under-9s and under-10s level – that enjoyment, excitement about pulling on the shirt, the matchday experience and training day-in and day-out. Whether you make it as a professional or not, everyone should be able to enjoy it – whatever sport they choose. It starts at grassroots level and that’s what inspires people to continue as an adult.”

Lam’s first club was in Australia and he recalls: “My memories of youth rugby are definitely happy ones. I still go back to my club now and then and try to play in a couple of club games from time to time. The set-up is slightly different in Australia and New Zealand, but I’ve got massive memories of playing alongside other guys who have made it professionally as well which makes it all the more special. It’s all about building a community and rugby clubs are great for that. Funding can only help the clubs provide the facilities that the kids need to take up the sport. The clubs need certain things to function, so that the kids can enjoy themselves at the weekend and funds like this are great for helping with that.”

Pete Markey, Brand & Marketing Communications Director at Aviva UK, said: “The Aviva Community Fund is the perfect way for Aviva to help communities come together and support the grassroots sports clubs and local causes that are central to a strong community. Last year, the Aviva Community Fund helped make a difference to hundreds of projects and causes the length and the breadth of the UK and we look forward to helping even more communities this year.”

To enter your club for a chance to secure funding, visit aviva.co.uk/community-fund or search for ‘Aviva Community Fund’.

 

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