Saturday, 28 November 2020

Rugby coach reminded of home by Hawks tops

IMAGINE the surprise when Will Ferguson arrived to take a rugby coaching session in Nairobi and was faced with a

IMAGINE the surprise when Will Ferguson arrived to take a rugby coaching session in Nairobi and was faced with a team in Henley Hawks shirts.

Will is based in Kenya as his wife works for the United Nations Development Programme and he has been helping the young Africans get into the sport.

He arrived in December 2011 with 45 rugby balls, 14 contact shields and some rugby tops donated by the Oratory School in Woodcote and has been kept very busy even since.

Will says: “I was put in touch with a local Kenyan called Erick Situma, who has four caps for Kenya at full-back and used to work for the Rugby Football Union.

“He now helps coach two groups of children — 200 in total — from two big slums in Nairobi, Kibera and Muthare. He has also brought five groups of under-13s to the UK to play rugby and stay with English schools, supported by Touraid.”

A Kenyan who was educated in England and fell in love with rugby pays for eight coaches to teach the children and holds a tournament every few months at the national rugby stadium.

Guest teams are invited to bring their children along to play.

Will says: “It’s nice to play on grass as in Muthare it is a tatty dirt pitch.

“One of the guest teams from Impala RFC was wearing canary yellow tops and on closer inspection I was surprised to see they were Henley Hawks tops.”

Will took a photograph of the boys and sent it to his father, Peter, who used to be a pack leader for the Hawks in the Seventies.

He said: “The kids looked fantastic in their shiny tops and they played really well at the tournament.

“The children and the coaches are very thankful for these kind donations and they will go a long way in helping disadvantaged children learn the art of rugby and the life skills the noble game teaches children.”

Will played rugby for Abingdon school but a serious knee injury during his first training session at Sunderland University cut his career short.

He then trained as a physiotherapist and followed the lead of his father, who started rugby coaching in the Niger Delta and Sierra Leone.

Peter, who lives in Whitchurch, said: “He would have been a great rugby player, I am sure of that.

“I go out to Kenya quite a bit myself. I started doing this and Will followed my idea.”

Noel Armstead, president of Henley Rugby Club, tells me he thinks the Hawks shirts were donated by the Hawks’ minis and junior sections.

If you would like to donate second-hand rugby kit to the children in Kenya, you can email Peter Ferguson at peterf@fergie.me.uk

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