Game Changers 2014 concluded this week following an entertaining rugby match on Saturday which saw the Game Changers students draw 29-29 with Drifters Under-14s at Richmond Athletic Ground.
The match was contested in sunny conditions with both sides playing great rugby throughout and it was fitting the match ended in a draw.
Game Changers coach Simon Bottomley was delighted the seven weeks of practice leading up to Saturday’s match paid off, as parents and friends of the students watched on
He said: “There was crunching tackles and length of the field tries and the match was played in a great spirit.
“If someone had really crunched these boys in a tackle at the start of this programme they would probably have got up and given them a whack round the head.
“But at the weekend they were picking opponents off the ground and congratulating them on their tackling.
“That’s a massive behavioural change and it was also great to see parents come along to watch the boys enjoying a game of rugby.
“We have brought 20 new kids into rugby union who all seem willing to continue playing after Game Changers 2014, which is fantastic.”
On Tuesday, students gathered at the Athletic Ground for the final practical Game Changers session of the year where they were asked to write down key messages which they would take away from this year’s programme.
Bottomley added: “Some of the students completely filled their Post-it notes whilst others wrote down just a couple, but equally telling, words.
“When you read some of them it is very humbling.
“We had one boy who wrote he was going to stay away from bad things such as cigarettes, gangs and knives.
“Another admitted he still had choices to make but now knew the people he needed to avoid at school to move on positively from this programme.
“So you can see that over the eight weeks we have made a difference to young people’s lives.
“They are questioning their behaviours, their understanding of why they are on this course and what they have gained from it.
“It was a great closure day to get these values out of them, something we have tried to instil into them over the past two months.”
– Game Changers is a joint Deutsche Bank and London Scottish community-focused programme which combines education and rugby to make a real impact on young people's lives.
2014 is the second year of this initiative and over an eight-week period, 25 students most at risk of exclusion from school will use rugby as a vehicle to drive behavioural change through a comprehensive sports education program.