Non-profit academy will level field for young rugby players
By Sarah Wood
A Hartpury University student is helping young state-educated rugby players realise their potential.
George Paul, a third-year BA (Hons) Sports Business Management student at Hartpury University, co-founded the non-profit AdviceAcademy, which has just hosted its first free-to-attend three-day camp at Drybrook RFC.
AdviceAcademy offers training camps, as well as help and support across several areas, including strength and conditioning, nutrition and mental health. The organisation aims to break down barriers and ultimately widen inclusivity in the sport.
Both George and his business partner, Will Jones, who is studying physiotherapy at the University of East Anglia, believe a rugby player's journey into elite sport shouldn't be affected by their academic and socio-economic background.
This week's camp was sponsored by Freemans Event Partners, providing an inclusive and engaging environment for 37 state-educated rugby players, aged 14 to 16. Attendees were given nine meals during the camp, six on-field strength and conditioning sessions, five rugby sessions, two gym sessions and professional player visits.
Hartpury staff and students worked at the camp alongside other industry professionals. Canterbury NZ provided a full kit investment for players and coaches.
George was a former finalist in Hartpury's Dragons Den-style Enterprise Finals. As part of the Enterprise Finals, George won a share of the £6,000 award fund and mentoring from Ian Renouf-Watkins of Renouf Wealth Management.
George Paul said: "We set up AdviceAcademy in 2020, after noticing just how much talent was going unnoticed among rugby players who weren't involved with academy structures or fee-paying schools. We decided to set up as a community interest company, allowing us to start the important work of ensuring equal opportunities for all players.
"Our camp mimics an elite environment for these state-educated rugby players who wouldn't normally get the opportunity."
Thomas Legge, associate head of sport at Hartpury University, said: "We're incredibly proud of George and the work he's put into establishing AdviceAcademy. This is an outstanding example of an individual that's applying their entrepreneurial spirit in a philanthropical way to make a difference in a sport that he cares so passionately about. The first AdviceAcademy camp was an incredible success.
"We aim to encourage all our sports business management students to pursue their entrepreneurial and community-led ambitions, aiming to support them through things like the Sports Business Hub that links students with industry partners for key real-world projects. We also work closely with business to formulate degrees at undergraduate and postgraduate level that remain fit for purpose and aligned with the current needs of business."
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