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An interview with RugbyBootBank® founder Matt Mitchell

We ask what's important to him and to RugbyBootBank®...

March 2022:   In late 2019 and during Covid19 lockdown in 2020, whilst 'on furlough' from his full time job at Wooden Spoon, RugbyBootBank's founder Matt Mitchell had time to reflect on what was important to him and what he could do to make a difference.   With abundant time to think and put thoughts into action he formulated an idea that would save parents of rugby players a few pennies and help ensure that the cost of a pair of boots was not a barrier to playing the game his Father had introduced him to many years earlier. 

 

" I had a bagful of rugby kit in the boot of my car which I had collected over many years as a coach at my local club - I quickly became known as the 'go-to' man in the junior section when parents realised their child could no longer squeeze into the expensive training top they had brought at the start of the season.   I was always being asked for boots".

Talking to Matt at his home in Kent sitting in his modest front room surrounded by a few boxes of boots ready to be sorted into sizes and stored in his garage, he explains how he has coached rugby since he was 20 years old (now 50) and how working as a Rugby Development Officer for the RFU (England Rugby) he saw first hand some of the hardships faced by families in deprived inner city and rural areas.   Now married with two teenage boys himself, he appreciates the expenses that might prevent others from enjoying the benefits of rugby.

For Matt the benefits of rugby go beyond playing and enjoying the game on the pitch...

"Coaching rugby to young people is not about showing them how to: run, pass, tackle, ruck and maul; it's about introducing young people to a game which is a gift.   The rugby community is a world wide classless network of friends and opportunities.   It is not an old school network for public school boys (although it may have been once upon a time) ANYONE can get involved, play and enjoy rugby regardless of: size, weight, gender, faith, but at the start of the journey everyone needs a 'leg up'.   When you realise how you can become part of a team and bond with teammates you have the key to the world".

Through his passion for rugby, Matt has travelled the world and made rugby friends in some of the most unusual places.   In April 2019 he helped lead a Wooden Spoon team to set a Guinness World Record for the highest game of rugby.   The team played in Tibet at Advanced Base Camp at 6,322 metres on the side of Mt. Everest, just over a kilometre from the summit (he is also part of a squad of 46 men who hold the world record for the longest game of rugby at 33 hours).   He claims not to be an environmentalist, but his account of the human waste evident at Advanced Base Camp and the accounts he describes of Sherpas' explaining the year on year retreat of glaciers in the Rombuk Valley suggests that he has sympathy for the cause.

In his early 20s, with boots in hand, he turned up at a training session in Portland, Maine and soon found himself living and working with people with a mutual love of the game, playing teams in Vermont, New Hampshire and the Eastern States.   Years later he returned with nearly 40 members of his home team to tour the same clubs in New England, the final game being in Portland - with and against his life long friends and former hosts and he is still in touch with them today.

"Rugby has been an ever present part of my very lucky life... I owe the game a debt of gratitude - which I'm happy to pay forward.   Coaching young players helps me pass on the gift.   RugbyBootBank® also helps others to receive the opportunity to play rugby".    

KO GWR Highest Game of Rugby
Coach and Team

With Matt's outlook it is easy to see the motivation behind setting up RugbyBootBank®, as he says, "I'm just passing on the gift".   The fact is that recycling boots is a small but important factor in the wider scheme of the operation.   Compostable bags are used for all boot deliveries and even unusable boots have their studs and laces removed and saved to repair the range of donated boots in the garage.

 

The small team of volunteers at RugbyBootBank® (including Matt's wife Nicola) is/are equally passionate about ensuring the cost of a pair of boots is not an obstacle to playing rugby - helping players of all ages to take either the first step into the game or to move forward and enjoy the lasting friendship rugby provides - RugbyBootBank® has got your back.

#NoBoots   #NoBarrier

RugbyBootBank® is a not for profit organisation run entirely by volunteers.   

Donations and sponsorship to help meet the modest running costs are most welcome.   

For more information email rugbybootbank@gmail.com 

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