Former All Black Sean Fitzpatrick visited Springboard last month.
Springboard’s pilot boxing programme has caught the attention of international sporting organisation Laureus.
It has received a grant from the Laureus Sport for Good fund to continue to build up its boxing classes in Snells Beach and at Mahurangi College for at-risk youth.
Laureus chairman and former All Black captain, Sean Fitzpatrick, says he has been looking for a project in New Zealand for some time.
He believes that boxing can be a powerful mechanism for positive change in a young person’s life.
“Boxing is not about scrapping – it teaches discipline and gets kids off the street and into classrooms,” Sean says.
Although based in London, Sean lives part of the year in his house in Whangaparaoa.
“I was brought up in Auckland, so I know how difficult it is for youth. Springboard is a classic example of what we are trying to achieve by changing kids’ lives with sport.”
Springboard director Gary Diprose says it is “massive” that a global organisation supporting vulnerable youth around the world has taken notice.
“They can share knowledge on how they do things around the world, and we can share our
story with them,” Gary says.
He says having Sean as an ambassador for Springboard will also inspire local young people.
“It’s not about producing champion boxers, it’s about building champion people,” Gary says.
Sean says that Laureus has provided funding for other boxing programmes around the world that have proved successful.
“In the favelas of Rio de Janeiro, we brought two warring families together by setting up a community ring. In West Belfast, the children of Protestants and Catholics, who had been taught to hate each other, broke down their differences through boxing.”
Sean says other projects around the world include a couple in India which are providing education to girls who would otherwise have been child brides at 10.
“They set up a girls football team, which was controversial but it got them into the classrooms. Now there are no child brides in that village.”
Sean was one of the founders of Laureus in 2000 and was voted as chairman for the global organisation six years ago.
Laureus is involved in 200 projects across 45 countries and has raised more than €20 million.