A THREE-TIME Paralympian has thrown his support behind a project teaching Coventry and Warwickshire’s young people life values through the game of rugby.
Former Great Britain wheelchair rugby player Mandip Sehmi, from Leamington, has been named as an ambassador of Coventry Sports Foundation’s Engage! programme.
Using a combination of classroom and rugby activities, the initiative educates primary school children about rugby’s core values – which include teamwork, respect, integrity, enjoyment and discipline – as a way of developing well-rounded young people.
The 36-year-old’s addition to the project is another boost for Coventry’s City of Rugby project, which is a city-led programme aiming to inspire youngsters to take up the sport as it looks to make Coventry a world leader in rugby by 2023 – rugby’s 200th anniversary.
Mandip has more than 15 years of experience playing wheelchair rugby after being introduced to the sport while recovering from a life-changing car accident in 2000, which left him with a permanent spinal cord injury.
While playing wheelchair rugby as part of his rehabilitation, Mandip was scouted for the Great Britain Development Squad and has gone on to represent his country at Beijing in 2008, London 2012 and Rio 2016.
The ambassadorial role will see Mandip visiting primary schools as part of the Engage! Values Programme to give talks on life values and his own personal journey, attending city-wide events and exploring the formation of a city-wide wheelchair rugby team.
He said: “Rugby has made such a massive difference to my life and helped me to overcome personal adversity, that I want other people to know that with the right attitude they can achieve whatever they want to be.
“Out of all the sports and activities I took part in during my rehabilitation, wheelchair rugby was by far the best for me. It was so rewarding and I quickly realised the strength and confidence I was developing from being part of a team.
“What the Engage! programme and City of Rugby initiatives are trying to do resonates with me and I’m really looking forward to helping inspire other people to take up sport, whatever their circumstances.”
Tom Clift, programme manager at Engage!, believes Mandip is perfectly placed to help inspire the next generation of sportspeople.
He added: “Mandip’s story is a truly inspirational one that touches on all of the values we are promoting amongst the city’s young people so, when the opportunity came up to work with him, it was a no-brainer.
“It’s important for the children to have real-life examples of how far you can go in life if you apply yourself correctly and we think Mandip is the perfect role model for others to focus on and look up to.”
For more information about the Engage! Values Programme and to book on for the 2017/18 academic year, visit www.engagecoventry.com.