As the Six Nations gathers pace towards an exciting finale, C4C’s Mike Henderson is a highlighted success in Robert Kitson’s, of The Guardian, article published on Sat. 1st March 2014, which discusses Sky’s fly on the wall programme, ‘School of Hard Knocks’.
The following is an extract from that aforementioned arrticle:
“It is the latest lesson from the School of Hard Knocks, the unique collision of rugby union, fly-on-the-wall television documentary and disadvantaged young adults which should be compulsory viewing in all middle-class households when its seventh series starts on Sky in September………..
…..Michael Henderson, a grateful graduate from the 2010 Croydon edition and now a mentor himself after spending 25 years in and out of prison, reckons the programme saved him from oblivion. “My life now is so far removed from the life I had. Being involved was such an empowering and positive experience.” England versus Wales, even the Six Nations itself, suddenly feels like a parallel universe.
The 43-year-old Henderson, who was first incarcerated at 14, also feels rugby has intrinsic qualities other sports cannot offer. “The football culture is all about gold and glory: I want to be the next Messi, I want a million-pound pay cheque. The difference in rugby is that it’s not a one-man show.
“The other day I visited Isis young offenders prison (next door to HMP Belmarsh in south-east London) where we had governors and prisoners playing against each other. We find rugby brings people together. There was no ‘I’m going to get you, I’m going to hurt you’. It was just epic.”
Epic, certainly, but how about the wider picture? While no one is expecting rugby to conquer every big conurbation overnight, next year’s Rugby World Cup will spread the gospel. The inspirational Henderson reckons there is a large untapped audience out there. “A lot of young people have a misconceived perception of rugby. When they actually get playing it they go: ‘Wow.’
“We work with schools which are marginalised, disaffected and disadvantaged. Initially many of the students didn’t want to play. Now, two years on, they’re embracing it and playing regularly because it allows them to channel negative energy in a positive way. For me, not enough people are informed about the benefits of rugby.”
The moral of the story? There is a lot more to life than the Six Nations”. The full artcicle by The Gurdian’s Robert Kitson can be found here.
Mike Henderson works on our Dallaglio Foundation Rugby for Change programme.