Former England lock and World Cup winner Ben Kay lends a helping hand to encourage public to volunteer in the local community this Christmas

Kay travelled to a disabled riding school to help children who are benefiting from BT Sport's The Supporters' Club by enjoying their physiotherapy

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The Independent Online

For any rugby player, rehabilitation and physiotherapy can be the most testing time of a career. But for some the chance to take part in enjoyable activities and include it as part of your physiotherapy can do nothing but put a smile on your face.

That’s exactly what BT Sport’s charity initiative The Supporters’ Club has set out to do, investing more than £3.3m into projects that help communities get involved in sport.

This Christmas, the TV broadcaster is encouraging people to give up some of their time and volunteer in their local areas. Earlier this week, former England rugby international and 2003 World Cup winner Ben Kay visited a disabled riding school in Yorkshire – and left with an overwhelming sense of enjoyment having spent the day with young children who were learning to ride as part of their physiotherapy.

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“It’s been a great day, to see the smiles on the faces of the children riding on the horses and to get to have a chat with them,” said BT Sport The Supporters’ Club ambassador Kay. “I think the core is that BT Supporters’ Club – which is a charity supported by donations from subscribers – they’re goal is to bring people together through sport and they’ve invested heavily in a number of products, spending £3.3m so far.

 

“It was great to get out and see one of the projects that has benefited and they’re currently building a big riding centre through the grant that The Supporters’ Club has given them.

“There’s a big push not only for people to support the charity through financial means but also to give a bit of their time and get out and assist and be volunteers, so it was me giving my time to go out and do that and I really enjoyed it.”

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Ben Kay in action for England against Argentina in 2002

Kay added that although the experience of getting to know the young children was partly humbling, the sense of happiness that they spread helped demonstrate exactly how sport can help build a community – this time through volunteering to help with local projects.

He added: “Yeah it is [humbling] but I think the great thing about today is at the end I was looking at seven-year-olds with certain disabilities, who haven’t got a clue about rugby or who I was, doing something that counts as their physiotherapy but they don’t see it as physiotherapy.

“They also got to see the animals there and enjoy something that was fun so it’s really important and shows the power of sport. In some respects it was humbling but I think my overriding emotion was enjoyment and I enjoyed the interaction.”

Ben Kay is amongst the BT Sport ambassadors backing a campaign by BT Sport’s The Supporters Club inviting people to pledge their time this Christmas and beyond to charities and sports clubs. People can try something new by pledging their extra time to sports volunteering opportunities in their local area via www.btsport.com/myextratime.

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