Rugby League’s leaders of tomorrow are invited to apply for a new educational bursary designed to support inspirational young people in the sport.
The Rugby Football League in partnership with the Rugby League Benevolent Fund are making an annual fund of £10,000 available to be awarded to young leaders, the Matt King Educational Bursary.
Named in memory of Matt King OBE, a former London Broncos Academy player who went on to be an inspirational presence in the sport after suffering a serious spinal injury, the bursary is open to all young people aged between 16 and 25.
A total of £10,000 will be awarded annually to anyone involved with the sport, at any level, who aspires to invest in themselves and in doing so for the benefit of Rugby League.
The bursary sets out to give enhanced support to those individuals who have suffered recent hardship, or are facing financial adversity, that would otherwise remain a barrier and prevent them from realising their full potential.
The annual fund of £10,000 can be awarded to just one individual or to a number of successful applicants at the discretion of an awarding panel, which will consider all applications.
RFL Chief Executive Ralph Rimmer said: “Matt King was a wonderful role model for all young people, and it is fitting that we are able to the impact he made with this bursary and we are grateful to the generous benefactors who have made this possible.
“There is an incredible amount of talent running through the young people in our communities and the Matt King Educational Bursary will enable some of them to realise their full potential.
“Matt was at his most powerful when he stopped playing Rugby League and to celebrate his influence, the Matt King Education Bursary will be a lasting legacy of a truly inspirational young man.”
Matt’s inspirational life ended in February 2021 after a prolonged stay in hospital caused by complications brought on by the serious spinal injury suffered on his Broncos Academy debut in 2004. He was 33.
Despite being paralysed from the neck down and unable to breathe independently after his injury, Matt went on to achieve a first-class honours degree in law, secure a role as in-house lawyer with the Williams Formula 1 team, to build a career as a motivational speaker and to become a father to two daughters.
Matt and his family were supported by the RL Benevolent Fund, which was established as a direct consequence of Matt’s injury. The Fund has since gone on to raise and distribute millions of pounds to people who have suffered life-changing injuries playing Rugby League.
Speaking in an interview with RFL President Clare Balding, Matt’s father, Chris King, who will sit on the awarding panel, said: “Education was everything to Matthew, he was always good academically and could turn his hand to any subject and be very good at it.
“Everything he achieved was underpinned by education: when he wasn’t playing sport, he was hitting the books.
“The bursary will hopefully enable other young people to follow in Matthew’s footsteps by helping underpin their educational journey.
“It’s a wonderful example of education and sport working together, and we are looking forward to receiving applications from young people in communities across the UK wherever Rugby League is played.”
To be considered for the bursary, applicants must demonstrate that the skills, education and qualifications they gain will directly benefit both themselves and their role within Rugby League, whilst also being of value to any Rugby League organisation they represent, as well as the wider sport in general.
Full details of the Matt King Educational Bursary, including a formal application form, can be found here