By Joe Ogden
Opened in 2014 and based at the foot of Grenfell Tower, the fire last year saw the entire school relocated to a temporary site a mile away.
Eight months on and it’s hard not to be inspired by the way everyone at the school has responded, and on a cold Monday night after school in February one of the amazing projects to have come out of the relocation is on display.
“We decided to introduce rugby in September as part of an effort to give the kids a variety of new sports to try,” says KAA’s Head of PE Louise Thompson, as 30 students ranging from year seven to 11 are led in a training session by England Sevens player Charlie Hayter and his Academy teammates.
“The year 10 boys were the first to give it a go and loved it and since then the girls have really got into it too. We’re now spreading it across the entire school and building up to our first competitive matches.”
Hayter got in touch with Thompson after hearing about the school and offered to come in and coach the new rugby recruits.
“Sport is a great vehicle to help support children through difficult periods and to see so many pupils playing and enjoying rugby for the first time is fantastic,” he says.
The enthusiasm for rugby at KAA is epitomised by 11-yearold year seven pupil Ahmed Bashir who proudly introduces himself as the vice-captain of the rugby team.
“I’d never played rugby before, I didn’t know anything about it. I had only heard of the word,” says Bashir. “My teacher said I should go along and I love it now.”
Asked what his favourite thing about the sport is, Bashir takes some time to think. “The cooperation,” comes his reply, “I like working together as a team.”
Cooperation has been the key word in helping get the sport off the ground at KAA.The duo of Thompson and her colleague Thomas Walshe have been the driving force behind rugby’s introduction and both are clearly grateful for Hayter paying a visit to coach as well as donating kit and equipment.
“It has been great to have Charlie and all the players here,” said Thompson.”The kids absolutely loved their session and I think it’s really important for them to meet role models like these players.”
If the enthusiasm and energy shown on a winter’s night in February is anything to go by KAA are at the start of a very special rugby journey.
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