A Sport and Exercise Science graduate from Darley Dale is heading for Brazil this week to take part in a ground-breaking year-long Premiership Rugby project.
Chris Keetley, 21, spent this weekend at Twickenham for the start of the Aviva Premiership Rugby season before flying out with 11 other coaches to South America.
Chris, who graduated from the University of Northampton this summer said: “I found out about the project on Twitter and it just seemed like a great opportunity.
“In the long term I would like to be employed in a strength and conditioning coaching role but this will be brilliant for my career development and will also make a real difference to a real community. I will be working in a school in a small city on the outskirts of Sao Paulo.
“It is great to have this chance so soon after graduation and my success is thanks to all my tutors and also the fantastic internship I had with Northampton Saints in my third year.”
Eight of the other coaches came from full or part-time staff at Premiership clubs while Chris is one of four who were recruited independently.
Chris said: “I had an interview last month and then was called back for a week long training camp in Oxford. It has been fairly last minute and I was at the doctors getting jabs sorted out last week but I can’t wait to go and start work.”
Tony Baross, Senior Lecturer in Sports and Exercise at the University of Northampton said: “Chris was a very good student who worked hard both academically and at his chosen sport of rugby. Apart from captaining the University team in his second year he also made the most of a third year internship with Northampton Saints.
“This is an excellent and exciting opportunity for Chris; especially coming so soon after graduation. I am sure he will have a massive positive impact on the community he is working with.”
Scott Watson, Premiership Rugby’s Brazil Project Manager said: “Rugby will be part of the Olympic programme for the first time in 2016. So it is crucial to develop a project like this. We are deploying professional coaching staff into Sao Paulo to engage with children and young people to deliver health, education and social outcomes while promoting the growth of rugby union.
“It uses rugby as a tool for education and the promotion of social development and inclusion. It is the first initiative to promote rugby union in Brazil.”
It is the second Premiership Rugby overseas project after 12 community coaches went to New York in May in a development and promotion role.
Chris is pictured.