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Tigers players back the Aviva Community Fund

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Leicester Tigers players have been rolling back the years, dusting off their old childhood memorabilia and reminiscing about their first grassroots clubs in support of this year's Aviva Community Fund.

Dan Cole, Manu Tuilagi and Ben Youngs have shared memories of their earlier years, dug out old images and jerseys and explained how grassroots clubs helped them to achieve their dreams of becoming professional rugby players.
The Aviva Community Fund, a nationwide initiative that lends a helping hand to grassroots sports clubs and community causes, has reopened for a second year to offer funding of between £1,000 and £25,000.
This year, Aviva, the proud title sponsor of Aviva Premiership Rugby, has introduced a ‘Sport in the Community’ category, which means the hundreds of thousands of grassroots sports clubs across the UK can apply or reapply for funding in a sport-specific category. The closing date for applications is 12 noon on October 11.
Youngs, whose first club was Holt RFC in Norfolk, said: “It’s about going back to grassroots – it all started for us at local rugby clubs. Every England player at the 12 Aviva Premiership clubs started at a club team.

"One of my early memories when I started rugby, I remember Neil Back coming to open up the clubhouse. It makes a massive impact, the coaches are volunteers, they go out because they love the sport and they want to give something back. It’s just very important that we continue to raise funds to keep clubs moving forward.”
Tuilagi started his rugby journey at Hinckley RFC, and he said: “I think it’s very important because that’s where we all started our rugby. I played at Hinckley since I was very young.

"It’s very important for the Aviva Community Fund to try to help them out. Hopefully with the money it will help to bring more kids into the sport and experience the world of rugby.

"I have a lot of good memories playing for Hinckley; you play with your mates every weekend, the same as now, but back in age groups it’s all about enjoying it.

"The Aviva Community Fund will help the local clubs, improve the pitches, and bring a lot more kids into the game. They enjoy it and love the game even more.”
Cole, who first played rugby at South Leicester RFC, said: “Sports teams do so much for bringing people together, not just the health and fitness side but the social side.

"It’s important that they are looked after because they mean a lot to a lot of people. A lot is read and heard about human interaction but rugby clubs bring people together. In rugby you turn up early, play the game, have respect for the ref, you get changed after and have a laugh with your team mates. It’s fantastic.”
Pete Markey, brand & marketing communications director at Aviva UK, said: “The Aviva Community Fund is the perfect way for Aviva to help communities come together and support the grassroots sports clubs and local causes that are central to a strong community.

"Last year, the Aviva Community Fund helped make a difference to hundreds of projects and causes the length and the breadth of the UK and we look forward to helping even more communities this year.”
To enter your club for a chance to secure funding, visit aviva.co.uk/community-fund or search for ‘Aviva Community Fund’.