I admired Owen Williams’ talent as a player as I watched him develop through the ranks. He has an old head on young shoulders and his brutish physical stature belied the deft touches and finesse of his game. He was an all-rounder, and, so I’m told, a very grounded and level headed person to be around. He had already pulled on the red shirt of Wales and looked immediately comfortable, like he belonged. Many more caps were surely to follow.
What happened to Owen in Singapore was truly awful. It was no-one’s fault, a freak accident, but one with devastating consequences for Owen himself of course, and for his family. His rugby career was ended in one split second but his battles are still only at their beginning. Every day he inches along the road to recovery, with the support of a close-knit family, his community club at Aberdare and of course his region, Cardiff Blues. Owen’s situation resonates with every player who has ever played the game, and with every partner, parent or sibling who has watched. The sport is one we deeply love, but one in which there are risks that we accept as we cross the whitewash. Rugby brings people together, and those bonds are being demonstrated across the World as the rugby community joins together to support Owen in his recovery.
Gareth works for me in my Sport Business. He had been providing me with consultative support for about four months when he mentioned the challenges he was hoping to undertake in 2015 and asked for my help. Whilst I admire his determination and ambition, I couldn’t help but think he might have bitten off more than he could chew! How many marathons had he done previously? None, yet here was he telling me he would be running in Paris! And more importantly, how many triathlons had he competed in? Again, none! But he planned to jump in at the deep end and sign up for Ironman Wales in Tenby!
I offered to support Gareth and we discussed raising money for a worthwhile cause. Having been involved in rugby all my life and particularly spending many hours mentoring and nurturing younger players, just like Owen, I was passionate that his was the cause we should be donating to. Gareth agreed wholeheartedly and approached Cardiff Blues for their blessing, which we duly received last week. We have set an ambitious, but achievable target of £5,000 for the year, although of course we hope to raise more for Owen if we possibly can!
Gareth will also be joining the Cardiff Blues cycle ride to Paris in June if we can raise enough money (£2,000) in time, and of course his training will continue for the next seven and a half months. Both of us will in the meantime be working tirelessly to promote his endeavours and spread the message, which will hopefully enable us to exceed our targets.
All I can say is this: if you can afford to give, even just a little, please help. You can donate here. If you know of anyone, or any company who can help publicise this fundraising effort, or make a donation, please contact us, or pass our details on.
Thank you all for your anticipated support.