- Wasps Academy player Sam Clarkson balances playing career with volunteering
- Sam has clocked over 55 hours of voluntary coaching at Wallingford Rugby Club since January 2016
17 year-old Sam Clarkson is far from your average teenager. As well as being part of the Wasps Academy, he also commits his time to volunteering at his childhood rugby club and for a local charity.
It all began for Clarkson just three years ago when he began playing for Wallingford RFC in Oxfordshire, joining a side that went on to win the county competition two years in a row.
The club recognised Clarkson's potential straight away, quickly progressing him through the ranks to become a member of the senior development squad and he was soon participating in the club’s senior training sessions.
WASPS COME CALLING
Despite being a relative newcomer to the sport, Sam's performances put him on the radar of the Wasps U17 Academy. Clarkson moved down to join the club, enrolling at Henley College as an AASE student.
“In the same week that I made my debut for the senior team I got called up by the Wasps U17 Academy," says Clarkson. I put it all down to the coaches at Wallingford RFC who really pushed me forward and showed me what rugby was.”
Clarkson's gratitude towards those at the club led him to consider how he could give something back.
'VOLUNTEERING OF THE HIGHEST ORDER'
“After all the club has done to help support me and get me to this point, it is only fair for me to give back what they have given to me."
Clarkson spoke to his former coach Richard Jenkins last summer and asked if he could help with the U16s.
"The step up from U16 to senior development squad is a bit of a jump and so I wanted to help get the kids prepared for it by teaching them line out and things they will all be doing next year.”
Jenkins has said Clarkson's impact at the club since becoming a volunteer coach has been impressive.
“I was sceptical at first as Sam was only a year older than the squad and I wasn’t sure how they would react having been coached by a bunch of 40-somethings, long time ex-players," says Jenkins.
"After the first session with Sam in the fold that scepticism was blown away. He led the coaching session from the front and the squad responded very positively to having one of their near-peers working with them, his energy, drive and focus was infectious. It's been volunteering of the highest order.”
DRIVING RUGBY FORWARD
So far this year, Clarkson has clocked over 55 hours of volunteering and is also an RFU Young Rugby Ambassador, recently taking part in a pledge to help grow and promote the game as part of the #iwill campaign, led by Step Up to Serve.
As well as giving back to the game, he has also spent a lot of time giving back to his community. As a volunteer for O.S.C.A.R, he works with children who have suffered from brain and spinal tumours.
“The group has become like a family to one another” says Clarkson.
"It’s a great support network for the kids as it shows them that, even though you have suffered brain cancer, you can still go on to lead a normal life. Being involved has been equally beneficial to me as it’s great working with people similar to yourself, all wanting to help people out.”
The ultimate aim for Clarkson is to play professionally, but he is also committed to continuing to work as a volunteer.
"The best thing to do is to go out into your local community and offer support for those looking to forge a path in rugby. Go to your local rugby club and they will show you what to do straight away and let you go off to and do your thing.”
For information on how to become a rugby volunteer, click HERE