Sported and Vodafone give local grassroots rugby player the chance to join his heroes on the pitch at Wales v England

9 August 2023

Vodafone, Principal Partner of the Welsh Rugby Union, gave local South Gower RFC player Luca Gates the opportunity to walk out onto the pitch at Principality Stadium and deliver the match ball at Saturday’s Vodafone Summer Series game between Wales and England.


Luca, age 10, was selected by Vodafone because of his passion for and dedication to rugby. He first started playing for South Gower RFC when he was 6 years old and during his time with the club has won a number of awards in recognition of his talent, passion and dedication both on and off the pitch.


Players and coaches from local club Tylorstown RFC, from the Rhondda Valley, also had the chance to meet Wales heroes including Warren Gatland and Louis Rees-Zammit this weekend at the Captain’s Run on Friday. A Sported partner club, Tylorstown were rewarded for their incredible work in the local community, helping underprivileged kids grow and develop their skills on and off the pitch.

Vodafone is committed to supporting grassroots sports clubs in Wales and across the UK. Through its charity partnership with Sported, a UK-wide grassroots sports charity, Vodafone is offering free connectivity, digital skills and a grant-giving scheme to grassroots sports clubs to help engage more young people in sport, tackle inequality and boost health and wellbeing through sport.


New research from Sported has highlighted just how vital better connectivity and digital skills are to the success of their community groups. 66% of the groups don’t consider themselves to be well-connected and 88% believe digital skills support would be valuable. As a result, Vodafone has pledged to help 25,000 people in Wales over the next 12 months by giving local people, sports clubs and businesses the connectivity and skills they need to stay connected and run more efficiently.


Speaking after the Wales v England match, Luca said: “Rugby is a huge part of my life, so it was a dream come true to walk out onto the pitch ahead of such a big game, take in the amazing atmosphere and see some of my favourite players up close. It’s an experience I’ll never forget.”  

Nicki Lyons, Chief Corporate Affairs & Sustainability Officer, Vodafone UK said: “At Vodafone we believe that sport has the power to transform young people’s lives and we understand the vital role that grassroots community clubs play in this. We are passionate about using our partnerships with the WRU and Sported to give back to these groups and local communities and give well deserving people like Luca these once in a lifetime experiences.”


Sported Chief Executive Sarah Kaye said: “We want to give young people opportunities to connect with sport in different ways and to take the inspiration back to their grassroots clubs. And in giving our members and young people an opportunity to be right at the heart of the build-up to a huge occasion such as Wales v England, Sported’s partnership with Vodafone and the WRU has been able to give them an experience they will never forget.”

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