A RUGBY champion has started a charity to help young people enjoy sport – in memory of an inspirational sportsman who died from cancer.
Three-time Calcutta Cup winner Jason White has launched Sporting Start to honour friend Martin Macari, who died last year.
Aged just 47 when he died, Martin was passionate about encouraging youngsters in sport and now trustees including Jason and Martin’s family have started the charity to help break down barriers that limit participation in sport.
And cousin Paul Macari said it wasn’t until after Martin’s death last year aged just 47, that the family realised how many people he had encouraged.
He said: “Martin had a lifelong love of sport – that’s what he was all about and after he died there was an incredible response of comments and messages from people who he had helped.
“To more people than I realised he was a role model and the stories that came out after he died showed how many he had inspired – some incredibly emotional.”
A passionate advocate for the power and joy of sport, Martin led by role model example as player, coach and leader across multiple sports including rugby for Watsonians.
And it is this appetite for sport and rugby, cricket, football and squash that inspired his nearest and dearest to start a fund with the ambition of giving those who face barriers to inclusion in sport, the opportunity to participate.
Lifelong friend and former flatmate Jason said Scotland flying high on the wings of the nation’s win over England is the perfect time to harness the power of positive sporting role models for boys and girls.
He said: “There’s this sense of how sport can change a nation and how it can change our outlook and if the charity’s launch today can harness just a little bit of that, then it’s a fantastic opportunity.
“For me growing up, role models were important and I think that’s a huge thing that the Scotland team are doing at the moment – creating role models such as Stuart Hogg Finn Russell and Hugh Jones, which is so key to getting kids involved in sport.”
Money raised could go towards a range of support, from providing rugby boots for a family who can’t afford them to a large scale sports open day to give kids across the city a taster of sports available.
“If the charity can inspire one child to aspire to be like Finn Russell and have a healthier lifestyle then we’d be so happy,” Jason said. He also said inspiring young girls into grabbing available opportunities and showing them they can do whatever they want in sport was a vision he knows Martin would agree with.
He said: “Martin, who has a daughter, was also involved in the touch rugby, which is a huge area for girls to get involved in rugby and it’s a great social sport. He would love his daughter to grow up with the opportunity to do what she wanted. He touched so many people with his attitude to life this is a fitting legacy to a great man.”
For more information, visit www.sportingstart.org.