Sparta was an ancient Greek city known for breeding the mightiest warriors. To be Spartan was to fight, so much so that kings would claim to be the descendants of great champion demigods such as Hercules. Spartan wars are etched in history as the fiercest, most gruesome battles. You may have heard about the great battle of Thermopylae, when Leonidas resisted the unending Persian army, or Sparta’s unsinkable fleet, which assured their victory over Athens. However, you may not have heard about heroic Spartan triumphs in the modern era...
On the 9th of October 2022, eleven modern day Spartans challenged their psychological and physical limits in the name of Matt Ratana. Awakening early on the Saturday, these warriors travelled to the faraway land of East Grinstead where a brutal 5km obstacle course awaited them. The course included numerous dangers… the Spartans traversed soaring walls, crawled through fields of barbed wire, and lifted stones even the mighty Zeus would struggle with. No matter, the team assembled was comprised of the finest Metropolitan Police officers and would overcome any challenge. So, they chose to test themselves even further, deciding to compete in the race wearing their full TSG riot gear. Throughout the race, most, if not all, would come to regret their decision. On an already warm day, an additional 10kg of padding was not what the doctor ordered. Regardless, on this day, each of them grew to embody the true Spartan spirit, pushing themselves for a greater cause.
The Matt Ratana Rugby Foundation joined forces with Spartan earlier this year to identify new ways of inspiring those young people who need our support most. The partnership has been a wonderful way for the Foundation to connect more with young people in the communities that Matt held so dear. This race helped raise funds for our “Let’s Play Rugby” programme, an initiative based in Croydon that will provide young people with the opportunity to safely learn and flourish through rugby.
Our aim is to help build an environment where people from every background can thrive. Since March, MRRF has helped 4 schools in Croydon implement consistent rugby sessions for youngsters from years 2-8. Across all 4 schools, these sessions engage around 135 participants weekly and we are adamantly committed to growing this number. We have been able to support young people who are at risk of exclusion, difficult times or on the fringe of joining gangs, and encourage them to practice self-acceptance, develop their mental strength and improve their overall self-confidence: to be the very best version of themselves.
We would like to extend a gracious thank you to everyone who donated, and to the brave officers who participated in the race. Thank you Nick, Tom, Fred, Kieran, Josh, Mathew, Perry, Nick, Alex, Thomas, and Jack. We hope to see you all for the next one.