The legacy of the late Jo Cox MP is being kept alive through rugby league after a delegation of VIPs headed off to Pakistan last weekend to launch a girls’ training initiative in conjunction with schools within Jo’s parliamentary constituency.
Headed up by the trio of BARA (British Asian Rugby Association) founder and former England RL international Ikram Butt, Oasis Lister Academy Headteacher, Ian Simpson, and Craig Taylor, of Batley Bulldogs, the project involves identifying 15 girls who will be selected from Kirklees, Bradford and Leeds.
They will be mentored by a collaboration of partners including the Chief Superintendent of West Yorkshire Police, Mabs Hussain British Army Head of Engagement, Major Marr; and Chris Green, founder of the White Ribbon Campaign, amongst others.
Ikram explained: “These girls will be trained to go into primary and secondary schools here in the UK, to coach sport activities and classroom based sessions, sharing and promoting the values and vision of Jo Cox MP. On the strength of this training, the girls will then get the chance to visit schools in Pakistan, identified during our visit in October, next year.
“During our weeklong visit over October half-term, we will meet with Pakistani government officials in Islamabad and Azad Kashmir, officials at the British Embassy, Director General of the Pakistan Sports Board and head teachers from various schools.”
The group have received support from leading community figures, including the sister of Ms Cox, Kim Leadbeater, who has expressed a desire to be part of the delegation next year.
During their ongoing trip, the trio will also distribute shirts labelled with Ms Cox’s famed quote ‘More in Common’.
“On the first Sunday of our visit, there will be a girl’s rugby tournament held in Islamabad organised by the pioneering Islamabad Rugby Club, where we will present the winners with the Jo Cox MP Memorial Trophy,” Ikram added.
“Meanwhile, the collaboration of partners here in the UK is already working towards creating an educational resource pack to be used in the schools which we hope will be embraced by our global leaders and delivered in schools on a global scale.
“Much like the Stephen Lawrence projects for students, schools that sign up and fulfil the requirements will be presented with the Jo Cox MP International Memorial Award.”