We are absolutely delighted to announce that the Saracens, England and British and Irish Lions lock, Maro Itoje, has been elected to the Atlas Foundation Board of Trustees.

As an Atlas Trustee, Maro will be legally responsible for charitable compliance and will work with the other Trustees to set the strategic direction of the charity, ensuring that Atlas fulfils its vision and mission. He will represent Atlas and be a champion of our core values and most importantly, ensure that the work Atlas does around the world protects children and helps them to thrive. Maro's interest in international development and his Nigerian heritage makes him particularly interested in developing Atlas's work with children across Africa. His youth and insight will be a great asset to our Atlas team.

Photo: Vicki Couchman

Sitting down with Atlas Chief Executive, Sally Pettipher, and The Sunday Times Chief Sports Writer, David Walsh, Maro was able to speak about the exciting developments he has going on right now. Not only featuring in David's article, 'If you want to scare a Nigerian parent, tell them you're going to do music', he is also the cover of Vogue magazine for August 2020.

So much more than just a rugby player

Both interviews gave Maro the opportunity to share his passions of politics, art, and, of course, rugby. As The Sunday Times article puts it, our newest Trustee is 'so much more than just a rugby player', with a degree in politics and a new 10-part series of podcasts with icons from across society.

With this much movement around him, not to mention the return of the Premiership looming around the corner, Atlas is humbled to be able to involve Maro at this busy stage in his career. Already the global champion for our All Schools programmes around the world, the addition of Maro to the Board will be instrumental in ensuring we continue to make a positive impact of the lives of thousands of kids in some of the most deprived areas of the world.

Sally Pettipher said of his election to the Board,

"It is an honour to have Maro championing our core values, he is an exceptional person beyond his rugby career and we are thrilled to have his passion, youth and determination driving Atlas forward."

Photo: Vicki Couchman

Everyone at Atlas is looking forward to the input and insight Maro's addition will bring in the coming years, and it is hoped that his experience as a Trustee will be a fantastic opportunity for both Atlas and for Maro to learn and gain from each other's skills.

Meanwhile, our activities have been greatly impacted by the current coronavirus pandemic, but we are pleased to see our projects and leaders responding appropriately and with confidence, adapting their activities to fit the needs of our kids where they can. While many in the charity sector have been worse hit, we are in a privileged position to be able to continue much of our work, despite the difficulties we have to navigate. 

Right across the world, from Memphis to Siem Reap, Buenos Aires to Bangalore and everywhere in between, the response from our leaders has been inspirational. The teams have been making food packages, and working with their local communities to deliver essential goods to those worse affected, as well as working hard to ensure that our kids stay fit and healthy and with some educational resources to keep their learning going. In South Africa, our coaches Frank and Xolani have also been making masks for the kids, and planning some socially distanced events to educate our kids around issues of gender violence, and personal hygiene, in particular. And on Mandela Day, they were able to bring the kids from Masiphumelele and Ocean View High Schools down to the playing fields to put up the first ever set of rugby posts at the school.

Another project which we have been delighted to see our local leaders making some in roads has been our DigiBus in Kenya, which has gone from a simple metal framing to being almost complete, with solar panels fitted and laptops arrived to be installed soon. Our project manager Fahad Adil has been working hard with Kenyan 7s legend and Atlas Rugby Champion, Humphrey Kayange, to get the bus ready in time for our Trekkers in October where they will be able to see the impact and the digital skills that our kids will learn when they return to school.

The new rugby posts in Masiphumelele being opened, led by local heroes Frank and Xolani.

With as many inspirational and life-changing projects making significant impacts to kids in their countries, there's plenty of opportunity for our newest Trustee, Maro Itoje, to get involved and bring real hope to children in Atlas projects all over the world.

You can read Maro’s interview with The Sunday Times here:https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/if-you-want-to-scare-a-nigerian-parent-tell-them-youre-going-to-do-music-btxtdwdq8

His feature in Vogue: https://www.vogue.co.uk/arts-and-lifestyle/article/maro-itoje 

And delve into his Pearl Conversations here: https://shows.acast.com/maro-itoje-pearl-conversations/