World Champion Rugby Player Ben Cohen MBE announces retirement to concentrate on the launch of his new StandUp Brand.
After a glittering 15 years of top flight rugby, 57 caps for his country and 31 tries, Ben Cohen MBE has decided to hang up his boots to fully take over his new role of Chairman to the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation, the world’s first anti-bullying organisation.
Cohen’s role as an advocate for equality and the rights of the individual has been developing over the past few years through his work with the gay community both in the UK and the USA. He is the first straight sports star to dedicate his philanthropic efforts for the benefit of LGBT people.
He is currently travelling to the USA on his Acceptance Tour visiting 4 cities to promote his message, raise funds to assist existing LGBT organisations and to gather support from everyone encouraging them to stand up with him against bullying and homophobia and to stand up for love and equality.
‘To be honest, I would never have imagined my career was going to move in this direction after my professional rugby career, but here we are – it’s happening. It is incredibly exciting and we have so many plans in the pipeline to be able to make a difference.
In my view, rugby is a very inclusive sport. Everyone can get involved in one way or another, so I will be using it as a vehicle to drive my message of acceptance out to people from all walks of life, everywhere. There is a lot of work to be done. Attitudes need to change. Young people should not be bullied into taking their own lives. That is what is happening and it needs to stop’.
Cohen, 32, started playing professional rugby at 17 years old as part of the Northampton Saints set up where he played for 11 years. During that time he was part of the team that won the Heineken Cup in 2000. He then went on to win the World Cup in 2003 with England.
‘I have reached the top in my sport. It has been an incredible journey and has put me in the privileged position I am in today to be able to work on these exciting new projects through the StandUp Brand. As athletes, it is not enough just to have strong bodies. We must have strong characters and use our voices to support those who need and deserve it.’
After 18 months playing in France at CA Brive, Cohen returned to the UK to finish his career with a two year stint with Sale Sharks.
The Ben Cohen Acceptance Tour , 19th to 29th May 2011, involves working with the Gay/Gay Friendly rugby clubs in Atlanta, New York, Washington DC and finishes at the Magnitude Tournament in Seattle. Cohen will be running training sessions, talking to groups at universities, schools and colleges as well as attending a variety of fund raising events throughout the 10 days.
Cohen will be staying within the rugby arena as much as possible on a variety of projects that are currently in formation.
MESSAGER FROM BEN -
"I would like to thank everyone who has supported me over the years. It has been an incredible journey and there are so many of you who have stuck by me through thick and thin. I really am grateful to all of you. I have friends who have known me since I was 17 years old and playing at Saints and new friends who are supporting my cause and standing up with me against bullying. You all hold a special place in my heart.
I see this as the beginning of my new career and I have much work to do. The Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation is being officially launched at the beginning of our Acceptance Tour this coming week. I look forward to keeping in touch with everybody and am excited about standing up for equality and making a difference"