British rugby star Ben Coehn, 32, has announced that he is retiring from the game. The England World Cup winner goes out on top, being Sales Shark’s player of the season. Why is he giving up playing, then? Married with kids, the straight ruby star has long been an advocate for LGBT rights and wants to concentrate on his work fighting homophobia and bullying with the Ben Cohen StandUp Foundation.
From the statement on the Ben Cohen Official Fan Site:
‘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.’
‘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.’
The website quotes Cohen as also saying: “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.”
Cohen is currently touring the USA with his Acceptance Tour. From the 19th through to the 29th May he will be working with gay friendly rugby clubs in Atlanta, New York, Washington DC and Seattle, and running training sessions, giving university and school talks and engaging in other fund raising activities all to promote an anti-bullying, pro-LGBT message.