It was a Tuesday morning, on the 15th March, 2005.
Matt, as part of the England U21 team, was preparing for an under 21 Six Nations match, against Scotland.
A scrum was called and Matt being a prop, bound to his fellow team mate.
He heard the ref shout, “engage”, went down against his opposite number, shoved hard and remembers the scrum collapsing.
He was lifted off his feet and recalls it being hard for him to breathe, as his fellow teammates fell on top of him.
When the rest of his teammates got to their feet, Matt lay there, struggling to move.
Referee and former paramedic Tony Spreadbury was praised for his quick reaction to stabilise Matt’s neck, saving him even further damage that could have resulted in his death.
Matt spent 17 months at Stoke Mandeville hospital, before they agreed he was well enough to return home.
He’d dislocated his neck and severed his spinal cord, rendering him paralysed from the neck down.
Imagine, you’re 21, rugby is your world and it looks likely that you’ll go onto to represent your country and have a career doing the sport you love.
Then an accident, on the field of play, prevents you from moving any part of your body, from the neck down, for the rest of your life.
You’d think that would be game over but not if you’re Matt Hampson.
Matt set up a charity foundation to ‘Inspire and support young people seriously injured through sport’.
This text below is from http://www.matthampson.co.uk/
“Through Matt, the foundation is also able to offer mentoring, friendship and education. Very often a chat with somebody such as Matt who has been through it, ‘got the t-shirt’ and overcome many issues himself is the best assistance that injured personnel can get.
Matt’s educational visits to schools and clubs provide understanding and can be extremely motivational to those who hear him talk about his experiences and his zest for life”.
Here are a few things that make Matt happy…
What’s the last thing that made you happy?
Lunch. As you can probably tell I’m quite food orientated.
Apart from that, I’ve just finished a good meeting with the Matt Hampson foundation team to discuss our targets and progress, as far as the beneficiaries are concerned and it’s all going well.
What’s your favourite book?
To be honest I’m not much of a reader but I loved Francois Pienaar’s autobiography and I’ve also heard good things about, Engage: The Fall and Rise of Matt Hampson.
(Matt’s book was awarded the 2011 William Hill Irish Sports Book of the Year and subsequently awarded the, “Autobiography/Biography” category of the 2012 British Sports Book Awards and went on to win the “Best Overall” award).
What are you grateful for today?
I’m grateful for all the support I receive, from donations, to everyone who works for the foundation, to the Leicester Tigers.
Without these people we wouldn’t be able to achieve the things we do.
What’s your favourite film?
It’s such an amazing story. The way, Andy, through adversity and against all the odds has the strength to follow through and accomplish his dreams.
What’s your favourite little pleasure?
There’s a lot of things I can’t do, so I enjoy the simpler things in life, like eating nice food with good company and conversation.
Do you have a favourite quote?
It’s from my favourite film and it’s so relevant for my situation, it’s what the Matt Hampson Foundation is all about.
Which person inspired you or which person do you think is inspiring and why?
I have two canvasses of him hanging in my house and recently watched a documentary on him, which strengthened my respect for him.
Not only was he a superb sportsman but he stood for what he believed in, even when he was arrested and stripped of his world boxing title.
At the time, there was a bare knuckled fighter in Britain who started a petition to get Ali reinstated as the world champ. He managed to get over 200,000 signatures and Ali heard about it, so he personally visited the guy in the U.K. several times.
He didn’t have to do that, it just shows what a man of value he was.
I also respect rugby players in general.
They put their bodies on the line, every game they play and they don’t get paid huge amounts of money.
The rugby community have also been hugely supportive to me all they way.
What one event has been the most memorable / most enjoyable in your life and why?
In April we organised a charity rugby match, Tigers Legends V’s Matt Hampson’s International Legends at Welford Road.
The game attracted 16,000 spectators. It was the biggest attended game that weekend in Europe.
At the start, I went on the pitch and it brought a tear to my eye.
Is there something that’s happened to you, which at the time was seemingly negative but eventually turned out to be positive?
I have a Latin quote, carved out of stone, built into my wall of my house, it reads, “Omnia causa fiunt”, which means, “Everything happens for a reason” and I totally believe this.
Matt’s Twitter account is: @Hambofoundation
If you would like to know more about the foundation, its aims or you would like to know more about Matt’s educational visits, contact email@example.com or visit his website, http://www.matthampson.co.uk/ for further details.