A Pontefract rugby player set to make his international debut later this month has thanked the people of West Yorkshire for making it happen.
Connor Hampson, a former Huddersfield Giants pro who currently plays for Halifax RLFC’s reserve side, was delighted to find out that he had been selected to play for Germany in a brace of vital World Cup qualifiers.
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But as a student working part-time at a sports centre, front-rower Connor soon realised he was unlikely to be able to afford the £300 return flights to Hannover and Oslo, where the Germans will take on Czech Republic and Norway respectively.
He said: “It was gutting to think that it wasn’t going to happen for me.
“I’d come to terms with the fact that I just didn’t have enough money to go out and play international rugby right now.
“Then I saw a few things that people had used crowdfunding sites for and I just thought, ‘what have I got to lose?’, so I went for it and within a day I’d raised 120% of the funds I needed.
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“It was totally heartwarming the response that I got. I really didn’t expect anything like it.
“There were big donations from people I’d never even met.
“It says a lot for the rugby league community.
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They’ve made a dream come true and it really does mean the world to me.”
The 19-year-old qualifies for Germany through the citizenship of his father, who was born there whilst Connor’s grandfather served in Berlin.
If selected, he will make his debut alongside Leeds Rhinos star Jimmy Keinhorst, who is the German captain.
“The whole thing has been so unexpected,” Connor said, “when you sign a contract with a club you’re asked to write down any nations that you might qualify for. I wrote Germany not thinking anything would ever come of it.
“Then one day I got an email giving me the heads up that I might be in line for selection. It’s just gone from there.”
Connor will travel to Osnabrück, two hours east of Hannover, for a training session and match against Czech republic on August 25, before jetting off to take on Norway an hour south of Oslo on September 15.