Former Wales international Alix Popham plans to raise both awareness of and funds to support brain health in sport by taking part in a charity bike ride from Cardiff to Edinburgh this month.
Popham is one of a number of ex-rugby professionals to have been diagnosed with early onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), as a result of concussions or sub concussive hits suffered while playing. Since his diagnosis, he has been a passionate voice in rugby's concussion crisis.
Head for Change is a new charity, pioneering positive change for brain health in sport and supporting ex-players who are affected by neurodegenerative diseases as a result of their professional sporting careers in football or rugby.
Former Wales international Alix Popham (above) plans to raise both awareness of and funds to support brain health in sport
The charity offers care and support to affected players and their families and through education and research, seeks to protect the players and protect the games. It wants to make both rugby and football safer for participants by encouraging all stakeholders to take a player-centred approach to the sports.
The aim of the Cardiff to Edinburgh cycle challenge is to raise awareness of the issues and much-needed funds to support the charity.
The ride will depart the Welsh capital on Monday, February 6 from Principality Stadium at 8am – two days after Wales' opening match of the 2023 Six Nations against Ireland at the same venue.
Popham and his fellow riders aim to arrive in Edinburgh by the time of the Scotland against Wales game at BT Murrayfield on February 11.
The 43-year-old will take part in a charity bike ride from Cardiff to Edinburgh this month
Popham (right) is one of a number of ex-rugby professionals to have been diagnosed with early onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE)
Popham said: 'Although 450 miles is a huge distance to cover, the true support shown by so many people is a great motivator to keep cycling.'
At Head for Change we want to make a difference to people's lives who have been hit hard or are struggling with neurological diseases.
'It would be good to get as many people involved in this challenge to raise awareness and much-needed funds for what is a small charity in order for us to continue the work we are determined to do.'
Popham's daughter Darcey and her fellow pupils at Langstone Primary School near Newport will also support the fundraising by cycling the same distance as Cardiff to Edinburgh on static bikes.
Popham's daughter and her fellow pupils at Langstone Primary School near Newport will also support the fundraising by cycling the same distance as Cardiff to Edinburgh on static bikes
For those taking on the real thing, the 450-mile challenge will be made all the more difficult by a lack of daylight hours and potentially inclement weather. Popham added: 'Working to support brain health in former rugby players and improving the safety of the modern game is a cause that is so close to my heart.
'We have seen how the lives of many former players and their families have been torn apart by diagnoses of early onset dementia and probable CTE.
'I know from personal experience how hard these illnesses are to deal with which is why I'm so determined to try and make a difference.
'Any support we receive will be most welcomed.'
To support the Head For Edinburgh Cycle Challenge 2023, go to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/headforchangeedinburgh