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Mark Cavendish joins fellow Olympians on Right To Play field trip to Tanzania

Former world champion to see charity's work at first hand...

Speculation may be rife over Mark Cavendish’s destination for the 2013 season, with Omega Pharma-Quick Step favourite to sign Team Sky's former world champion, but we’re unlikely to find out anything for sure this week with the 28-year-old currently in Tanzania to see first-hand the work of the charity he supports, Right To Play.

Cavendish is one of three Olympian Right to Play ambassadors spending four days in the East African country, the others being Crista Cullen, who picked up a bronze medal in London as part of the Team GB women’s hockey squad, and the rower Mark Hunter, who added silver in London to the gold he won in Beijing four years ago.

During the trip the trio will be spending time at Right To Play projects and speaking about their own experiences of sport, as well as playing games with some of the 835,000 children that Right to Play helps each week.

Last November, at the launch of Right To Play’s 2012 bike ride from Liege to London, Cavendish, who himself became a father this year, spoke of his involvement with the charity, which operates in 18 countries.

"I first met Right To Play when T-Mobile changed to High Road [his former team]. I bought into Right To Play straight away with what they do.

“It wasn’t just about them working with the team and I started working on a personal level, I wanted to know more and I’ve always been a massive supporter since.

"It’s so easy sometimes to look at a charity and you don’t know you can’t really relate to it.

"You can give money but one, you don’t know where the money goes or two, it’s for something you don’t know anything about, say if it’s to supply medical things.

"Okay it’s doing something good, but I can’t relate to that.

“But with Right To Play, I could, it’s helping underprivileged children through sport, so it’s something I can do."

Cavendish gave an illustration of how Right To Play had transformed the life of one youngster.

"The story I heard, I think it was in Sierra Leone, there was a little girl, her parents had both been killed and she hadn’t talked for a year. Someone went and just rolled a ball to this girl. She looked at the ball, looked up, and pushed the ball back.

“Then he pushed it back again, she looked up, pushed it back. It kept going for a while, and it wasn’t just after that one thing, but in time she was talking and she just integrated back into life.

"With things like that, you can actually see what it’s doing, you can see that things can be helped through sport.

“I’ve seen the benefits of it, I’ve seen the positive influence it has, and I’ve been a massive supporter since, on a personal level and not just through my team.”

You can find out more about Right To Play’s work here.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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