For the Players
For the game

Lending a Hand: Carlo del Fava benefits from Restart grant

August 21st, 2014

When former Italian and Newcastle Falcons’ lock, Carlo del Fava, injured his neck earlier this year the thought of retirement never crossed his mind. But as the devastating news filtered through Carlo was left with an uncertain future and a lack of direction. From that moment Carlo was put in contact with Restart, the RPA’s official charity, and as they say, the rest is history.

Heading into his 13th season as a professional rugby player Carlo’s ambition to continue playing was never as high.

He was playing well for Newcastle and the thought of leaving the game still seemed a long way away:

“I always thought that I could at least squeeze another year out of my body and I was really enjoying my rugby but unfortunately it wasn’t to be. Leaving something you love the most without a choice and being forced to quit was gut wrenching, because I wasn’t expecting it. Especially as my plan to return to my qualification in the plumbing industry wasn’t yet in place.”

Born in South Africa, Carlo learnt his rugby trade through hard work and determination in the province of Natal before moving to his Dad’s birth country, Italy.

The move saw Carlo have successful club stints at Rugby Parma, Bourgoin, Ulster, Viadana, Aironi and Newcastle.

He was also selected to play for Italy on 54 occasions, making the decision to leave the game an even tougher proposition:

“Up until now it has been the hardest decision I have ever had to make. I knew I couldn’t play on with my neck problem, but it just never really hit me that this was the end and that I could never play again. I still think about it every day and it still hurts looking back at it.”

With an uncertain future and without the funds to get his plumbing business off the ground, Carlo soon found his situation in the hands of the RPA and Restart:

“After retiring I had nothing ready to get my business up and running and it was actually through the RPA’s Mandy Thompson that the whole Restart thing came about. Mandy advised me that they were happy to help and provide a grant, which was amazing news. Once I had gone through the process my application was approved and I received a cheque for £2,000 in the mail. I then used the grant to get my plumbing business going and to fill my van with all of the essential tools and equipment, which then allowed me to go out and start finding work.”

The Restart grant provided Carlo with the lift and motivation he needed, with his plumbing company ‘Del Fava Plumbing’ now serving Newcastle and the surrounding regions.

“I think my life would be heading in the totally wrong direction if it wasn’t for the support of Restart. I have been fortunate to have played in some amazing places like Italy and Northern Ireland but England is the only place where a charity like this has been in place. The fact that the RPA are so active is so important for the players because they lend such a big hand to guys who find themselves in a hard place after rugby. To not have that support system and that back up behind you can become very stressful not just for the player but for their family as well. If it wasn’t for the RPA and Restart, I would still find myself under a huge amount of stress and difficulty. The grant was a life saver and I can now enjoy and look forward to my future in the plumbing industry.”