Humans of Lao Rugby: Poupay


Before Poupay joined a rugby team, she never played any sports. When her friends introduced her rugby, she wanted to try it to find out what is was like. When she joined the team, apart from learning about playing rugby - like receiving and passing the ball - she also learned about life skills that she can apply into her daily life. She has learned how to save money, and that men and women have equal rights, and that both men and women can play rugby. Poupay’s team had a chance to participate in a tag rugby competition, and her team won 3rd place in the event. What she likes best about rugby is running to place tries to make scores for the team. She said that “I like rugby because it provides me opportunities to learn about sport skills and life skills that I can use in my daily life. In addition, the curriculum provides knowledge about gender roles and I have learned that men and women can play rugby equally. What I am proud of is making scores for the team in the games, and another thing is I am brave to speak out that all sexes can play this sport - whether men, women, or the third gender.”

Besides playing tag rugby, Poupay also has had the chance to play contact rugby with a U14 team. She played against teams from Xiengkhouang Province, Vientiane Capital and from Hungary. Her U14 Team’s name is Ling-noy (Little monkey). The coach is Vaen and Jiab is an assistant coach. Poupay’s team won 3rd place in their first competition. This made her want to play contact rugby again. Poupay is supported by her family in playing rugby, both tag and contact rugby. For instance, her parents bought her training shoes and racing shoes. “It was my first time playing contact rugby, and I was very happy with the game. I learned new skills in contact rugby and I am happy that my parents are supporting me to do what I like. When my parents support me, I will do my best. In the future I want to play for the national team and travel to play in many countries as a representative of Laos.” Poupay said.

Humans of Lao Rugby: Tarn


“Sabaidee [hello], my name is Miss Bounpasong Kedhongsa (Tarn). I was born in Sounanta Village, Kaisonephomviharn District, Savannakhet Province. I have played rugby for 1 year and 6 months. I started playing rugby in the Pass It Back program and then developed myself to play tackle rugby. I now play for the Vientiane Lions Club and I developed myself to become a bronze level coach for the Pass It Back program.

Before rugby, I was an ordinary child, living in a remote area located very far away from school. When I was fifteen, I moved to study at in Vientiane Capital. At the time, I lived with my aunt for my studies. When I was in grade 5 of secondary school, I played tag rugby with my school team. I was very excited to have a chance to be on the Nagas National Rugby Team to play in my first match in Hong Kong.

Later on, the Federation was recruiting coaches for the Pass It Back program, and I was really interested in becoming a coach because I wanted to deliver my knowledge to others. I was excited to participate in the training for coaches at the bronze level for the first time. It was challenging because I had to talk to many people, even though I did not like talking with others. But when I became a coach, I realized that I had more conversations with different people and even gained new experiences — like being a leader. I used my leadership experience in training my team so that children see me as a role model of the 5 moral rugby principles - honesty, solidarity, passion, respect and discipline. I also apply my leadership skills in my daily life: I must have a permanent job that I like and take care of my work around the house. In addition, I want to improve my English skills because I am a National Team member and will travel to play matches in many different countries. In 2017, I played in the Hong Kong match and was selected to be in the U17 National Team to play in the SEA Games in Malaysia. I am so happy and proud of my achievements and of those who continually support me. Moreover, I am a coach under the Pass It Back program. I think English is really important and it is very difficult if you do not know English, even when asking for directions. Sometimes, I know some words but cannot understand when people respond too fast.

I am very happy that we have the Pass It Back program because it helps develop my skills and ideas. In addition, it provides me with new experiences, leadership skills, and an understanding of the 5 moral principles of rugby, gender roles, and how to plan for my future.

I started playing rugby from zero - having no knowledge about it - and now I am on the National Team. Being able to apply lessons from rugby program into my daily life is something wonderful. In the next five years, my life may not be certain, but I still want to regularly do things that I like such as playing rugby, continuing to improve myself through coaching, and achieving my goals. I also want to share my experience with new generations, develop children in my community, and give more opportunities to disadvantaged people because I used to be in that situation. I want to travel and collect more experiences from more places, finish my studies, have a secure job, support my brothers/sisters to complete their studies, construct a new house for my mother, and send my youngest brother to get medical rehabilitation in another country. I am so proud of myself that I have been able to have so many experiences at this young age and I also feel that I am now a grown-up who is self-reliant and able to provide some support to my family.”

Humans of Lao Rugby: Paiya


“Before being a coach, my daily routine and time management was not so difficult. However, after joining the program as a coach I started to face problems, and I found it is difficult to manage my time. During the weekdays, I had to go to school, do housework, and train the children.

I had to manage problems by myself, and I started to develop more leadership. Now I can give advice to my friends and I can manage my time to train my teams (2 U13 teams and a U14 team).

After becoming a coach, I started to gain more experiences. I have made new friends and I have learned life skills, rugby skills, and first aid treatment. Being a coach taught me how to manage my time for studies, housework, training my teams, and other things. I have developed relationships with many people who have more experience, knowledge, and different capacity than me. I feel that my life has positively changed because I am a coach."

Der Ha's Story

Der Ha

Miss Der Ha is 18 years old. She is in grade 5 at Tuya Secondary School. She lives in Nonghet District, Xiengkouang Province. Miss Der Ha is a Pass It Back Coach at the bronze level.

Here is Der Ha’s background before becoming a rugby sport Coach. In the past she had never played sport, but later she was encouraged by her senior school friend to train children in her village. Der Ha also told her that she wanted to teach children and to learn about how rugby was played as she had never played it.

Therefore, she applied for being a Coach as advised by her senior school friend. Nevertheless, she did not expect to be selected for a coaching position because she had never played rugby before, so she thought she would definitely not be selected. After a few days, she received a phone call from the Lao Rugby Federation telling her that she was selected to be trained as a rugby Coach. She attended the training in Phonsavanh about how to train rugby and life skills. In addition, she learned how to plan her training from her own peer partner.

Since that first training, she has attended several more trainings and currently, she is coaching three girls teams. Two of Der Ha’s teams are players between 14-16 years old and one team is made up of players between 11-13 years old. Her athletes are from two nearby villages. Her peer partner and herself train their athletes every day until the activities end. Der Ha talked about her Coaching experience: “I want to develop children and work with adults to develop myself in order to work with others better.” Since being a Coach, she has learned how to work with children or other athletes in nearby villages, how to provide first aid care, how to plan her tasks and training lessons for the children. In addition, Der Ha also said that she liked providing the first aid care to athletes when they got bruised or injured during a training session, especially cleaning wounds. Der Ha thinks that the trainings and coaching work have been very good opportunities for her to learn how to work with the Lao Rugby Federation and to learn more about how to train rugby and life skills so she could bring these lessons back to develop every child in her village.

Der Ha commented on activities in her district, “All rugby athletes took the lessons learned from our rugby training to apply in their daily lives. There were many athletes participating in the rugby training and the life-skills lessons helped them learn how to make plans for their lives and future goals.”

In the past Der Ha had never been to other districts and provinces, but after being selected as a rugby Coach, she attended the training in Vientiane capital, so she had a chance to see a developed town, which contributed to her way of thinking. For example, she wanted to complete her study first before getting married. She also said: “I do not want to get married too early as our lives have a long way to go. I want to develop myself and all children.

If married, we will lose our opportunity and our development will be stopped. In addition, my life will also become difficult and face with many hardships because when we get married too early, we will not be educated enough and our health condition could negatively impact on our children or we may not be able to raise our children.” She added that she had seen many of her friends, who did not participate in our activities, marry at very young ages.

In the future, Der Ha wants to be a medical doctor because she wants to take care of her own family and others. But if she is not able to study in a medical program, she will take the Information and Technology course as she wants to learn more about computer application.

From this case study, we can see that Der Ha never played rugby before, but she really wants to develop children in her own community. She attended the short training in Phonsavanh and then other trainings in Vientiane Capital. At the trainings, she learned how to provide first aid care, how to train rugby and how to teach life-skills to children. She hopes the activities will continue in her village so that herself and other athletes will be able to develop in rugby and many children will be able to learn how to plan for their future. Coaches will also be able to further apply their abilities to train children.

By being a Coach, she learns how to set her own goals because she has an opportunity to learn from different districts and provinces, knowing how far they have developed. Der Ha wants to complete her study and to have a secured job before getting married. That is a very good example for girls. Finally, by involving in some medical lessons at the Lao Rugby Federation, she’s become really interested in medicine and wants to study this program further.