Coaches and Rugby Leaders Reaching New Heights in Laos

Vientiane, 15 March 2018: The Lao Rugby Federation (LRF), in partnership with key supporters including Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRU), DAC, and ChildFund Pass It Back, has propelled its training and education programs to new successes. The last year has seen the continued expansion of the LRF’s Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back youth rugby program. Through this success, the LRF has worked to provide pathways for young rugby leaders to develop their skills through World Rugby certification trainings and has doubled the number of certified individuals in Laos with dozens more young Lao coaches and players working towards their certifications.

The LRF’s largest training and education initiative revolves around the LRF’s groundbreaking Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back youth rugby program, which focuses heavily on providing training and educational opportunities to young coaches. Since 2015, the LRF has hosted four ChildFund Pass It Back Coach Trainings, allowing coaches to improve their skills and earn new coaching level certificates including Bronze, Silver, and Silver+. These trainings have been run in partnership with ChildFund, Women Win, Asia Rugby and World Rugby; at the most recent Coach Training in July 2017, 68 coaches received new certification levels and the accompanying knowledge in rugby coaching and refereeing, life skills coaching, safeguarding, first aid and team management. With a female participation rate of 54% and a focus on recruiting coaches with no prior rugby background, the LRF has been able to reach individuals previously left out of traditional coaching and sport leadership activities.

One individual with little rugby background who has gone on to become a successful rugby coach and player is Noy, a female Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back Coach. One aspect of being a Coach that Noy enjoys is the opportunity to be a leader: “I am a secondary school student who is still being taught by teachers, but I am now also coaching and imparting knowledge to players, which challenges me a lot. However, I love being a coach because it allows me to not only learn how to be a leader, but also how I can integrate many of the lessons and life skills into my daily life.” From beginning as a Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back Coach to her budding career as a rugby player, Noy has benefitted greatly from the opportunities provided through rugby.

Building off of the training and education opportunities provided through the ChildFund Pass It Back curriculum, the LRF began expanding access to World Rugby Certification courses, allowing successful Champa Ban Coaches to build their knowledge of rugby in a variety of areas. Since September 2017, the LRF has hosted 1 World Rugby Course in Strength and Conditioning (the first ever delivered in Laos), 4 courses in Officiating, and 5 courses in 7s and 15s Coaching.

In October, the LRF hosted a series of Level 1 Coaching, Officiating and Strength and Conditioning Courses supported by World Rugby, Thai Rugby Union and ChildFund Pass It Back. These courses saw 52 individuals from Vientiane and Xieng Khouang receive their qualifications. Additionally, the first 5 Vietnamese ChildFund Pass It Back Coaches traveled to Vientiane to study coaching and officiating and received their Level 1 qualifications, displaying the regional impact of the LRF’s continued efforts.

From 29 November - 2 December, the LRF also hosted the first Olympic Solidarity Coach Training Course in partnership with World Rugby and the Lao National Olympic Committee. The Course offered World Rugby Coaching Level 1 and 2 training to 20 participants with the LRF’s Rugby Development Manager, Mr. Pisa Vongdeuanpheng, co-facilitating along with Chris Garvey of Hong Kong Rugby and Football Club.

The LRF also hosted a World Rugby Level 2 Officials training for the first time in history in November, 2017 with a follow up workshop lead by Rugby World Cup Official Leah Berard in February, 2018. The newly trained Level 2 officials practiced their refereeing skills at the recent DHL Vientiane International Championship. “A key aspect of continuing the growth of rugby in Laos is having well-trained, confident referees who can maintain a safe playing environment for players of all skill levels. As we continue to train Lao referees, the LRF becomes able to host increasing numbers of competitions, allowing players and referees opportunities to improve and show their abilities”, commented Mr. Virayouth Rathikoun, LRF President.

Through the provision of so many World Rugby courses in Laos, key LRF staff have been able to rapidly improve their knowledge, including Mr. Pisa Vongdeuanpheng, the LRF’s Rugby Development Manager. In 2017, Mr. Vongdeuanpheng earned his World Rugby Coach Educator qualification, placing him among the highest levels of rugby leaders and coaches worldwide. Mr. Vongdeuanpheng is the first person in Laos to be given the title, and he is now qualified to lead World Rugby Level 1 certification courses.

Mr. Vongdeuanpheng plans to use his new qualifications to continue educating members of the Lao Rugby community in the World Rugby certificates that are key to expanding and improving the level of rugby in Laos. As the size of the Lao Rugby community continues to grow, it is necessary that players and coaches are taught necessary skills at a world-class level, and Mr. Vongdeuanpheng is now ready and able to drive rugby in Laos to a new level of expertise.

In addition to Mr. Vongdeuanpheng’s achievements, Ms. Viengsamai Souksavanh recently earned her World Rugby Level 2 Coaching qualification, becoming the first Lao woman to earn this honor. Last fall, Ms. Viengsamai was able to utilize her coaching skills in her role as Head Coach of the DAC Lao U17 Women’s National Team, who earned three victories at the 2017 Asia Rugby U17 Sevens.

Pisa and Viengsamai are two leaders in the LRF’s newly formed National Team Leadership Committee. The Committee, supported by Hong Kong Rugby Football Union (HKRU) and DAC, works to train and advise Lao leaders in overseeing the DAC Lao National Teams. The Committee meets with advisers from HKRU quarterly to plan and review Lao elite program strategy. Following the Committee’s first workshop in September, 2017, Committee members went on to coach the DAC U17 Lao Women’s National Team to victories in Dubai and the DAC U16 Lao Men’s Nagas to an undefeated Cup win at the Chonburi Youth Rugby Challenge. The LRF hopes to see the National Team Leadership Committee continue to build on this success  in 2018.

The Lao Rugby Federation would like to thank Chris Garvey, Steve Jones, and the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union for their continued dedication to providing World Rugby courses in Laos. The LRF would also like to thank the Lao National Olympic Committee and the Thai Rugby Union for their assistance in providing the most recent round of World Rugby Level 1 and 2 Coach Trainings. Finally, the LRF would like to thank Platinum Sponsor DAC, who has been a longtime supporter of the LRF’s Elite programme, and ChildFund Pass It Back, whose support grants young rugby players and coaches across Laos opportunities to learn and grow through rugby.

 Read the full “Coaches Reach New Heights in Laos” press release here.