(3 June, 2018) Vientiane, Lao PDR - To celebrate International Children’s Day, the Lao Rugby Federation (LRF) hosted a full weekend of matches for over 30 Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back teams from across Vientiane. Over the course of two days, U13 and U16 players had an opportunity to participate in tag rugby matches and engage in safeguarding and life skills activities that form the foundation of the ChildFund Pass It Back curriculum.
Organized and led by the LRF’s Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back Coaches, the competition featured a tag rugby tournament as well as activities designed to introduce players to key safeguarding and first aid components of the LRF’s Safeguarding Policy.
Saturday saw U13 teams from across Vientiane Capital come together to compete and also featured a visit from the Australian Ambassador to Laos, Mr. Jean-Bernard Carrasco. During his visit, Ambassador Carrasco learned about the LRF’s Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back youth rugby work, watched several tag rugby matches between teams, and commented on the importance of sport in the lives of young people: “I think all kids should have the opportunity to play sports. Not only does it teach them to be healthy, but sport also teaches them important life skills."
Sunday’s matches featured U16 teams from across Vientiane and was attended by LRF President Mr. Virayouth Rathikoun, who commented on the improvement seen among certain U16 players who have been participating in the Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back youth rugby program for several years: “We’ve seen many strong young players come through the Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back activities and are excited to continue to develop these players as both athletes and community leaders.”
Champa Ban, meaning “flowering blossom” in Lao language, includes all youth rugby activities offered by the LRF. This weekend’s competition served as a capstone to the fourth full season of ChildFund Pass It Back in Laos. Originally piloted and developed in rural Xieng Khouang Province with support from Pass It Back partners ChildFund Australia, World Rugby, Asia Rugby, and Women Win, the ChildFund Pass It Back curriculum has since expanded across more than 9 districts in Laos and to Vietnam and the Philippines.
The ChildFund Pass It Back curriculum integrates rugby and life skills training to provide lessons in a number of areas including gender, planning for the future, being healthy, preventing violence, safeguarding and leadership.
This season, over 400 players on 33 teams in Vientiane Capital participated in Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back Of these, 57% of registered players are female, helping to make the LRF’s overall female participation rate the highest of any rugby union in the world. Nearly 600 more players are involved in Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back in Xieng Khouang Province, pushing the total registered youth player count to over 3,000.
In the coming months, the LRF plans to build on the successes of the Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back Youth Programme in Laos by growing in 42 schools in Vientiane Capital as well as further expansion to Vientiane Province and expanding into more schools and villages and into a third district, Kham District, in Xieng Khouang Province.
By working closely with the Ministry of Education and Sport at all levels, the LRF will expand from 100 teams to 150 teams across the country by 2019. To ensure that the ChildFund Pass It Back curriculum is properly implemented for these new teams, the LRF will train and upskill 80 coaches at the upcoming 2018 Coach Training. Coaches will work in pairs across all many districts to deliver weekly curriculum sessions and build strong rugby players and community leaders across Laos.
We would like to thank our ChildFund Pass It Back partners including ChildFund Australia, World Rugby, Asia Rugby, and Women Win for powering Pass It Back in Laos. We would also like to thank Australian Aid and ChildFund Australia for their generous support for the youth program in Laos. Finally, many thanks to the Australian Embassy and Ambassador Jean-Bernard Carrasco for their interest and continued support of the LRF.
We would like to also thank our Champa Ban Your Rugby sponsors Vientiane College, DFDL Legal & Tax, Coca Cola, Pot Bellied Pigs RFC, Cairnhill Structures, PROJECX, 1765 Gemini, DHL, and DAC Management LLC. for their ongoing contributions to youth rugby in Laos. We would also like to thank the Friends of Lao Rugby in Hong Kong, led by Kowloon Rugby Football Club and ESF Kennedy School along with Escapade Sports and Streamline Sports, who have worked to raise awareness for rugby in Laos and provide significant support to Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back youth players in the form of donated items. Finally, we would like to thank Shrewsbury House School who is running a shoe collection scheme in the United Kingdom which has donated over 700 pairs of shoes and other equipment to Champa Ban players in Laos over the past year.