Lao Rugby Federation Hosts Champa Ban powered by ChildFund Pass It Back Children’s Day Competition in Vientiane

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(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. 

Read Full Champa Ban Finals Competition Press Release Here.

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.