Australian rugby stars, including Charlotte Caslick and John Eales, are getting behind a major international partnership between World Rugby and ChildFund, launched today, to change children’s lives through the transformative power of sport, as part of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.
World Rugby Chief Executive Officer Brett Gosper said: “We awarded the tournament to Japan because we knew that it could be a powerful game-changer for sporting and social change in Asia. As a transformational rugby for good program, ChildFund Pass It Back is the perfect embodiment of that objective and we are excited about the impact rugby can have to thousands of children within the world’s most populous and youthful continent.
“Rugby is a sport of character-building values and we have witnessed the solidarity of the rugby community in rallying behind Kamaishi and I am sure that fans purchasing tickets for Asia’s first Rugby World Cup will be generous in supporting rugby programmes that will make a real and lasting difference to thousands of disadvantaged children.”
Funds raised through the partnership will enable the award-winning ChildFund Pass It Back program to be expanded in Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines, and extended to other developing countries in the region. Donated funds will also assist with emergency relief efforts in disaster-affected areas in Japan.
Over 20,000 children from disadvantaged communities across Asia will benefit.
ChildFund Alliance Chair Michael Rose said: “This is an exciting opportunity. We believe every child has the right to play, which is why ChildFund’s Pass it Back program was originally established for children in rural and remote communities of Laos and Vietnam. These are children who face significant challenges around poverty and inequality.
“Well designed sport for development programs are a proven way to achieve positive social outcomes, such as building resilience, youth leadership and gender equity. ChildFund Pass It Back helps young people to develop the skills they need to keep themselves safe in what is a rapidly changing environment, and support global efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 16.2 – to end all forms of violence against children.”
The ChildFund Pass It Back program has already assisted thousands of children and youth across Asia, with its unique curriculum using tag rugby to help young people in a range of areas, including leadership, problem solving, gender equity, conflict resolution and planning for the future.
Australian rugby legend, John Eales AM, said: “I am very pleased to see that World Rugby and ChildFund are joining forces for Rugby World Cup 2019. Through this partnership, vulnerable children in Asia will get the opportunity to play rugby, and also benefit from a program which will give them important, and life-long, skills and knowledge.”
Australian Rugby Sevens player Charlotte Caslick OAM said: “I’ve just returned from Laos where I experienced firsthand the power of rugby in sharing sports, leadership and life skills with children who face challenges many of us here in Australia cannot imagine.
“It’s great to see so many girls and young women getting involved in the program, which has a strong emphasis on gender equality – over 50 per cent of all players and coaches involved in ChildFund Pass It Back are female which is amazing.”
Nigel Spence, ChildFund Australia CEO, said: “Through the partnership with World Rugby, ChildFund will reach more marginalised young people in Asia – girls, children from poor communities, young people living in rural and remote areas who have never had the opportunity to take part in organised sport before.
Raelene Castle, Rugby Australia CEO, said: “Sport has the incredible power to unite people and communities. Many of our Australian rugby players have experienced this first hand when visiting ChildFund Pass It Back training sessions in Laos and Vietnam. As we celebrate the game of rugby at the Rugby World Cup In Japan, this partnership shines an international light on the importance of children everywhere having the opportunity to play, participate in organised sport and enjoy its many life-changing benefits.”
 ChildFund Pass It Back won the UNICEF Safeguarding Children in Sport Award at the prestigious Beyond Sport Global Awards in 2017.