26 July 2018: Over 300 representatives from Australia’s rugby and international development communities came together last night at Sydney’s Ivy Ballroom, raising over $150k to support children living in developing communities in Asia.
Special guests included famed Wallaby legends George Gregan and Stephen Larkham, Wentworth star Danielle Cormack, and Wallaroo Emily Chancellor.
Frankie J Holden and wife Michelle Pettigrove, actors and long-time Ambassadors of ChildFund, shared MC duties on the night alongside guest interviewer Tracey Holmes of the ABC.
Nigel Spence, CEO of ChildFund, said: “This event was a unique opportunity to raise support for children in our region and celebrate ChildFund’s appointment as principal charity partner for Rugby World Cup 2019.
“This year, we have seen thousands of rugby fans around the globe show their support for ChildFund Pass It Back, our award-winning sport for development program.
“Last night, this generosity was matched by the rugby community in Australia. The funds donated will ensure that more children from developing communities get the opportunity to learn, play and grow through rugby.”
Using an integrated life skills and rugby curriculum, ChildFund Pass it Back not only promotes the right to play in communities where children have little or no access to organised sport, but provides important learning opportunities around leadership, problem-solving, gender equity, conflict-resolution and planning for the future.
Currently being implemented in Laos, The Philippines, Timor-Leste and Vietnam, the program strengthens the resilience of disadvantaged children and youth, and equips young people to overcome challenges, inspire positive social change and ‘pass it back’ to their communities.
One of the most remarkable achievements of ChildFund Pass it Back has been its success in attracting girls and young women to the game of rugby – over 50% of all players and coaches are female.
Lao Khang, a former ChildFund Pass It Back player who comes from a remote and rural village in the north of Laos, also attended the event.
A member of the Laos National Women’s Team, Lao Khang was listed in the BBC’s 100 Women of 2018. Working with the Lao Rugby Federation, which partners with ChildFund to implement ChildFund Pass It Back, Lao Khang is still actively involved in the program that had such an enormous impact on her own life.
She said: “I want to help involve as many Lao girls and women from rural and remote communities as possible in rugby so they too can feel brave and strong.”
ChildFund Ambassador and rugby great Stephen Larkham, who visited Laos earlier this year to see ChildFund’s work in rural communities, said: “ChildFund Pass It Back gives children in developing communities in the Asia Pacific region the opportunity to play tag rugby and learn important life skills.
“For these kids, from poor, low income communities, taking part is life-changing. I think it is an amazing program. I’ve never seen anything like it, and it makes me proud to be associated with rugby.”