Through the training sessions, Than not only realised how much she loved the game, but that she was really good at it. She could run fast and catch the ball easily. Through the life skills lessons, each of which is linked with to the five rugby values – integrity, passion, solidarity, discipline and respect – Than’s self confidence grew. She made more friends and laughed more often.
It has now been over a year since Than first passed the egg-shaped ball. She is one of more than 1,500 ChildFund Pass It Back players in Kim Boi, Vietnam and among the very first female Vietnamese rugby players in the country. Today, she is also one of the young people on that early morning bus, laughing with her friends on their way to the District stadium.
As they reach their destination, the sun shines bright and burns away the fog. Buses with players from other communes also arrive and Vietnam’s newest generation of rugby players pour out from the vehicles.
Than joins her friends and coaches to do a pitch safety check. They pick up any hard objects from the pitch such as stones, and begin the team warm-up. A voice echoes from a loudspeaker on the stage. Than turns her head to the sound, her hair blowing in the breeze; somebody is calling her team back to their tent.
The sun fills up the stadium with its gentle warmth and the stadium bursts into cheering. The games are on.
ChildFund Pass It Back is an innovative Sport for Development program led by ChildFund in partnership with World Rugby, Asia Rugby and Women Win. This program has the support of the Australian Government.