Giving female rugby players from Asia’s poorest communities a once in a lifetime opportunity

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BELFAST, NORTHERN IRELAND and SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – 8 JUNE 2017: Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017 is set to inspire young female rugby players from disadvantaged communities in Asia, with the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU), World Rugby and ChildFund Pass It Back giving them the opportunity to visit Ireland and take part in an international rugby competition.

ChildFund Pass It Back is an innovative Sport for Development program led by ChildFund in partnership with World Rugby, Asia Rugby and Women Win that delivers an integrated life skills and rugby curriculum for children and young people in disadvantaged communities across Asia.

To date, more than 3,000 children and youth from Laos, the Philippines and Vietnam have benefitted from participation in the program, with girls making up over 50 per cent of the players and coaches.

Chris Mastaglio, Director of ChildFund Pass It Back, said: “Working in partnership with the IRFU and World Rugby, we decided to hold this event in the lead-up to the Women’s Rugby Cup Final to show that women and girls’ rugby is developing across the world – from international players at the event, to grassroots players from countries like Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines. In addition, ChildFund’s Pass It Back program prioritises gender equity and the inclusion of girls, so we will have lots of female players from Asia taking part who can be inspired by their peers in Belfast.”

“It’s incredibly exciting – many of our young coaches and players have not left their province before, let alone flown on a plane to a different country. This is going to be such a great opportunity for them, and we thank IRFU for helping to make this happen.Û”

Youth coming from Asia will play under the banner of the South-East Asian Dragons, and will compete with girls teams from across Belfast in a participation tag rugby event, the ChildFund Pass It Back Cup 2017 Belfast at Belfast Harlequins RFC on 21 August, the day before the Women’s Rugby World Cup Final.

Nora Stapleton, Women’s and Girls’ Development Manager of the IRFU, said: “We are delighted to include ChildFund Pass It Back in our Impact Beyond programmes for Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017, and we look forward to seeing girls from Belfast and surrounding areas welcoming girls from communities across Asia.”

ChildFund Pass It Back was established for young people who face significant poverty and have few, if any, opportunities to get involved in organised sport. For young girls, the obstacles are even greater.

“It is an absolute privilege for the IRFU to be able to support the development of new talent in these remote areas – by sharing our skills and knowledge we can get both young women and men excited about the game, and inspire a whole new generation of players in Asia.”

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA, 6 April 2017: This International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, two Australian organisations are highlighting the importance of sport in a unique partnership.

Australian Rugby Union (ARU) and ChildFund Australia have been working together to give children from some of the poorest regions in Asia the chance to take part in an innovative sport for development program: Pass It Back.

With funding support from the Australian Government, the ARU and ChildFund have been working together with non-government organisations and national rugby federations in Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines to grow and expand ChildFund’s successful Pass it Back program.

Using a fully integrated rugby and life-skills curriculum, 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, life skills and gender equality.

Earlier this year, two of Australia’s top rugby players, Lewis Holland and Nicole Beck, spent three days in Kim Boi in northern Vietnam running coaching and referee clinics and supporting a team competition involving more than 160 young players and coaches from remote communities of Laos and Vietnam.

Gold medallist Nicole Beck says of the experience: “It was a privilege to be able to travel to these communities and support the development of new talent. I am particularly impressed that in Laos and Vietnam, where rugby is a relatively new sport, so many girls and young women are jumping in and giving it a go.”

ChildFund’s Pass it Back program was set up for children in rural and remote communities of Laos and Vietnam, who face significant challenges around poverty and inequality. Now, working in partnership with the ARU, Pass It Back will be expanded to marginalised communities in the Philippines ensuring more children will be able to overcome challenges, inspire positive change and ‘pass it back’ to their communities.

ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence said: “The knowledge, skills and attitudes built through this program will support young people to overcome these challenges, and be strong leaders and role models within their communities. We are very excited to be partnering with the ARU, one of the world’s leading national governing bodies for rugby, to expand the Pass it Back program to more children in Asia.”

To date, more than 2,500 children and youth in some of the remotest and poorest communities in Laos and Vietnam have benefitted from participation in the program, with girls making up more than 50 per cent of the players and coaches.

Adam Thomas, Head of Community and Pacific Partnerships at Australian Rugby Union said: “The ARU has significant experience in implementing sport for development programs in the Pacific and we’re looking forward to building on that work in Asia through this partnership with ChildFund.

“One of the most remarkable achievements of Pass it Back has been its success in attracting girls and young women to the game of rugby. As we work with ChildFund to extend the program, we hope more women and girls are just as eager to try it out.”