Stories: Children, Communities, Futures

Training youth to Pass It Back in Asia

In July 2015, 57 young people from Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia came together in Vientiane, the capital of Laos, to participate in a two-week training program to learn about rugby and life-skills coaching. It was all part of the new regional Pass It Back program, which ChildFund Australia is working on in partnership with Women Win and Asia Rugby.

Pass It Back is an innovative program using rugby to equip children and young people in Asia to overcome challenges, inspire positive social change and €˜pass it back` to their communities.

The first-ever coaches training camp was a truly regional affair with the program led by a team of trainers from ChildFund Australia, Women Win, Asia Rugby, the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union, Japan Rugby Football Union, Lao Red Cross and the Lao Rugby Federation.

Pass It Back Director, Chris Mastaglio says: “For many of the youth who participated in the training, this was their first time travelling outside their community. It was incredible to watch the participants go beyond their language barriers to connect and learn from each other.

“The training equipped the coaches with not only rugby skills but also leadership and life-skills. They have now all returned to their communities where they are registering children and youth to get involved in Pass It Back so they too can build their leadership and life-skills through rugby.”

Mother-of-one Tiem, is one of the 20 youth from Hoa Binh province in northern Vietnam who travelled to Vientiane by bus for the Pass It Back training. Now 21, Tiem dropped out of school in grade eight. To support their four-year-old daughter, Tiem and her husband work together on their farm.

“I loved the training. It brought me back to my childhood. Even though I did not know any Lao I found out I could still communicate with people there,” she says.

For young people in Tiem`s village, one of the main issues affecting them is the lack of job opportunities. For most people farming is the only option to earn an income. There are also limited chances for children to stand up and raise their voices within their families and communities.

“I decided to take part in Pass It Back because I want my little girl to have the opportunity to have choices in her life,” says Tiem. “I also thought if my little girl participated in these kinds of activities then she will have good health and skills for life.”

For Tiem and her fellow coaches from Hoa Binh province, they are now working on recruiting children and youth, especially girls, to take part in the project to help build their confidence and improve their leadership skills.

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