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Lar is 16 years old and lives in Nonghet District, Xieng Khouang Province. This region of Laos has some of the highest levels of unexploded ordnance contamination in the country.
A lasting legacy of the Vietnam war, this means that safe spaces to play are limited, and many young people here have never had the opportunity to take part in organised sport. Lar is one of them.
Lar has yet to miss a training session since she began playing rugby.
A proud rugby player
Since she first set foot on the rugby field, Lar’s experience in the game has been extremely positive.
She says: “I joined ChildFund Pass It Back because I saw my friends playing rugby and I became so interested to play, to know more about rugby. I applied to become a player in the ‘Frog and Turtle team and, when I first started, I wanted to go and practice all the time!”
Now, she is a proud player with the ‘Never Give Up’ team. “I am so happy to join this team because my close friends were already players. It gave me the courage and motivation, and I have never missed a single practice.”
It’s not all about the win
Winning games is not a priority, as Lar says it is more important for the players to know that they have tried their best, and to focus on how to improve their game play in the next match. But achieving first place at the end of the competition was a proud moment for everyone.
“We all improved our rugby skills, helped each other as friends and teammates, and had much better communication while playing,” explains Lar.
The life skills curriculum of ChildFund Pass It Back has also been hugely valuable for Lar. She explains: “Before participating in ChildFund Pass It Back, I thought that men had more rights than women. But now, I know more about gender equity – that women also have the same rights as men, and that women can do things just like men. This has changed my thinking. I believe that women also have the right to speak out just like men.”
Learning life skills through sport
In 2017, Lar travelled to Belfast to compete in a tag rugby competition as part of the Women’s Rugby World Cup. She was one of five player from Laos who made up the Southeast Asia Dragons team, which also included 10 other ChildFund Pass It Back players from Vietnam and the Philippines.
It was an incredible experience for her: “I felt so happy because I had a chance to visit Ireland; a place I have never been before. I also learnt new rugby skills, such as passing, and I had the chance to learn some Filipino and Vietnamese from the other ChildFund Pass It Back players.
“We all got to stay together, so we could learn each other’s language and spend time together. In Ireland, we got to see so many beautiful places. I went to the beach, to the mountain which people call the Sleeping Giant, and we also saw a rugby match between Australia and Ireland!”
A young woman full of passion and adventure
Today, Lar is a young woman who knows that passion, perseverance and hard work can pay off. As a rugby player with ChildFund Pass It Back, she has not only taken part in the adventure of a lifetime, but now has life-long skills, knowledge and increased personal confidence on which to build her future.