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Many of the players and coaches who are involved in the ChildFund Pass It Back program had never previously taken part in organised sport. ChildFund uses rugby to transcend social and cultural barriers, and to uphold every child’s right to play.
One thing we’ve learned is that rugby creates heroes. The children who participate in our combined rugby and life skills curriculum, experience a transformation. They learn new perspectives, connect with others in their community, and become role models for the generation to follow.
With this in mind, we’ve collected the stories of ten heroes from the program. They come from Laos and Vietnam. They’re male and female. They’re aged 12-33. Now they’ll tell you how their lives have changed forever.
“I learnt that women can play sport and become leaders.”
- Lan, 22 years old, Vietnam
I felt proud of myself, that I had the strength to follow my passion for being a coach.
Girls are never told that they have the right to play. Sport is generally seen as something just for men and boys, not for women and girls.
I learnt that women can play sport and become leaders.
“Now I have friends around the world.”
- Lao Khang, 27 years old, Laos
Rugby is an exciting way to educate children. When we play games, we teach children about things such as the importance of hand-washing, manners and respect for elders and friendship.
Before I began playing rugby I only knew people in my small village. Now I have friends around the world.
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.
“I can comfortably talk to everyone and I can even confidently speak up”
- Nhan, Vietnam
I didn’t know what rugby was. I just thought it would be a fun game to play. But when I joined the ChildFund Pass It Back program, I discovered that it is so much more than sport.
Now I can comfortably talk to everyone, and I can even confidently speak up about my opinions and not worry about being judged.
“I spoke to more people and learned from different people’s experiences how to be a leader.”
- Bounpasong, 16 years old, Laos
When I qualified as a coach, I spoke to more people and learned from different people’s experiences how to be a leader. Now, I use my leadership skills in team training. I need to be a good role model so that everybody follows the rugby principles of honesty, solidarity, passion, respect and discipline.
I want to give more opportunities to disadvantaged children because I used to be in their situation. I want to improve the lives of children in my community.
“…women can do things just like men. This has changed my thinking.”
- Lar, 16 years old, Laos
Rugby has given me so much courage and motivation! I love playing so much that I have never missed a single practice.
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 now know that everyone has the same rights”
- Mo, Vietnam
I now know that everyone has the same rights, regardless of social class, religion or social status, and everyone has the right to voice their thoughts and opinions, and to be respected and protected.
“…I was able to learn other perspectives”
- Hien, Vietnam
When I started coaching, I started to learn more about gender, and I would share my opinions about this topic with my players and listen to their opinions in return. By doing this, I was able to learn other perspectives about gender and adjust my own negative ideas and attitudes.
“Being a coach…has brought us closer together.”
- Nga, 33 years old, Vietnam
Being a coach and spending time in the evenings with my daughter discussing the content has brought us closer together.
I know my daughter very much wants to be a teacher, so I am not surprised to see her want to become a coach.
“I want to remove all the boundaries between us.”
- Truong, 25 years old, Vietnam
As a ChildFund Pass It Back assistant coach, I want to act as a friend, a big brother, with my players. I want to remove all the boundaries between us, and be a person willing to listen and support them. In particular, because all of my male players are in their teenage years, so fighting, arguing or teasing sometimes happens among them.
I am pleased and proud of being recognised by my community, and I will try to improve myself further. I think that people who work and interact with children should be aware of their actions because, for example, the methods of communication that we use on the pitch and in daily life will be observed and learnt by the players.
“I get to be active, run around and play…”
- Duoc, 12 years old, Vietnam
I love playing rugby! I’m happy that I get to be active, run around and play with friends.
Help us create heroes
No one becomes a hero overnight. As we’ve heard, playing rugby and participating in life skills training has helped our players and coaches find meaning, and a new way of life, one they didn’t know could be theirs.
Every child has the right to play, learn and grow. You can help us provide more children across South East Asia with the same opportunities as Lan, Nhan and all the other young people who have benefitted from participating in ChildFund Pass It Back. Donate today, and help us create heroes.