Today marks the official start of Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan.

ChildFund is honoured to be World Rugby’s principal charity partner for the event and deeply appreciative of the support given by the global rugby family, and the attention being drawn to children’s needs in the region.

As one of the world’s biggest and most widely viewed sporting events, Rugby World Cup 2019 will generate massive interest, showcase elite athletes and present some of the world’s very best teams.

It will also be a reminder of the importance of children’s right to play and the transformative power that sport can have in the lives of children and young people – particularly those facing significant challenges.

Children in Laos

This Rugby World Cup will highlight the transformative power that sport can have in the lives of children and young people – particularly those facing significant challenges.

In this 30th anniversary year of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, it is clear that far too many children still lack the rights and protections they need to survive and thrive. Many children live with disadvantage and widening inequality.

The work of ChildFund and others – especially the initiative of community members themselves – is vital in giving children education, healthcare, protection and opportunity.

Sport for development is one proven way to facilitate change for disadvantaged youth in developing communities.

Through the unique and innovative partnership between World Rugby, Asia Rugby and ChildFund, children and young people are gaining important learning opportunities as well as the chance to take part in organised sport, often for the very first time.

Today, the ChildFund Pass It Back program has over 10,000 registered players and 500 coaches in four countries. It also has a 50% female participation rate, and evaluations point to its effectiveness in driving change in local communities.

Girls from poor households at risk of child marriage are discovering new aspirations for themselves as peer support counsellors, small business leaders and teachers of the future.

Boys forced to drop out from school are re-building their confidence and setting up new livelihood opportunities.

In Asia, a continent home to 60% of the world’s youth, ChildFund Pass It Back is helping build a new generation of leaders.

Tonight, as rugby fans everywhere celebrate the first day of Rugby World Cup 2019,  there is also reason to cheer for this unique opportunity that will ‘pass it back’ and give more children the chance to play, learn and grow.

ChildFund Australia would like to acknowledge the long-term support provided to ChildFund Pass It Back by the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs. The Australian Aid program has allowed us to share the transformative benefits of sport with thousands of children living in disadvantaged communities in Asia.