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After a year of rising above challenges to continue delivering impact despite lockdowns and restrictions, partners and supporters brought back the action to the pitch in 2022. Whether in rural communities or on the global stage, they used the power of sport to change people’s lives.
It was also a year when women and girls defied traditional gender expectations in sport — from taking on more influential roles in sport organisations to making HERstory as they filled up a 37-acre stadium with fans from all over the world.
As the year ends, we look back at 22 great moments in 2022, made possible by partners and supporters.
1. Rugby royalty Rusila Nagasau and Jerry Tuwai are new Get into Rugby Plus – Fiji ambassadors
Olympic gold medalists and rugby royalty Rusila Nagasau and Jerry Tuwai showed their commitment to gender equality in Fiji by joining the Get into Rugby PLUS – Fiji family as Ambassadors.
“I’m so happy to be an Ambassador for Get into Rugby PLUS. It has done much to encourage more girls to play rugby and for women to coach. But even more importantly, it is changing mindsets of girls and boys around gender equality, and there is no place for violence, ever,” said Rusila.
2. Bhubesi Pride Foundation joins the ChildFund family
ChildFund Sport for Development (S4D) and Bhubesi Pride Foundation Malawi (BPF) forged a partnership this year. The collaboration aims to reach more children and young people in Malawi through integrated sport and life skills learning to challenge harmful gender stereotypes and equip young people with leadership skills.
Read more here.
3. PRFU and ChildFund Rugby launch new Club Champions project
The Philippine Rugby Football Union (PRFU) and ChildFund Rugby officially launched the Club Champions project this year! “For us, rugby is important in building solidarity across the country and in empowering young people, especially women and girls. We welcome this project especially during these times when the country is starting to open up after lockdowns,” said Acee San Juan, PRFU’s General Manager for Development, Competitions and Training & Education.
Read more here.
4. ChildFund Rugby partners with more than 20 organisations globally to keep everyone safe in sport
To date, ChildFund Rugby has worked with 22 rugby governing bodies across 4 continents including Oceania, North Americas, Africa and Asia to provide tailored support to develop and improve their safeguarding practice – six of these during 2022.
5. Cambodia Federation of Rugby and ChildFund Rugby inks new partnership deal
Last January, the Cambodia Federation of Rugby and ChildFund Rugby renewed their commitment to work together to improve the lives of children and young people in the country through rugby.
“This partnership coincides with our federation’s objective: to use sport as a tool for social inclusion and education for children and young people in communities,” said Pich Ratana, CFR Secretary General. Read more here.
6. Sport as a salve to the mental health impacts of the pandemic
Since the pandemic started in 2020, mental health among young people went on a decline partly due to isolation and, in some cases, being stuck in an unsafe environment. This year, evidence showed that social support through sport is good for mental health. Among ChildFund Rugby’s partnerships, 82% of players say their Coaches make them feel safe. Meanwhile, 73% developed positive peer support networks while 88% hold one of their Coaches as a role model.
7. Rugby Sevens Exhibition Event at the 11th Lao National Games
This December, the Lao Rugby Federation (LRF) successfully hosted the Rugby Sevens Exhibition Event in the 11th Lao National Games, at Saysana Stadium on 8 December. The event marked the first time rugby has been included in the Lao National Games.
“The pathways the LRF has in place allow young people to begin their rugby journey with no previous understanding or experience of rugby… The LRF has achieved World Rugby Full Membership in 2020 and this year, LRF hosted the Rugby Sevens exhibition match of the Lao National Games. This shows the success of and opportunity for the model to produce a strong, well-rounded rugby community,” said Viengsamai Souksavanh, LRF CEO.
8. Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 partners with ChildFund
Rugby World Cup Sevens 2022 partnered with ChildFund last September to help improve the lives of children and young people across Africa. A first-ever charitable partnership for a Rugby World Cup Sevens, ChildFund and World Rugby have now partnered together on three successive Rugby World Cups after having already been appointed Principal Charity Partners of Rugby World Cup 2021 in New Zealand as well as taking on the same role at Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan. Read more here.
9. ChildFund Rugby launches Play for ImpACT
ChildFund Rugby launched “Play for ImpACT,” a campaign urging the global rugby family to support women and girls to have equal opportunities to play, learn, and lead on and off the pitch. The launch coincided with the countdown to the Rugby World Cup 2021. ChildFund Rugby is the first ever Principal Charity for the women’s edition. Read more here.
10. Grassroots to Global Connect Forum in New Zealand
During Rugby World Cup 2021, the women of Grassroots to Global successfully held the first Grassroots to Global Connect Forum in New Zealand. Community leaders from Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, Brazil, Mexico, USA, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Cook Islands, Australia and Kenya came together to identify and challenge barriers to community participation in rugby. The forum also strengthened the community leaders’ global network of women in rugby. Follow their Instagram to learn more.
11. Honey Hireme-Smiler visits Get into Rugby PLUS – Fiji
It was a day of playing and rugby camaraderie when former Black Ferns and ChildFund Rugby Ambassador Honey Hireme-Smiler visited Get Into Rugby PLUS – Fiji Coaches and players in Nadi, Fiji. It was great to see grassroots and global rugby leaders coming together to inspire others through rugby! Watch her visit here.
12. Women of the Future Awards recognises ChildFund Rugby partners
Last year, Coach Bui Thanh Huyen from Kim Boi Rugby Association won the Women of the Future Southeast Asia Award. This year, ChildFund Rugby is happy to see three more women leading rugby in the region shortlisted and recognised for this prestigious award!
Phann Sreyneang, Grassroots to Global Leadership Team member from the Cambodia Federation of Rugby received a commendation, while Lao Rugby Federation CEO Viengsamai Souksavanh and Coach Naly Xaidaoheuang were also nominated for the Sport Category. Congratulations!
13. Inaugural ChildFund Rugby Awards recognises partners
Last October, Lao Rugby Federation CEO Viengsamai Souksavanh won a Leadership Award in the Inaugural ChildFund Rugby Awards. Also recognised for their contributions as partners in rugby for social impact were DHL Rugby, and the Lao Ministry of Education and Sport.
Held in New Zealand, the event was also attended by VIPs including ChildFund Rugby Ambassadors Honey Hireme-Smiler and Mere Baker, and representatives from Oceania Rugby, Asia Rugby, Rugby Africa, and World Rugby .
14. Charlotte and Mandisa visit ChildFund Rugby partner in South Africa
This year, rugby superstars Charlotte Caslick and Mandisa Williams visited a ChildFund Rugby partner in South Africa. The women rugby icons had a wonderful day of rugby and camaraderie with Coaches and Players in Limpopo. Thank you Charlotte and Mandisa for continuing to inspire women and girls through rugby!
15. Race to Rugby World Cup a success
During the Rugby World Cup 2021, Ron Rutland and Adam Nunn successfully concluded the Race to RWC, biking a total of 209 Days across 11 countries. The duo cycled across the globe to gather support for ChildFund Rugby’s partnerships.
After the fantastic wrap-up of this year’s RWC, the Race to Rugby World Cup adventure continues. Not letting himself (and his bicycle) rest for too long, Ron is already back on the wheels after being assigned to deliver the opening game’s whistle for the Rugby World Cup France 2023 on September 8th 2023.
16. Cambodia Federation of Rugby develops women’s clubs
We congratulate the Cambodia Federation of Rugby for developing their first women’s clubs this year: the Phnom Penh Lotus Women’s Rugby Club and Battambang Rugby Club!
The clubs have a total of 77 players. The Phnom Penh Lotus Women Rugby Club with two teams: under 16 (20 players) and under 20 (18 players), while the Battambang Rugby Club also has two teams: U16 (22 players) and U20 (17 players). Congratulations!
17. Kim Boi and Tan Lac Rugby Associations hit historic milestone
In April, the Kim Boi Rugby Association and the Tan Lac Rugby Association successfully registered with the Government. This marked the first time community rugby associations have been officially established in Vietnam. Aside from continuing to work with ChildFund Rugby to deliver life skills learning through rugby, the two associations aspire to grow rugby across Hoa Binh and beyond and have already started work in new communities. Congratulations!
18. Cambodia Federation of Rugby names Madam Sum Sokha as new president
A few weeks ago, the ChildFund Rugby team got to meet the new Cambodia Federation of Rugby president, Madam Sum Sokha! Madam Sum Sokha is a two-star general and is also a two-time SEA Games medalist who has been involved in sports for the past 40 years. We are looking forward to working with Madam Sum Sokha in the future!
19. PRFU’s Acee San Juan becomes GM
This year, we celebrated Acee San Juan’s promotion to General Manager for Development, Competitions and Training and Education with the Philippine Rugby Football Union! Acee carved out a stellar career in women’s rugby and continues to empower other women and girls in rugby, on and off the pitch. Once again, congratulations Acee!
20. Kenya Rugby Union joins the Grassroots to Global family
This year, we welcomed the Kenya Rugby Union to the Grassroots to Global family!
“Sport encourages participation, bridging national, ethnic, and social divides. When used as a tool for development, it can serve as an impetus for social transformation and change. We are thrilled to become the first African Forum of the G2G series,” said Peris Mukoko, a director on the Kenya Rugby Union Board.
Read more here.
21. World Rugby Awards recognises Charlotte Caslick and Emily Chancellor
Women making an impact through rugby! Congratulations to long-time ChildFund Rugby supporter Charlotte Caslick for being named the World Rugby Women’s Sevens Player of the Year, and to ChildFund Rugby Ambassador Emily Chancellor for being nominated for the International Rugby Players Women’s Try of the Year award in the recent World Rugby Awards held in Monaco!
22. Women make HERstory at the Rugby World Cup 2021
Finally, we look back to the HER-story making Rugby World Cup 2021 Women’s Edition! The RWC Women’s Edition broke records and the sell-out final supercharged the women’s game around the world. Seeing these athletes in action on and off the pitch has inspired women and girls across the world! ChildFund Rugby was proud to be recognised as the Principal Charity! Read more here.