INTERNATIONAL RUGBY COACHING INITIATIVE
International Rugby Coaching Initiative; 4 Gorsto Road; Gwaun Cae Gurwen ; Ammanford; Carms SA18 1UW; Wales, UK
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Once the decision had been made to see what could be done to help youngsters in India, Sri Lanka and China, we set out to learn who were involved already and what they needed. We were soon hearing the name Paul Walsh MBE, a Welshman whom we found out had set up the Jungle Crows Foundation in Kolkata (Calcutta) with the aim of increasing the welbeing of local youngsters through involving them in grass roots rugby and as a means to improve their lives. Thanks to Paul and his dedication, the Foundation has gone from strength to strength. A rugby club, Khelo Rugby, has been formed and many youngsters are playing rugby regularly and in the process are improving their lives.
At the same time something similar is taking place in Goa where a feisty Welsh woman Bee Trotter, who played rugby for Wales' women's team, and her husband Dave, also an ex rugby player, have been working with Anish Quenim, a local guy whose love for the game has encouraged local youngsters to develop an interest in and to play rugby. Here too, rugby, under the auspices of Goa Rugby, and the Crocotryles and Crazy Pirates clubs is increasingly enjoyed by huge numbers of youngsters.
In India, a country where rugby is still very much a minority sport, there are surprising numbers of rugby clubs and, naturally, national teams for 7s and 15s. Women’s teams too are very well supported. The national teams are under the control of Rugby India and their active leader Nasser Hussain. But despite all of this, even within India there are those who do not know that rugby is played there.
The Initiative will also be supporting HEAL, a British charity in India set up in 1992 to provide shelter, support, education and healthcare for underpriviledged children in India. The benefit of sport is recognised among the charity's supporters as an essential part of their work and to this end a wide variety of sports is played at the charity's Paradise Village in Andhra Pradesh in India, which was specially built to provide a home to the youngsters. Rugby is not played there yet but those involved with the charity would welcome anyone who would like to bring their rugby knowledge to the village and introduce the youngsters to the sport. and the undoubted benefits which will accrue to them as a result.
It is not the intention of those behind the Initiative to step on anyone’s toes,
but rather to complement the efforts which are already underway to promote the sport of rugby in India.
In Sri Lanka the shortage of coaches is similar to the situation in India and once the aims of the Initiative were brought to the attention of Asanga Seneviratne, he too expressed great interest and said that he was certain that an increase in coaches spending time with the youngsters would benefit both them and the furtherance of rugby in Sri Lanka.
China is in a similar position to India inasmuch as rugby is a minority sport there but it is anticipated that coaches will be required to encourage youngsters to get involved with rugby and develop a desire to play the game up to senior levels. Discussions are still ongoing about the involvement of China in the Initiative.
Rugby is also a rapidly developing sport in many Asian countries and it is hoped that as the Initiative becomes better known, it’s aims can be put into practice in other countries.
There can be no losers but there are winners,
not least of which is the game of rugby and the cameraderie brought about by being part of a wider Initiative.
In future years this Initiative could well expand to include the many other countries for which rugby is a rapidly developing sport.
Whilst at Durham University, I began playing rugby and following the sport on TV. The values of the game, the way players respect the referees, the way players are involved and their entire discipline on and off the field were things that attracted me to rugby. When I returned to Goa I sorely missed the opportunity to continue playing.
I founded Goa Rugby in 2014 and we now have over 5000 players of all ages, boys, girls and youth in over 100 schools, communities and clubs throughout the State. We have four regional clubs, each coaching and developing the schools in their region. They organise 4 leagues during the year, each ending with a tournament to host the finals. Carnival Rugby in February, Beach Rugby in August, Halloween Rugby in October and Christmas Rugby in December.
Team Goa won the National Gold (Men's) and National Silver (Women's) at the 10th All India Touch 2016 Championships - our first participation and the Highest Honour. It was a really special feeling to be Felicitated by the Honourable Chief Minister of the State, Mr Laxmikant Parsekar, for my Contribution to Sport in Goa.
In 2017 we have added Rugby 7s to our schedule, and are actively introducing Get Into Rugby programmes with Rugby India. The Team Goa Black Claws Seniors and U18 sides have already participated in the All India Nationals, gaining very credible rankings for their first foray into the world of contact rugby.
I am really looking forward to being involved in this great new initiative, knowing that it will make a huge difference by bringing experience and exposure to Rugby in Goa and India.
I’ve been visiting India since 1995 for both business and leisure, finally settling in Goa in 2010. As an ex Welsh Women’s Rugby International player, coach and team manager, I am thrilled to be introducing rugby to young sportswomen in this small state in Western India. We train up local coaches and enable them to spread grassroots rugby to privileged and underprivileged children alike.
We started with Touch rugby in 2014, and progressed rapidly with Goa Women becoming All India State Touch Silver medallists in 2016. In 2017 Goa Rugby joined the World Rugby “Get Into Rugby” programme with Rugby India, and the sport continues to grow and grow.
I have been in touch with NEI UK Ltd for several years, and admire their ideas and initiatives to take local rugby talent abroad to help the sport flourish in rugby developing countries like India. Visiting coaches, players and teams give a huge boost to the children’s enthusiasm and offer them true life role models. I am looking forward to seeing these initiatives change the lives of the children in India, as they will surely be given confidence and opportunities otherwise unavailable to them.
Having done a fair amount of travelling around India over several years, I fell in love with Goa and from 2010 decided to make this my base. Although there is still a huge amount of India to see the ambience of Goa has proved to be something extra special.
As a rugby player of thirty years and an ongoing coach it has been a source of huge satisfaction to me to help bring this game to the young men of Goa. We started Touch in 2014 because that required very little in the way of infrastructure to play. It is no wonder then that I was immensely proud of the Goa Men when they became All India State Champions at their first attempt in 2016. We now hope to carry this forward with equal success as a part of Rugby India.
I have known NEI UK for several years and have always been impressed by their innovative ideas and enthusiasm. The sheer delight that these children show when someone from overseas takes an interest in them is humbling to see. I can only express my best wishes and full support to NEI UK in all they are trying to do.
Paul Walsh - JUNGLE CROWS FOUNDATION
The Jungle Crows is a rugby club based in the Indian city of Calcutta. Founded in 2004 by former British Diplomat Paul Walsh and some rugby mad mates. The club grew quickly, attracting more and more players. Soon the club was getting involved in lots of different parts of the young players lives - helping them find jobs, stay on in education, have a place to sleep safely! From this Khelo Rugby was set up by Afghan/Indian Zaffar Khan which takes rugby into some of the most deprived parts of Calcutta, parts of rural Bengal and the South indian city of Bangalore. Khelo works with more than 1000 children every week, supports more than 50 children's education and trains young people to be leaders of their communities. Eight senior club teams play in Calcutta today, each aiming to lift the Calcutta Cup in August each year - the Jungle Crows are the current holders!
Inthi Marikar, Head of High Performance, Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union
We are very keen to have any Rugby related support, we would be keen to have schools and clubs come and play in Sri Lanka. Also if we could get coaching resource as well.
After this we would be having our 7s season, where we have the local club 7s, super 7s which includes top Rugby 7s players in the world coming and playing for one of the 8 franchise teams along with the locals. Some who have played before Dan Norton, DJ Forbes, Waisake Naholo, Malakai Fekitoa, Pio Tuwai, Osea Kolinisau, Collins Injera, William Ambaka to name a few.
Jem King, Communications Officer for HEAL charity
HEAL (Health and Education for All) has many exciting plans for its upcoming 25th-year anniversary and introducing rugby union to our children through the International Rugby Coaching Initiative is among them.
As a UK-based charity, with branches in the USA, Australia and, of course, India, HEAL devotes itself to helping orphaned, abandoned and destitute children escape the clutches of the Indian 'poverty trap' by providing shelter, healthcare and, above all, an education.
We are run entirely by volunteers and rely on the generosity of our donors, fundraisers and child sponsors to allow us to achieve our aims of lifting thousands of severely disadvantaged children out of poverty.
I am a Welshman who has been involved with HEAL for many years, as a fundraiser, child sponsor and communications officer, and would love nothing more than to introduce rugby to the boys and girls of our flagship school project, HEAL Paradise Village, at Thotapalli, Andhra Pradesh.
I have met and stayed in regular contact with Eric and Peter, from NEI UK Ltd, since first hearing of plans to send coaching volunteers to India and believe this would provide wonderful opportunities for young male and female coaches from Wales to help spread the rugby gospel, while also enjoying the benefits of spending time with our wonderful, enthusiastic children.
I'm grateful to my local club, Penarth RFC, for offering to provide some rugby balls for me to take to India on my next trip and hope to obtain a sponsor for junior kit at some stage.
My hope is that a short visit to our Paradise campus could be combined with an extended stay in the rugby hotspot of Goa, where a couple of young coaches would have a wonderful opportunity to share their love of rugby and broaden their own horizons in a sports-mad country like India.
To discover more about HEAL, please visit our websites at www.healcharity.org and www.healparadise.org