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Rugby as a tool for development


Rugby as a tool for development

Kampuchea Balopp reflects on its experiences in Cambodia, explaining why rugby is a good choice of sport for promoting development, education and social inclusion.

Kampuchea Balopp is a French registered NGO working in Cambodia which uses rugby as a tool for development, education and social inclusion, running programmes for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Providing opportunities for sport and exercise
Kampuchea Balopp makes rugby accessible to more than 600 boys and girls in Cambodia. Kampuchea Balopp (which means "Cambodia Rugby") now works with more than a dozen local and international NGOs. On a weekly basis a team of four locally trained and mentored Cambodian coaches and rugby educators, employed full-time by Kampuchea Balopp, run sessions with different groups of children supported by our NGO partners.

Most of the children participating in the activities of Kampuchea Balopp are from disadvantaged backgrounds and do not have the opportunity to have access to regular sport and organised exercise. We work with a wide age group of boys and girls including children who have mental and hearing disabilities.

Kampuchea Balopp has regular ‘Grassroots Rugby Days’ which involve the participation of most of the partner organisations. The children are mixed together and the days represent key moments to allow children to develop their ability to integrate socially through various group exercises and develop mutual respect for gender equality. This breaks down barriers and widens their knowledge about who else is learning rugby and enables them to make friends and have a fun day out!

Teamwork, respect, confidence and tolerance
Cambodians are quite an open minded people and there is currently rapid development in terms of cultural and traditional transformation. Many of the young girls we train are quite fearless in the physical side of the game and enjoy being on a level playing field to the boys. Early in 2014, Kampuchea Balopp held the first Cambodian women’s rugby training camp in the coastal town of Kep. When the young women were playing rugby on the beach, Cambodian onlookers who had never seen the sport were not concerned that women were playing but interested in the oval ball and the game itself regardless of gender. We have seen little prejudice towards females playing rugby and believe there are numerous benefits for everyone involved.

Rugby fosters the idea that without playing together, without teamwork and team spirit, you can not go forward. Boys and girls train together side-by-side and rugby is a great sport to allow a child to gain confidence. Because it is a contact sport, rugby allows children to overcome their fears and push their limits. Socio-educational values associated with rugby include teamwork and respect, confidence, and tolerance; the children will develop strong skills and values which can benefit them throughout their lives.


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Steve Noble


Tuesday, July 1, 2014 - 23:00