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ChildFund Australia uses rugby to promote healthy living to girls in Laos


ChildFund Australia uses rugby to promote healthy living to girls in Laos

sportanddev welcomes ChildFund Australia to the Platform. Team Player and country director of ChildFund Laos, Chris Mastaglio, shares how they are using sport for development in Laos.


sportanddev: How long has ChildFund Australia been using sport in its development programmes?


ChildFund Australia has been working in Laos for close to 4 years and made a decision to start using sport in our work 2 years ago. Sport is seen as a key component as we work with community partners to increase access to human, capital, social and natural assets and also to provide a platform for community voices to increase their ability to affect decisions important to them. This ensures that they can affect community-driven change and to sustainably address poverty.

sportanddev: Why has ChildFund Australia elected to include sport as part of its programmes in Laos?
ChildFund Laos currently has 3 programmes one of which focuses on promoting child protection, rights and participation. Sport provides tools to do that in a fun way for children, whilst also providing educational and health benefits. The role of sport is often overlooked in development, but we see it as a high quality, low cost tool that can be used to ensure children are protected, healthy and participating in the decisions that affect them in their communities.

sportanddev: What are some of the successes and challenges of using sport in development?

The rural setting of many of our partner communities and the lack of sport facilities, exacerbated by the prevalence of unexploded ordnance left over from the Vietnam war, are key barriers for participation in organised team sport. Adapting sports however, can limit the impact of these challenges. In addition, heavy family responsibilities for children often limit the time they have available to play sports; this is particularly an issue for girls.

One of the major successes of our work has been getting girls to play organised sport, often for the first time in their lives. ChildFund partners with the Lao Rugby Federation and as a new sport to our partner communities, it has been taken up with much enthusiasm by girls. Soccer and volleyball are seen as sports for boys, but with rugby being new and having no preconceptions around gender affiliation, it is seen as a sport for girls in our partner communities!

sportanddev: As 7 April marks World Health Day, how is ChildFund Australia using sport to promote health?
The links between sport and health are clear. In Laos, there is a growing risk of drug use for young people and sport is an excellent tool to ensure that children stay away from the lures of drugs. In addition, widespread alcohol and tobacco use also poses a significant risk to the next generation. Providing opportunities for children to build a love for sport can be a key factor in reducing the negative impacts of tobacco and alcohol.

Finally, in a country with very limited health services, sport provides a means for people to keep healthy in their daily lives and can reduce the burden on the health system as it develops. ChildFund believes that sport has a significant role to play in development and hopes to continue our journey of using sport to improve the lives of children and their communities in Laos.

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]


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Chris Mastaglio


Monday, April 8, 2013 - 23:00