Rugby Tournament (part 1)

Sarah’s blog 7/10/23

Yesterday was an amazing day for the rural cluster of schools who have been learning to play touch rugby. All the schools came together for a tournament. These vulnerable children and young people will remember this experience for a very long time as they don’t get opportunities like yesterday.

On Monday, Jack Mphande Malawi Rugby Union’s Rugby Development Officer, worked with two teachers from each school to train them up to be able to continue teaching and coaching touch rugby within their own schools and to more students. This is in line with some of the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals; #SDG3 Good Health and Wellbeing, #SDG4 Quality Education, #SDG5 Gender Equality and SDG11 Sustainable Communities.

We too are working towards some of these goals in all of the projects we are helping to support, keeping these in mind as we try to ensure that children have more to eat, have clean drinking water, quality education as the community works towards self-sufficiency. #SDG1 no poverty, #SDG2 zero hunger, #SDG3 good health and well-being , #SDG4 quality education, #SDG5 gender equality, #SDG6 clean water and sanitation, #SDG8 decent work & economic growth, #SDG10 reduced inequalities, #SDG11 sustainable communities, #SDG13 climate action, #SDG15 life on land are the ones we are concentrating on but all of them are relevant and important.

During the week, Jack visited each of the schools to work with the teachers and students and yesterday was tournament day! Each school taking part was given a new (to them) sports kit that we had sent via Bananabox Trust who organise the container. We have had several individuals and clubs who have generously donated sports kit to us to share where it is most needed. This is extending the life of the sports kit and keeping it from landfill. Also, it is making the recipients extremely happy. Some people to thank for the kit I can see in these photos (and please do let me know if I have forgotten anyone); Merchiston Castle School, Bromley & Beckenham Hockey Club (via Wear a Sports Shirt Day), Fakenham Town FC (via Wear a Sports Shirt Day) Seafar Villa Cumbernauld (via Paul Goodwin). Many thanks for these donations. As you can see your generosity is making a big difference to these young people.

It was important to us that all children taking part in the rugby development had something to eat and drink. There are no organisations feeding children in primary schools in this area in the north. All of these children are hungry. Many are suffering from malnutrition. Thanks to the generosity of individuals who have supported this initiative to introduce rugby in the far north of Malawi, we were able to send money for the children to have snacks and water each day they were playing at their schools. Yesterday, at the tournament, all children and young people had a nutritious, cooked lunch, a snack and bottled water. They were also given some pens and pencils as a gift to take back with them.

All of these things, we take for granted; easy access to sport, new clothes, food and clean water, school supplies and organised events. For these children, none of this is taken for granted. None of these things are ‘normal’. So yesterday would have meant the world to them. So we thank you all very much for enabling yesterday to happen. All children and young people should be able to learn new skills and take part in sports and we are very glad that Jack Mphande was able to visit and give these vulnerable children new opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have had.

So, this is far more than just a few games of rugby. It is someone spending time with these children who (until recently) were largely ignored. It’s making them feel special. It’s helping their self-confidence and self-esteem. It’s about teaching them new skills and discipline and teamwork. It’s about having fun with their friends. It’s allowing them time to be children and forget about the trauma they have experienced with family members passing away and the extreme poverty they are living in. And the fact that they have had a good lunch and pens and pencils to take home…. we cannot possibly know or understand how much yesterday meant to these children and young people.

Jack, thank you for your hard work and enthusiasm. We look forward to your photos from next week when you repeat this week with different schools. And, on your next visit, it will be interesting to see how rugby is developing and how many young people are enjoying playing rugby regularly in school and also as a pass time with their friends. Thank you so much, Jack, for investing time in the children and young people we help to support.

By the end, everyone was tired but happy. There was no transport to get everyone to the tournament so all had to walk there and back as well as playing which is another reason we wanted to ensure they were well fed. Also, I just wanted to remind people that although these are primary schools, some of the young people are teenagers desperate for an education. They have missed lots of school to work for a pittance to buy food. The older they are, the poorer their family.

Enjoy the photos and videos and thank you again everyone who supports us to support these vulnerable children and young people, Sarah x

The tournament winners – Malawa Primary
Chambo Primary
Chisenga Primary
Kayilizi Primary School
Kalanga Primary School

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