The Final Rugby Tournament

Sarah’s blog 13/10/23

As I type this, Jack Mphande, Malawi Rugby Union’s Rugby Development Officer, is on his way back to Lilongwe which is over 15 hours on a bus. When he arrives home he is straight into finishing an assignment that he put aside whilst he travelled north for the two-week Rugby Festival.

Jack had been making plans for this visit for a while, after the success of his first visit two years ago when he introduced touch rugby to children in the north for the very first time. We were delighted that Jack was keen to visit the far north again to spread the joy of the sport of rugby with his enthusiasm and coaching skills.

Meanwhile, here in Scotland, we had been raising funds to ensure that there was enough money for this rugby festival to run smoothly. We are so grateful to every single supporter who has donated to our fundraiser to make the last two weeks of rugby a huge success. Thank you for your generosity. Thank you also to individuals and clubs and schools who donated sports kit and rugby balls that have been shared with the various schools taking part.

Levison welcomed Jack to stay at The Foundation again for his second visit. Together, they ensured the planned programme went smoothly and Levison liaised with the education and sports officers. Levison also arranged for food, and water to be bought for everyone and arranged lunches, and someone to cook, for the adults and children. They organised which schools would be taking part and which days schools would be visited. Schools were split into two clusters. In order to make this programme sustainable, Jack was able to spend time coaching two teachers from each school as well as some community coaches. He visited each school individually and, at the end of each of the two weeks everyone came together for a tournament.

As yet, there are no big charities feeding children in schools in this area. Most children are living in extreme poverty. It was important to us that all children had a snack and a bottle of water when playing. On tournament days, we ensured there was enough money for everyone to have a proper lunch, snack and bottle of water. Students were given pens and pencils as a gift for taking part. Each school was given sports kit and rugby balls that had been donated by clubs and individuals.

Sustainable development goals were kept in mind when organising this rugby festival; SDG2 – zero hunger, SDG3 – good health & wellbeing, SDG4 – quality education, SDG5 – gender equality, SDG6 – clean water, SDG10 – reduced inequalities, SDG11 – sustainable communities, SDG17 – partnership for the goals.

Each team played two matches and the emphasis was on taking part rather than being too much of a competition. However, the winning boys team was Model Primary School and the winning girls team was Katutula Primary School. Well done everyone!

These children have had an opportunity that they wouldn’t usually have had; someone investing time teaching them new skills, time to play, time to have fun, time to forget about the difficulties in their day to day lives. Time to be part of a team, time to play a new sport, time to feel valued and important, time for self-esteem and confidence to grow. Time for nutritious food and clean water and time for gifts of pens & pencils to help with their education.

Thank you to everyone who has made these two weeks possible. It was a lot of organising, but it was worth it for the enjoyment on the faces of these children. Without the financial donations of our supporters, this rugby festival would have only been a dream. With your help it has been a wonderful experience for so many vulnerable children. Enjoy the photos, Sarah x