The following article about the Lao U17 girls rugby 7s team has been kindly submitted by Lao RF ,
Laos’ U17 Women’s National Team will play in their first ever international competition at the 2017 Asia Rugby U17 7s.
The Youth Olympic Games Qualifier in Dubai marks a milestone in the development of rugby in Laos; in 2012, the Lao Rugby Federation (LRF) began piloting the ChildFund Pass It Back powered by Get Into Rugby curriculum in 12 villages in northern Laos. Since then, the sport has spread like wildfire with more than 3,000 young players registered across eight districts of Laos.
Every member of the DAC Lao U17s Women’s National Team was introduced to rugby through the LRF’s Champa Ban Youth Rugby programme that uses the ChildFund Pass It Back rugby and life skills curriculum. Due to the success in Laos, Pass It Back spread to Vietnam and the Philippines and is a key component of Asia Rugby’s Asia 1 Million initiative and of the Rugby World Cup 2019 Impact BEYOND programme.
In Laos, ChildFund Pass It Back has seen many successes in developing talented young tag rugby players as well as healthy community leaders, especially among girls and young women. In fact, the LRF holds the highest rate of female participation of any rugby union in the world – 56% of all players and coaches are female. As a result, there is plenty of excitement around the upcoming competition that sees many current and former ChildFund Pass It Back coaches and players serving as role models in their community and representing their country on the international stage.
Several players participated on the 2017 Southeast Asian Games squad, traveling to Kuala Lumpur in August; however, for most of the team, this will be their first time participating in a major international competition.
The competition also marks a milestone in the LRF’s coaching development as Ms. Viengsamai Souksavanh, former captain of the DAC Lao Women’s National Team and the first female Lao international coach leads the U17s team. Viengsamai is joined on the coaching staff by Vannaxay Somsuthi who also received his first international coaching appointment following the Hong Kong Rugby Football Union-LRF partnership seeing ongoing elite coach development for LRF staff and top coaches.
The team has overcome significant hurdles to reach this point. The roster is split between the Lao capital of Vientiane and rural Xieng Khouang Province; as a result, the team has been training in two groups, with the Vientiane-based coaches travelling to Xieng Khouang to ensure both groups continued to develop. Selection matches at the recent, Mekong Cup and the Surin Super Rugby 10s in Thailand gave the squad more opportunities to develop leading up to their international debut.
Viengsamai commented, “As youth rugby continues to grow in Laos and especially as we expand the ChildFund Pass It Back powered by Get Into Rugby curriculum, the next step is developing youth players to be competitive on the international stage. The 2017 Asia Rugby U17 7s should prove to be an incredible learning and development experience for these girls and we hope to see them take their skills and learning back to their home communities and continue to grow the game even after the competition in Dubai.”
The DAC U17 Women’s National Team will play their first match of the 2017 Asia Rugby U17 7s against India on Wednesday, 29 November.
Lao Rugby would like to thank Pass It Back partners, ChildFund Australia, Women Win, Asia Rugby and World Rugby for their work developing youth rugby in Laos. Lao Rugby would also like to thank Platinum Sponsor DAC for supporting the DAC U17 Lao Women’s National Team at their first international competition as well as for their ongoing support for the LRF’s elite programme.
Photo Credit: Anoulek Douangdala, Lao Rugby Federation
Category: #WomensRugby #GirlsInRugby
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