With rugby participation booming across Asia, ChildFund has been working with 3 national sports federations and their regional association, Asia Rugby, to ensure that all children playing rugby have access to a safe and enjoyable environment.
From 30-31 March 2018, a Child Safeguarding workshop was held to provide child safeguarding focal points from each of the 3 project target countries, Laos, Vietnam, and the Philippines, with an opportunity to network, share experiences and lessons, and to further develop their child safeguarding practices. Representatives from Asia Rugby and Hong Kong Rugby Union also joined to share their own perspectives and contribute to learning. The workshop also provided an opportunity for ChildFund and partner governing bodies to highlight child safeguarding successes that can be applied to grow the sport safely across the region.
On the first day of the workshop, focal points shared their perspectives on the importance of child safeguarding, some of the challenges they faced and what steps could be taken to tackle these challenges. Ms. Acee San Juan, a child safeguarding focal point for the Philippines Rugby Football Union, expressed that the networking opportunity was useful as most of the challenges in the Philippines are commonly shared across Laos and Vietnam. “It was very helpful because when I shared the challenges we experience, our friends from Laos and Vietnam were able to share solutions for us to apply in the Philippines.”
Ms. Viengsamai Souksavanh, the Lao Rugby Federation’s child safeguarding focal point said: ”Child safeguarding means keeping our players safe both physically and emotionally safe. In Laos, child safeguarding is a new idea, therefore we face many challenges. Nonetheless we continue try our best to provide our Coaches with frequent training and from that they are able to ensure that their players participate in rugby in a fun and safe environment . We are proud to be a leading federation across Asia for our work to safeguard children in sport.”
Mr. Stuart Gunn, Community Inclusive Participation Manager from the Hong Kong Rugby Union, talked about their experiences of how child safeguarding is integrated into their work and how they make sure that content is delivered not only to those involved directly in the sport, but also to the broader community including parents, sponsors, partners, and the public – HKRU is taking a leading role across Hong Kong to highlight the importance of child safeguarding for all sporting codes.
The second day of the workshop saw focal points from the 3 countries discuss and develop action plans for their country programs to continue improving their child safeguarding practices. Ms. Huyen from Vietnam was excited to get started with her team’s action plan implementation. “There were so many interesting ideas to bring back to our team in Vietnam! I can’t wait to see some of them be applied during our upcoming trainings and competitions! Attending the workshop has been a great learning opportunity for me and will be useful for Coaches back at home!”
The workshop was also acknowledged by Asia Rugby’s General Manager, Ross Mitchell: “It’s been great to join the workshop. Laos and Vietnam – these are not big names on the rugby field but guess what, they are leading the way in child safeguarding! I’m sure that this workshop will be an important stepping stone on the safeguarding journey for all our members and Asia Rugby is firmly committed to ensuring that rugby remains a safe sport for all.”
Chris Mastaglio. the ChildFund Pass It Back Director commented that “It has been so positive to see national and regional rugby federations commit to, and evidence, the improvement of their child safeguarding practices. Although there is much work remaining, Asia Rugby and our 3 partners, along with the Hong Kong Rugby Union, are laying a strong foundation to be safeguarding children in sport leaders. From ChildFund’s side, we would also like to acknowledge the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade of the Australian Government – their support has been invaluable in not only bringing everyone together, but also to ensure that child safeguarding actions get to where they need to be – around children in the communities in which we all work.”