As we approach the women's Rugby World Cup final at Eden Park this Saturday, we take a closer look at ChildFund Rugby, the tournament's principal charity.
ChildFund Rugby is a ChildFund Sport for Development initiative that uses rugby as a tool to teach life-skills to children and youth from vulnerable communities. The programme recognises that sport alone doesn't automatically lead to positive development outcomes and it has been designed to deliver quality sport opportunities with clear and intentional development outcomes through an evidence-based learning model.
Former Black Fern and rugby commentator Honey Hireme-Smiler is a ChildFund Rugby ambassador and travelled to Fiji this year to see the programme in action. She spoke to Newsroom this month about her role with ChildFund Rugby.
“I think about what sport has given me in my life, and it’s taught me so many different things around making responsible decisions. It's such a great catalyst for inspiring positive social change," Honey says.
ChildFund Rugby partners with sports governing bodies to ensure high-quality sport learning and lasting impact; curriculum-based learning model made up of integrated sport and life skills sessions that deliver specific and measured learning outcomes in a safe and fun environment; a focus on peer learning through community-based youth coaches; and purposeful engagement with communities that shows how learning positively impacts children and their communities.
“It looks at their life skills and using rugby, or integrated rugby, to build their confidence and resilience,” Honey says.
“They look at how they can transfer those skills within that sport to life skills as well and ultimately helping them to achieve some of their personal goals - even things like managing emotions and developing positive relationships.”
Key commitments are: Inclusivity where learning environments are accessible to everyone; safeguarding where ChildFund and partners take actions to ensure all young people are safe from harm when involved in activities; gender transformation by understanding and taking steps to change dynamics and structures that reinforce gender injustice; evidence, where decisions are informed by evidence to maximise both sport and social impact.
“It was amazing bringing those communities and those young girls together to form those bonds. That’s what sport offers, those positive relationships,” Hireme-Smiler says.
“Just seeing the girls there and the enjoyment they get, that real sense of joy from throwing a ball around and being able to play, and just that camaraderie they develop within them.”
ChildFund Rugby began in Laos in 2013 and is currently delivered through local partnerships in 10 countries on Africa, Asia and Oceania, with over 50 percent female participation at all levels including players, coaches, officials and staff.
Among the skills participants learn and practice are goal setting, managing emotions, building positive relationships and making responsible decisions. Evidence shows these skills help young people to overcome challenges, and inspire positive change and take leadership roles in their communities.
Funds donated in the lead-up to and during this Rugby World Cup 2021 will be used to support rugby for social impact partnerships across New Zealand and Oceania.
ChildFund Rugby in the media
TV One Seven Sharp 7 November 2022
World Cup fans help vulnerable girls play rugby, Newsroom 1 November 2022
2021 Women's Rugby World Cup an example of how sport can shape great humans, NZ Herald 1 October 2022