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Pass it Back Cup: Belfast
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Aug 22, 2017
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Girls from ChildFund Pass It Back joined with members of Peace Players Northern Ireland and local girls, for a memorable day of rugby, fun and cultural exchange at Belfast Harlequin’s RFC

Girls from ChildFund Pass it Back present Belfast Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister with a jersey and card, accompanied by ChildFund Ireland CEO Michael Kiely.  Photo credit: Brian Mac Neill 

Belfast, August 21st 2017: Brian Mac Neill

On the eve of the first semi-final of the Women’s Rugby World Cup 2017, Asian girls from the ChildFund Pass it Back programme took part in games of tag rugby with local girls, and members of Peace Players Northern Ireland. The matches represented just one element in a day of  sport, laughter and learning designed to bring communities from different parts of the world together, and to demonstrate why sport is such a powerful, universal tool for breaking down barriers.

The ChildFund Pass it Back girls travelled all the way from Laos, Vietnam and the Philippines to take part in the event, organised as part of of festivities around the Women’s Rugby World Cup, and to support World Rugby’s legacy programme, ‘IMPACT Beyond 2017’.  The event was attended by Ian Mcilrath (Vice President), and Michael Cunningham representing the IRFU.  ChildFund Pass It Back is supported by world Rugby, Asia Rugby and Women win.   The Irish government supported the event in Belfast as a demonstration of its commitment to international development work, and indeed the work of Irish Aid which supports many global development initiatives right across the planet, including  programmes run by ChildFund Ireland in Ethiopia, Mozambique and Uganda.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast Nuala McAllister was on hand to lend her support for the event, giving graciously of her time to talk to girls from the programme and hear just what their visit to Belfast means to them.  For all of the girls, it was their first ever time on an airplane, much less in another land far from home!

ChildFund Ireland CEO Michael Kiely poses with players from the ChildFund Pass It Back Cup. Photo Credit: Brian Mac Neill

After demonstrating their rugby skills in a series of tag-matches with local girls, we broke for lunch.  Afterwards the girls began the second phase of the day, and for local girls participating this meant exposure to the integrated life-skills component of Pass It Back which uses rugby exercises to explore emotions and thoughts, exploring issues of power and agency such as bullying.  The sessions encourage participants to reflect on their real life experiences, and underscores the value of team work and being assertive in combating these issues.   Later, in sessions off the pitch, the girls engaged in conversations to exchange knowledge and share experiences acquired from their own lives, within their respective communities.  The innovative life-skills curriculum of PIB was developed by ChildFund Australia, utilising the considerable expertise of Women Win https://womenwin.org/

Travelling players from CPIB dance and sing with local participants at Belfast Harlequin’s RFC:           Photo Credit: Brian Mac Neill

The sheer energy and enthusiasm from all the participants on the day was clear to see.   As an exercise in bringing communities together to learn about each others live’s through shared experiences, and understanding the importance of unity in combating exclusion and disadvantage, it made a powerful case for the universality of sports, and indeed why sport-for-development initiatives are such good vehicles for breaking down social barriers.

ChildFund Ireland

About ChildFund Pass It Back:  

ChildFund Pass it back is a sport for development initiative that has been ruining in disadvantaged rural communities in Asia for five years.  The programme introduces rugby to these communities, often for the first time. It encourages children to uptake the sport and to see the value of the game, as not just a fun, healthy, collegiate activity but also as a vehicle to develop important life skills that can assist the in their pathway to adulthood.   One of the main goals of the programme is to encourage children to learn about leadership and to be assertive in their own communities as active role models for other children.  This is of particular importance to girls and young women in the developing world, often marginalised, discriminated against, or victims of gender based violence and abuse.   The programme represents a positive, life-arming vehicle for promoting children and respect for the rights of children in the community, while encouraging a passion for the great game of rugby. 

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