Dublin, June 11th, 2019
ChildFund’s sport-for-development initiative ‘Pass it Back’, is about utilising the power and universality of sport to break down social barriers and connect people, wherever they might be. ChildFund is World Rugby’s principal charity partner for Rugby World cup 2019. We are immensely proud to partner with World Rugby and Asia Rugby to support children. With the help of the rugby family, more than 20,000 children from deprived communities in Asia will be given the opportunity to learn life-long skills, and pass’them back to their communities.
Asia is home to 60% of the worlds youth, yet so many children there lack the opportunities, knowledge and skills they need to break the cycle of poverty. The ChildFund Pass it Back programme helps young people from poor communities in Asia to learn essential life skills, and also assists children living in disaster affected communities in Japan.
Sport is such a positive and life affirming activity. It has many social and physical benefits at all ages but is especially important in assisting the development of younger children. There are few parents who don’t understand the many benefits for children that come from taking part in team sports. Physical coordination is one of them. Improved health, Better communication, social skills, discipline and respect for others – these are just some of the advantages that accrue for kids all while they are having fun and exercising. For those taking part in a sport for development program like ChildFund Pass It Back, which uses sport as a tool to provide important learning opportunities, the benefits go even further.
In Laos, The Philippines, Timor-Lest and Vietnam, young players are also gaining life-long skills in areas such planning for the future, gender equality and conflict resolution. Sport also plays a vital role in developing a child’s coordination –their ability to control the movements of their body. Gross motor skills help children to catch or kick a ball, run without tripping over, and to jump and land on their feet. As a result, children are less likely to get injured when taking part in physical activities.
According to research from the University of Leeds, young children with better eye-to-hand co-ordination are more likely to achieve higher scores for reading, writing and math. Not every child needs to be able to bend it like Beckham or slam like Serena, but a good level of physical coordination can be extremely beneficial. So, how does a game like rugby build coordination skills for children?
Balance: An experienced rugby player has trained their body to shift their momentum from one point to another without ever losing balance. The evasive moves are a key part of any rugby game. Even the youngest children, after learning to catch and pass, will immediately begin practicing ways to evade defenders. These moves require excellent balance, which is essential if children are to achieve control and coordination over their body movements. Over time, as children continue to practice and develop these moves, and defend elusive attacking players, their balance will improve dramatically.
Hand-eye coordination: Whether you are throwing the ball in the backyard or playing in a World Cup Final, hand-eye coordination is an extremely important part of rugby. One of the first skills a rugby player learns is the ability to catch a ball and accurately pass it to their intended destination.If you have ever attended an under-six rugby game (or tried playing catch with a toddler), you will know that children are not born with this ability. Over time, children will go from barely bobbling a lobbed ball to confidently catching anything that is thrown (or kicked) at them. The fun, and constant, act of passing the ball will also help children improve their depth perception and their ability to accurately hit targets that are a long distance away.
Spatial awareness: Most children develop some special awareness early in life – it stops them from knocking into furniture as they learn to walk – but playing a sport like rugby will help them fine tune this ability, which can increase their dexterity and balance. The first time you gently lob a ball to your child they will throw their hands up ready to catch the ball, with no idea how far away the ball is and when it will arrive in their hands. After a playing rugby for a short time, and catching and passing the ball with their friends, this skill will develop, and is essential to improving overall coordination. Eventually, your child be able to spot an object that is coming towards them, whether it’s a ball or an opposition player, immediately identify the distance that separates them and act accordingly.
To learn more about ChildFund’s pass it back programme and the positive impact it is having on young peoples lives, including the fight for gender equality, visit: https://www.childfundpassitback.org/