Although 2021 was yet another tough year for a lot of sport communities across the globe, it has also been a year when we witnessed ordinary women and men doing extraordinary things, facing the challenges of the pandemic head on so that sport can continue to have a positive impact on the lives of children and young people.
In 2021, we also saw how Sport for Development plays a crucial role in rebuilding strong communities: reconnecting people; building knowledge, skills, and tools to stay healthy; and of course, getting children moving again, with all of the benefits that has on physical and mental well-being.
As we look forward to the coming New Year, we look back at what has made 2021 an awesome year for us, for partners, and for the children and young people who — through the work of partners and the support of donors — continue to have access to safe life skills learning through sports!
1. A global partnership to boost women and girls in rugby
On 26 May 2021, ChildFund and World Rugby launched a transformative global partnership to support a new generation of unstoppable girls and women in rugby as part of Rugby World Cup 2021, playing in 2022, in New Zealand.
We look forward to working with the global rugby family to ensure more children and young people, particularly girls and women, have opportunities to play, learn, and grow through rugby!
2. Sports heroes and heroines taking on the challenges of the pandemic
The resilience of partners amidst these difficulties has been inspiring. They have been responding to rapidly changing situations around lockdowns, ensuring players and Coaches have access to the latest health and vaccine information, and keeping players and Coaches engaged. They have also worked to test and support online engagement to keep children connected and understanding that not everyone has access to the internet, have been working closely with authorities to deliver adapted face to face activities that meet health requirements as soon as it has been possible.
3. Strengthened partnerships
In Fiji and Samoa, ChildFund is partnering with Oceania Rugby, UN Women, Fiji Rugby Union and Samoa Rugby Union to create positive social impact through Get into Rugby PLUS. Get into Rugby PLUS is jointly developed and implemented by Oceania Rugby, UN Women, Fiji Rugby Union, Samoa Rugby Union, and ChildFund Rugby. The program is supported by the Australian Government’s Team Up Programme, Rugby Australia, the European Union, and the New Zealand Government.
The year 2021 was also about going above and beyond what is expected to make sure that children and young people have access to life skills learning through sport, especially during uncertain times. Hardworking rugby partners made things possible, partners including the Tan Lac Rugby Network and Kim Boi Rugby Association (and their 7 clubs) in Vietnam, the Lao Federation, the Fiji Rugby Union and Lakapi Samoa in Samoa. We’d also like to acknowledge the work of the more than 20 Unions and Regional Associations that have been working to improve their safeguarding practice in 2021!
4. Cricket for Good-Fiji in full swing!
After holding Coach recruitments for Cricket for Good – Fiji last October, Cricket Fiji successfully hosted a one-week training of Coaches! Tom Moreton – the Second Secretary Political, Australian High Commission Fiji, Rovereto Nayacalevu – the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Youth and Sports, together with Mosese Yavalanavanua – Chairman of Cricket Fiji Board and Cama Raimuria – Board Director Finance of Cricket Fiji attended the trainings where they personally met the Coaches who will carry the project forward. After 10 days, 20 Coaches (13 of them female!) were successfully trained!
Cricket for Good – Fiji is being implemented in Suva, in partnership with Cricket Fiji, funded by Team Up, the Australian Government’s sport for development program.
5. Reconnect Online
To make sure that children and young people can still access safe learning, even amidst COVID-19 restrictions, ChildFund Rugby and partners are working together to deliver Reconnect Online, alongside with the existing Reconnect curriculum where it is safe to do so. Reconnect Online includes seven online sessions and has been built in response to challenges brought about by the pandemic where face-to-face delivery is not allowed, providing a safe space for players and Coaches to maintain their connections. Players take part in a number of fun physical activities guided by their Coaches, followed by discussion activities focusing on how rugby’s values can be used online and offline in daily life.
6. Grassroots women ready to take on the world
Led by implementing partners in Laos, Vietnam, Philippines, and Cambodia, a series of Women Leadership Forums have been taking place over the past few months. As the series progresses, female community rugby leaders in each country will come together both online and face to face to discuss how to make their rugby community a more inclusive environment for women and girls across the globe.
We can’t wait to share with everyone the achievements of these amazing community leaders and we look forward to the participation of many other rugby partners!
7. Women of the future
In 2021, we were all thrilled when the amazing Bui Thanh Huyen from the Hoa Binh Rugby Network was named as one of the winners of the Women of the Future Awards Southeast Asia under the sport category last October! Over the last six years, Huyen has challenged negative gender norms and stepped up to become a leader in her community – inspiring and supporting girls and young women to have opportunities to play, learn, and grow through rugby!
We’d also like to congratulate all the nominees, including Lao Khang from the Lao Rugby Federation, for inspiring women and girls across the region!
8. Strengthening safeguarding in sport
Launched in 2020, the Safeguarding in Sport: Online Learning Pilot Project aims to support sports organisations worldwide to improve their safeguarding practices through a series of webinars and tailored online support. The project wrapped up in early 2021 with more than 20 organisations completing the full course. An external, independent evaluation took place to assess how effective learning was for improving organisational safeguarding practice. Check out the findings here!
9. Rugby players rowing across the Atlantic for a good cause
The idea seemed outlandish at first: three rugby players who started out with little to no background in sailing, will row for 5,000 kilometres across continents for more than a month, defy waves of up to 20 feet high, and possibly even face extreme weather conditions. But for Robert Lennox, Matt Bell, and Martin Muller of Hong Kong’s Valley Rugby Football Club, no idea is too wild if you’re determined and if you worked hard for it.
Known as the East Rows West team, Rob, Matt, and Martin are currently competing for the epic Atlantic Challenge and they are dedicating this amazing feat to ChildFund Rugby as their chosen charity. Read more about them here!
10. The continued support of our donors
We wouldn’t be able to list 10 awesome things in 2021, a year that remains challenging, without the generous support from our donors and supporters. Big thanks to the Australian Government Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Team Up Program, DHL, the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Laureus, and East Rows West!
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