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Cricket of Friday, 14 February 2014

Source: Xinhua News Agency

Ghana kicks start grassroots rugby program

Ghana has begun a grassroots rugby program to develop and whip up interest in the game among children.

TRT helps to improve the lives of children in some of the poorest regions of the world.

It works with orphanages and government schools in some nine countries and regions across the world, using the game of Tag Rugby in its non-contact version as a vehicle for kids and adults.

A team of experienced coaches and technical personnel from the Trust is currently in Ghana to introduce rugby to schoolchildren in eight schools in the capital, Accra, with a full educational syllabus.

"We believe that the future of any sport is starting kids young," Rob Newman, a trustee of the TRT, said here on Wednesday.

"So, if you can start them at the age nine to 12, by the time they get to this old age, they will be playing rugby for several ages. So we believe that this is the game they can take into the schools.

"We know that eventually that will filter through to senior rugby; it is just laying a really solid foundation for the game," he told Xinhua in an interview.

"We do a lot of training so that we make a big impact and that when we leave the country, we have people here that know what they are doing and continue to play the game," he said.

Rugby was first introduced into Ghana when it was still a British colony, with many of the players from the military.

As it is done in many minor African rugby nations, the sport is played in and around the capital.

Despite being formed only in 2005, the Ghana National Rugby Union Team has improved rapidly with a number of competitions under its belts.

The Ghana Rugby Association has endorsed the tag program as a grassroots development tool to be used in Ghana, according to its president, Gifty Elspeth Annan-Myers.

She said the program would help the association allay fears of some parents who were scared of rugby because they thought it was not safe and that their children were going to get hurt.

"We want to demonstrate to them that we have a way of breaking children into rugby where they are playing in a safe environment until they become adults; then they can play it in the contact form," she told Xinhua.

"So, in this form, they are wearing safety belts which are handled by adults and it is pulled. So it is learning how to catch and handle a ball in a safe environment till you are old enough to play contact," said Annan-Myers.

The grassroots rugby program is sponsored by NMS Infrastructure (NMSI), a British company building hospitals in Ghana, as part of its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) to the local communities.

"This program will build the sport in the country. It will grow the sport from the young level up to professional level," said Max Palmer Jeffery, an official of the company.

The team is helping Ghana to put in place the necessary structure that would enable the country to attain full membership of the International Rugby Board (IRB) in the long term and form a formidable national men's and women's teams.

"This is another reason why this charity tag rugby trust has come from England to help us find that structure and produce the structure with all the key members in Ghana," said Jeffery. End

Source: Xinhua News Agency

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