EXCITEMENT is mounting as Caldy Rugby Club on the Wirral prepares to reach out to some of the world’s underprivileged youngsters via an international youth rugby festival.
Fifty youngsters from some of the most deprived areas of Swaziland, Botswana, Sierra Leone, Thailand and India have been given the chance of a lifetime to travel to the Wirral for a week of friendship, rugby and a host of cultural and sporting experiences.
Each of the visiting teams has a story to tell. The Swaziland boys, many of whom are orphans, have been using rugby as a tool for AIDS education via the good work of Michael Collinson, President of the Swaziland Rugby Union and founder of SKRUM (Swaziland Kids Rugby Union Mission), whose has introduced 22,000 children to the programme.
Tlamelo Vultures from Botswana are a young developing rugby team set up by a project which cares and provides for orphans and vulnerable children. David Gilbert, the ex president of the Botswana RU, brought rugby into an area of Botswana to combine his passion for rugby with his compassion for the Tlamelo children recently Harlequin player Seb Stegman flew out to offer the youngsters some extra coaching in advance of their trip to Caldy.
Bangkok in Thailand has struggled to contain a volatile political situation in recent months, but a group of children from the Mahamek Boys Home have had something more positive to focus on – the trip to Wirral.
They have not played rugby for a couple of years as a result of both a shortage of funding and personnel to coach them, but Touraid’s man in Bangkok, Adam Woolliscroft, has grasped the project with both hands and is working hard to prepare the boys for the trip.
Says Woolliscroft: “The boys and staff have been fantastic, getting to grips with the rugby training and also getting to grips with improving their English. The benefits already have been tremendous with a new team spirit and, not to put too fine a point on it, new hope.”
The boys from Kolkata in India are no strangers to Touraid, the Jungle Crows team having travelled half-way round the world to the south of England take part in the charity’s Tullow Oil Festival two years ago. Caldy Rugby Club are now welcoming to the Wirral a new Indian team the Ashalayam Pirate Ants, successors to the Crows.