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Home > News > Excitement at Caldy RFC as Touraid looms
Your News Excitement at Caldy RFC as Touraid looms

EXCITEMENT is mounting as Caldy Rugby Club on the Wirral prepares to reach out to some of the worlds 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 Touraids 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 charitys 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.

The extensive media coverage and a 20,000 crowd that followed the Crows return as champions of the touraid U14 Cup highlighted the efforts and dedication these tribal children put into their newly-adopted game, with the school receiving congratulations from the Prime Minister and President of India. As a result of the tour the school now has a rugby academy and has attracted a major sponsor to support its work with the poorest of India's communities.

Sierra Leone is still ranked third to bottom in the UNs Human Development Index, with high unemployment and an education system that leaves a lot to be desired, but the Sierra Leone boys who will be coming from St Francis School in Makene already have strong links with St Anselms College.

St Anselms teacher Louise Baines, recently returned from a visit to Makene, says: We have always had a strong association with St Francis School through the work of the Catholic Bretheren and have supported them in all sorts of ways over the years. Our own students and staff have travelled to Sierra Leone, but to be able to bring the children over here as part of the Touraid initiative from Caldy Rugby Club is really very special.

The initiative, led by Festival Chairman Jane Corlett, is part of the wider remit of the charity Touraid, whose aim is to create long-term economic and social benefits for children from disadvantaged communities throughout the world by creating sustainable links between these communities and clubs and schools in the UK.

The boys will be hosted by Pensby Sports College, Kingsmead School, St. Anselms College, Birkenhead School and West Kirby Residential School, all of whom have been working hard to raise funds to finance the boys trip.

The focal point of the trip will be the Caldy International U13 Touraid Festival which will take place at Caldy Rugby Club on Sunday, September 26.

Says Chairman Corlett: The Festival will be a fantastic celebration of so many countries coming together under the banner of sport and unity and we hope that Wirral people will join us in supporting these youngsters whose lives have been blighted by so much deprivation and hardship.

Apart from some very entertaining rugby there will be great food, music and entertainment, stalls and fun for all the family. And free admission!

Over 30 tours have been arranged by Touraid over the last four years, but this is the first in the North of England. While rugby is the catalyst for the project, the real aim is to give these children the chance to improve their lives through the bonds they develop with the schools and clubs who will support them in the coming years through friendship and funding. Many of the boys are orphans whose team very often becomes their family through which they learn to strive to improve their lives and that of their contemporaries back in their homelands.

It is a great example of how sport, by breaking down economic, language and social barriers, can make a real difference to the lives of these children.

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