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Premiership Rugby are Colombia bound

Gloucester Rugby HITZ manager Helen Chu believes Colombian youngsters have the passion to learn the sport and use it to enrich their lives as she enjoys a week of coaching in the country.

Chu jetted out to South America along with representatives from other Premiership Rugby clubs as part of the Try Rugby Colombia programme.

The scheme was set up to give people in Bogota and its surrounding regions a social and educational impact through playing rugby and Chu brings along a wealth of experience.

Her role at Gloucester involves great interaction with local youngsters, coaching rugby and linking the sport to educational targets – something she can now translate across the Atlantic.

"I think everyone is really excited to have us out here – some of the places have had experience of rugby before and they are just really eager to learn and develop their skills and knowledge base," she said.

"We’re going out to neighbourhoods that aren’t well-off, some of them are quite deprived and using rugby as a tool to help educate them – using the core values we have at Premiership Rugby and at Gloucester.

"It’s about showing them how they can use those core skills to educate their communities as well as taking part in a great sport."

Chu is in Colombia with Premiership Rugby’s Helen Clayton, Craig Foster from Saracens, Liam Cooper from Worcester Warriors and Darren Lamon from Sale Sharks showcasing our community work.

Following on from the award-winning success of Try Rugby Brazil over the last two years, also run in conjunction with the British Council and supported by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, Try Rugby Colombia plans to use sport as a tool to engage children at risk teaching them important skills and competences such as teamwork, leadership and discipline.

The programme will also seek to develop English language and intercultural skills through exchanges with the United Kingdom.

Premiership Rugby has sent Try Rugby coaches to Colombia to increase participation in rugby and to utilise the sport's culture and core values to initiate health, education and social change throughout the country.

Try Rugby Colombia aims to use sport to engage with children at risk promoting healthy habits, education and social improvement, as well as the promotion of the sport at the grassroots, increasing the number of children practicing the sport and improving the quality of the sport across the country.

Helen Clayton, manager of Premiership Rugby’s HITZ programme, said: "The hope is that we can spread the success we’ve had with Try Rugby Brazil by using the model we have there.

"Every country is different of course but we’ve got a model that works and we’ll adapt it and tweak it.

"We don’t need to change it that much because the British Council here are so keen on what we’ve done in Brazil. They really want this project to happen and to make it work."

The programme was instigated after Colombia Minister of Foreign Affairs (MFA), Maria Angela Holguin, created a sports diplomacy programme following Colombia's decision to voluntarily accept the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1612 of 2015 on the prevention of child recruitment by armed groups.

The British Council's heavy involvement comes from their desire to bring about long-term change in Colombia, according to their programmes director, Aida Salamanca.

"The programme is pretty much built on the model that was based in Brazil to help us introduce rugby into the area of social action and social development," she said.

"We wanted to bring in the programme so we could train the kids up and get them interested in the sport so we could continue to develop the sport in the long term."
 

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