HSBC ARFU RUGBY COACHING TOUR EMBRACES COLOMBO
Frank Hadden hopes to have inspired a host of new rugby enthusiasts in Sri Lanka after the former Scotland coach spearheaded a clinic at an SOS Children’s Village outside Colombo on Thursday in the latest leg of the HSBC ARFU (Asian Rugby Football Union) Rugby Coaching Tour.
The coaching clinic in Piliyandala featured 25 boys and six girls from the ages of 11 to 18, who also came from the country’s four other SOS Children’s Villages in Nuwara Eliya, Galle, Anuradhapura and Monaragala. There were also three youngsters from Jaffna, where another SOS community is being built.
“I have been looking forward to this trip ever since I presented the Sri Lankans with their Division I trophy in Singapore last year," said Hadden, who coached Scotland from 2005 to 2009.
“The SOS Children’s Village is an inspiring set-up and it’s amazing what they’re doing for the kids. I know a lot of them are also excited about going to watch Saturday’s game, so let’s hope Sri Lanka can win.”
Many of the youngsters will attend and act as mascots at Sri Lanka’s opening HSBC Asian 5 Nations match against the UAE on Saturday.
The game kicks off at 4.00pm at the Ceylonese Rugby and Football Club (CR&FC), where a large crowd is expected as the rugby-mad country embraces its debut in the Top Five of the continent’s premier 15-a-side national team competition.
Hadden and Japan coach John Kirwan will lead this year’s HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour, with support from the HSBC Penguin International Coaching Academy. Hadden spearheaded last year’s inaugural Coaching Tour through Asia and admitted Sri Lanka was high on his wish list for this year’s schedule.
“Last year, one of the most amazing things was finding rugby thriving in countries you wouldn’t expect and this year I’m really looking forward to going back to some of these places as well as going for the first time to the likes of Sri Lanka,” Hadden said.
“The Sri Lanka team really impressed me last year. They played a very sophisticated brand of rugby and back then I had no idea they had such a long tradition of rugby and the fact they have 100,000 players, which is more than twice as many as there are in Scotland. Perhaps it was no surprise that they played so well last year. I’m confident they’ll do well again this time.”
To follow up on Hadden’s clinic in Piliyandala, HSBC is providing coach education, kit and equipment to the SOS Children’s Village and will do so at every stop on the Coaching Tour to ensure a sustainable legacy in each community.
Nick Nicolaou, CEO of HSBC Sri Lanka and Maldives, said: “HSBC has been a long-term supporter of rugby in Sri Lanka and we’re excited to invest in grassroots development with the SOS Children’s Village and introduce rugby to many youngsters who had not experienced this great game before.
“HSBC is dedicated to creating a rugby legacy in Sri Lanka and across Asia through this Coaching Tour and hopefully we can help inspire the next generation of HSBC Asian 5 Nations players.”
The HSBC ARFU Rugby Coaching Tour continues its activities in Colombo on Friday at the CR&FC where Hadden will lead a coaching clinic for 70 schoolchildren, comprising 10 from each of seven emerging rugby schools – Lumbini Vidyalaya, C.W.W. Kannangara Vidyalaya, Science College, Royal College Panadura, Hindu College, S.D.S. Jayasinghe Vidyalaya and St John's College.
The Coaching Tour’s activities in the capital began on Wednesday, when Hadden helped train local HSBC staff volunteers – including several from the bank’s rugby team – as rugby coaches.
HSBC has a long-standing relationship with the SOS Children’s Villages globally and this year’s Coaching Tour will also visit similar communities in Kazakhstan – one of Sri Lanka’s Top Five competitors – and Korea and Thailand, which will host Divisions I and II respectively.
The Coaching Tour will also visit Hong Kong and UAE among the Top Five nations, although activity in Japan is still to be confirmed after their scheduled home match against Sri Lanka in late May was moved to Colombo in light of the country’s recent tragedies.
Following summer activities in Macau and Hong Kong, from August onwards the Coaching Tour will organise clinics in the four host nations on the new HSBC Asian Sevens Series – China, Malaysia, Thailand and India.
The Coaching Tour launched in March in Hong Kong, where Kirwan and fellow New Zealand legend Jonah Lomu led coaching clinics for youngsters from the Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children (HKSPC) and the Qingdao Sharks Rugby Football Club from China.
HSBC ARFU Coaching Tour 2011
March 23 Hong Kong
April 20-23 Colombo, Sri Lanka
April 28-30 Hong Kong
May 5-7 Bangkok, Thailand
May 11-13 Dubai, UAE
May 12-14 Almaty, Kazakhstan
May 19-21 Hong Kong
May 19-21 Colombo, Sri Lanka
June 2-4 Incheon/Seoul, Korea
June 23-25 Jakarta, Indonesia
Dates to be confirmed:
July Hong Kong
August Shanghai, China
September Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
October Pattaya, Thailand
November Goa, India
November Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
For further details, visit: www.asian5nations.com/HSBC_Coaching