India-Sri Lanka Youth Rugby Friendship Match in Odisha between JICA Volunteer led Teams

Bhubaneswar:India Rugby-Football Union (IRFU) organized jointly with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), Kalinga Institute of Social Sciences (KISS) and The Kids Sports Exchange (TKSE), supported by Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) and Sri Lanka Rugby Football Union (SLRFU), atwo-day Youth Rugby Friendship Match from June 16-17, at the cricket stadium of Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KIIT), in Bhubaneswar, Odisha.The match was held among the teams coached by the JICA Volunteers, widely known as Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV) in India and Sri Lanka.
The objective of the friendly matchwas, especially at this time when Rugby World Cup is to be held in Japan next year, topromote rugby and youth development in India and Sri Lanka where JOCV are currently being dispatched as rugby coach (one in India and two in Sri Lanka).JICA has been actively dispatching JOCV as rugby coach since Japan Rugby Football Union (JRFU) and JICA started ‘JICA-JRFU Scrum Project’ in July 2013, under which JICA and JRFU work together to accelerate the dispatch of JOCV rugby coach with a special focus on the Asian countries.Simultaneously, as a member of a Japanese-Government initiative, ‘Sport for Tomorrow’ (SFT), JICA aims at promotion of sports for peace and development as well as for people-to-people exchange in the world, utilizing the power of sports.
The two-day event included Rugby Clinic by the delegates from Japan; Mr. Makoto Nishiki (Executive Committee Member, Asia Rugby / Deputy Chairman of Rugby Development Committee, JRFU); Mr. Masatoshi Mukoyama (Representative Director, TKSE / Head of International Cooperation Section, JRFU) and Mr. Koji Yoshida (General Manager of Rugby Team, Yamanashi Gakuin University).Dr. AchyutaSamanta, KIIT & KISS Founder and Mr. Priyadarshi Mishra, Member of Legislative Assembly(MLA) of Odisha and President of Odisha Rugby Football Association also graced the event. There was a presentation session by JOCV on their activities, together witha workshop by the representatives of Rugby Football Unions of India, Sri Lanka and Japan, and JICAon how to enhance and promoterugbyfor the sound development of youth using its power. The event was made possible thanks to the hundreds of contributors who joined this initiative through crowd funding in April-May 2018.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Katsuo Matsumoto, Chief Representative, JICA India said, “First of all, JICA would like to join the note of thanks to all who supported this event through crowd funding bringing an excellent opportunity for Indian and of Sri Lankan youths as well as the volunteers dispatched to both countries.
JICA values the importance of international cooperation in the sports, which is effective in sound physical and mental development of youth as well as in social inclusion and solidarity. When it comes to rugby, now is the best time ever to promote, considering the growing passion for rugby in India and Sri Lanka and also the timing when Rugby World Cup will take place in Asia, Japan, for the first time in its history in 2019.Thismatch is an excellent opportunity to show the effectiveness of expanding rugby in both countries.In India, in addition to the one rugby coach dispatched to KISS, we are currently in the process of dispatching 2 more rugby coaches, one to Rajasthan and the other to Gujarat. JICA aims at contributing towards improvement of education and expansion of people-to-people exchange between Japan and India through rugby, in close collaboration with Rugby Football Unions. JICA’s commitment will continue even after 2019 Rugby World Cup and 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.”
The girls and boys teamsconsisting of players aging from 17-18 years, playedseven-a-side games in the afternoon of Sunday, 17June. Before the game,a commemorative opening ceremony was held.
Commenting on the ceremony Mr. Nasser Hussain, General Manager, Rugby India said, “It’s our privilege to host the Youth Rugby Friendship Match between India and Sri Lanka Teams led by JICA Volunteers. It’s a unique concept, in line with our aim which focuses on age-grade players, both girls &boys, and to provide a competitively friendly but safe playing environment for all participants. This initiative will not only be a celebration of the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan but will also showcase the rugby development work being carried out by the Japanese volunteers in both countries.”
The event wasfollowed by “After-Match Function,”a tradition in the world of rugby, where the players from two countries, regardless of friend or foe, cultivated friendship with one another. The introduction of 2019 Rugby World Cup was also made by the delegates from Japan during the function.