Team Tomatoes: Playing rugby and learning essential life skills

Kim Chi is a young girl from northern Vietnam. She plays for a team called Tomatoes, and rugby is her chosen sport.

But joining team Tomatoes wasn’t easy. First, Kim Chi had to get her parents’ approval: “They told me that I should stay home and help them with housework; that there is no use for a girl to play tag rugby, and that I should spend my free time doing my homework. They also thought I should not play sport because I got sick quite often.”

A smiling Vietnamese girl in a green t-shirt over a red shirt holds up her hand in victory Kim Chi, playing rugby for team Tomatoes

But Kim Chi’s persistence paid off, with her parents eventually changing their mind about this unusual game now being played in their village. Kim Chi explains: “Seeing my friends play the game, and knowing I had to stay home, made me try my hardest to complete the assigned house chores. This included cleaning the house, cooking meals, doing the laundry, and washing the dishes, as well as completing all my homework.

“Then I told my parents that if I got to play tag rugby, I would also be taught life skills by the coaches. Those skills are quite similar to the civil education lessons I learn at school. And I told them that this program is not only for boys but for all children. Finally, I promised them that I would not get sick playing rugby, so they didn’t have to worry!”

Kim Chi 3 web
Repeated requests from Kim Chi prompted her parents to do their own research. They spoke to other community members and found the program very interesting – particularly the life skills education provided, which helps young people in a range of areas including leadership, problem-solving, gender equity, conflict resolution and financial planning.

Kim was happy. “I am very grateful that they let me play. As I eat more after training, I have even gained weight and my health has improved and my parents have stopped their worrying.”

Since joining, she has also started to save money by applying the skills learned from the program. “This has made my parents happy. They can see me learning from the coaches.”

After being gifted with her own rugby ball, Kim Chi brings it to her village playground and teaches other children how to play tag rugby too. She doesn’t have a set of tags, but this hasn’t proved a problem so far.

Kim Chi explains: “We used leaves and string to make our own tags. We were very excited, and the parents were also excited watching us making our own tools and playing with each other.”

Kim Chi’s creativeness and her willingness to ‘pass it back’ shows the value of the program to young people. She has worked hard to make the most of this opportunity to play a new sport and learn valuable skills. Now, she is sharing her enjoyment with her village, and is a wonderful example of young people leading change in their communities.

-----------------------

Kim Chi plays rugby through ChildFund's Pass It Back program.