The dry season brings with it a layer of dust that covers most of the city. It’s also the first time in months that any of the playing surfaces are dry enough to run around on without sliding around like on an ice rink.
We drew quizzical glances as the novices looked at us with wary anticipation – we’d come before back in the last dry season but the playing area was covered in rubble so we did drills and team building games in the cramped courtyard in front the school building. This time we ran the session in the playing field that still has some rather inconveniently placed trees and opportunities to stub your toe so hard it knocks the nail clean off.
Laughter came in trickles as we began the warm up – lunges, opening and closing the gate, high knees and heel flicks. Then it was tag-belts, robes, shaved heads and clouds of dust as we did the “up and under” game, 2 on 1s, 3 on 2s and into a version of netball/rugby/basketball that will be moulded more into to the shape of the oval balled game over time. New coach Zar Ni Kyaw turned up a little late but interpreted the instructions well and helped reduce the wild gesticulating and frantic demonstrations that preceded her arrival.
None of this would have been possible without Ko Aung Ko Oo. Open minded, receptive and keen, Ko Aung Ko Oo is the Education Policy Manager at the Monastic Education Development Group (MEDG). This community organisation supports the improvement of Monastic Education across Myanmar. Registered with Ministry of Religious affairs, these schools act as low cost or no cost private schools covering the national curriculum often to the most disadvantaged children. To date MEDG has been working in seven states and has delivered support to over 445 schools. MEDG plans to roll out support to over 900 schools by 2017.
After the session there were big smiles and cheers. This is the third group the Little Dragons work with and Ko Aung Ko Oo has agreed to select 30 novices we can train regularly and develop into the first monastic Rugby team in Myanmar.
Ben Mudd, Rugby and Development enthusiast.