Rugby Tackling Life (RTL) is more than just about Rugby – we want to develop the whole individual and equip them for life off the Rugby field. Life skills education (SRHR advocacy) is part of the RTL programme which is geared towards empowering young girls and women to make informed decisions regarding their health and life so as to address key issues such as adoption of safer health behaviours, staying in school, choosing suitable careers, relationships, teenage pregnancy, STIs, alcohol and drug abuse etc. It also addresses the often unrealistic expectations placed on male teenagers as well as their interactions with their peers – both male and female.
How to build a network.
As the Rugby coaches of various teams spend a lot of time with their players, RTL purposed to train the coaches in “Life skills education and SRHR advo cacy”. This was aimed at empowering them with knowledge and skills on young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights as well as equipping them with facilitation skills so as they are able to conduct life skills education sessions within their clubs or during outreach Rugby sessions. The training was organised in partnership with Muvubuka Agunjuse Youth Centre in Mengo, Kampala which has a lot of experience in adolescent healthincluding service provision. This training attracted eleven coaches from Apac, Busia,Jinja, Kampala, Kitgum, Lira, Pakwach and Wakiso ensuring geographical spread. The coaches selected for the training were those involved in coaching of girls’ and women’s teams in their districts and regions. This was a deliberated effort to ensure integration of life skills education into Rugby training. In view of capacity needs of coaches RTL had two technical volunteers who supported the coaches in terms of mentoring and being available for consultations hence ensuring that the coaches were comfortable holding life skills education sessions and providing SRHR information to young people. In addition, advocacy tips also proved very useful to the coaches as they utilised them to get support towards girls’ Rugby as well as time and space allocation.
Furthermore; RTL facilitated two young coaches who are also life skills education facilitators to participate in an SRHR youth camp organised by Reach A hand Uganda (RAHU), a youth led organisation. This was aimed to expose the young facilitators to moreskills and practical experience on SRHR as well as an opportunity to network with fellow youth and facilitators thus enhancing peer learning.
To sum it up and why boys need to be included.
By December 2017, a total of 535 adolescents (12 – 24 years old) were reached with SRHR information during the RTL life skills education sessions of which 18% were boys. The life skills education sessions turned out to be very popular with both the female and male players as they provided key opportunities and safe spaces for them to discuss SRHR issues which are considered sensitive at times. The school administrations also applauded RTLs approach of using sports as a strategy and for many head teachers, the life skills education sessions is what convinced them to include rugby as one of the sports in their school. Schools admitted to having issues around teenage pregnancy, drugs etc and lack of capacity to conduct life skills education sessions or pass on SRHR information that responds to the needs of adolescents appropriately. The inclusion of boys and young men in the life skills education programme is ensuring that both the female and male stakeholders work side by side to reduce the vulnerabilities and risks that teenagers in communities face in addition to breaking the gender barriers.
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