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A Place To Call ‘My Club’ – Update on Rugby Belize

The following blog is written by Tony Gillings, the founder of Rugby Belize.

Wait, what 2017 is done?  How did that happen? Did I actually take a summer vacation this year?  I…can’t…remember….

Yeah, apparently the year is over.

I don’t know where time is going, but it certainly isn’t coming my way! Suddenly, everybody else is talking about Santa Claus and Snowflake Christmas decorations, and I’m still talking about the beach rugby event (which happened at Easter).

It’s a mental thing – I just can’t keep up with these short 12 months in the year, they need to be at least 5 days longer and with more hours on the weekends too. Never going to happen I’m told, but then somebody else says you have to dream / aim high. So, I’m going to start a campaign group for something akin to a Martian calendar to be introduced here on Planet Rugby. That’s the only way I’ll ever accept Christmas coming round so quickly. And Easter. And, for that matter, my birthdays!

It is with all that in mind that I have to present a review of things relevant to Rugby Belize that happened in 2017. LOL, back to the Beach Rugby (which happened at Easter)….

As some of you will know, rugby is new to Belize (British troops playing the game years ago don’t actually count because no Belizeans were in their team).  So, I started it. This year, we broke new ground (in some instances quite literally as the Belizean rugbiers threw themselves at the mercy of their fellow virgin rugbiers!), with a beach rugby tournament.  This was a roaring success and will be repeated this coming Easter which is some 12 mo…no wait, THREE MONTHS away!!!!!

Then, we took rugby 7s as a demonstration game into the Central Prison in July. First time ever. A truly mind blowing experience (especially if you are familiar with the violent society most of these lost souls come from in Belize City). The program we plan to introduce is called “Rugby for Rehabilitation” and is designed to give inmates an outlet for their energies and aggression, and a sports club they can join when they are released. We start it early next year.

What has this to do with mental health issues I hear somebody ask… Youth in Belize have nowhere to go outside school (if they even attend) and many come from poverty-stricken socio-economically challenged backgrounds. Facilities for sport in Belize are poor at best and in short supply. So there’s a lot of pent-up aggression, anxiety and energy just wondering around our streets with nowhere to go. This inevitably leads to anti-social behavior and criminal activity quickly follows. If this is what happens to otherwise healthy teenagers and youngsters, it’s even worse for those with often undiagnosed mental health challenges, like depression, and those being bullied for a whole variety of reasons.

Rugby offers a release. That’s my overriding ambition – to provide these souls with a place to call ‘my club’, where rugby allows them to be kids – letting off steam in a controlled, safe, yet enjoyable environment with mates. And it is working. It’s doing my mental health a whole lot of good as well , although people still say I’m crazy!

Last month we held our first inter-district championship – first time rugby was played at the National Stadium…speaking of which the next one is due to start in four months time – holy cow! I need to stop writing and start planning……OK, gotta go, see you next month

TG.

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