A hazy Sunday afternoon in PJ and a group of red and black shirted boys from seven to eighteen years old are in groups doing drills on the Padang Utara field in Petaling Jaya. Coaches, Malaysian, English, Argentinian and more, watch carefully as the boys line up, form scrums and toss the ball from one to the other.
“The main focus here is their safety, giving them the structure of the game and encouraging them to have fun”, explains Ian Johns, head of the Bintang Rugby Club and chief coordinator of the activity on the field.
“We’ve been doing this for around 10 years,” he explains, “and around 250 boys from over forty countries are signed up”.
Practice occurs every Sunday, all year round, from 2pm to 4pm. “We watch out for lightning because it is an open space, and get everyone off the field when a storm is approaching.”
Working with many of the schools around KL, both local and international, the Bintang Rugby Club has earned a reputation for well trained, disciplined players.
Working with sponsors, the club is able to provide free training to boys along with two training shirts and a Bintang Rugby cap. Boots and shorts must be provided by the players themselves.
Scattered across the field, the youngest players are closest to the observing parents. Good natured chatter and an eagle eye on the actions makes sure everyone catches the highlights. “We encourage at least one parent to stay for the training – about 50% of rugby is the social element and we encourage that,” notes Previn, one of the parents and organizers of the event. All the boys wear mouth protection as well.
“We’d like to see more kids come out and play. We have an annual tournament where we play many other teams over two days. Last year it was at Alice Smith school and over 1,800 boys turned out from countries as far afield as Dubai and Hong Kong.” Ian pauses as he contemplates the logistics of that weekend. “Next time, we expect to see over 2,000 boys playing.”
The club plays regularly in tournaments. “We get invited to most of the tournaments around the city,” Ian comments.
There is a relaxed atmosphere around the ground, as the coaches (many of them parents of the boys playing) shout encouragement and direction across the field. This has to be one of the nicest ways to spend a few hours in Kuala Lumpur.
For more information on the Bintang Rugby Club, visit www.klminirugby.com.
Source: The Expat November 2011
This article has been edited for ExpatGomalaysia.com
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