1,500 balls for school rugby players

The school-based "Pass It On" programme reflects SRU president Low Teo Ping's desire that every young player should own a rugby ball.
The school-based "Pass It On" programme reflects SRU president Low Teo Ping's desire that every young player should own a rugby ball.ST PHOTO: ALICIA CHAN

While the HSBC World Rugby Sevens Series next year will mark the return of elite competition here, the Singapore Rugby Union (SRU) remains committed to promoting the sport at the grassroots level.

Those playing the sport in schools will each receive a rugby ball as part of a programme called Pass It On.

The initiative is the brainchild of SRU president Low Teo Ping, who wants every rugby-playing youth to possess his own ball. "We want to reach out and encourage interest in the sport from a young age," he said.

The SRU noted that most kids only come in contact with a rugby ball at their twice weekly school training sessions. Having their own rugby ball would allow them to practise handling the uniquely-shaped ball whenever they want.

Launched jointly by the SRU and law firm Quahe Woo & Palmer, the project aims to hand out 1,500 rugby balls to those in primary and secondary schools by next March.

About 800 primary school players have benefited from the project so far. This is believed to be the first time a national sports association is giving out equipment to each student of the game on such as scale.

Each ball has space for a player to write his name, which allows him to "claim ownership of the ball", according to Low.

Quahe Woo & Palmer will cover the cost of the programme, which SRU general manager George Danapal said involved a "hefty sum".

So far, 16 primary schools have come on board, with West View Primary's rugby team being the latest beneficiaries.

About 100 delighted children received the balls at Regent Secondary School yesterday.

West View's Under-11 rugby team captain Janaardhanaprabu Dhanasekaran was thrilled to finally own his own ball.

"I'm very proud to receive the ball from a big union. It will motivate me to do better," said the 11-year-old who has been in the sport for three years.

West View coach Peerose Shah described the initiative as an "excellent programme". "It is good for rugby as it creates awareness at the grassroots level," he added.

Every primary school pupil in the programme will also get a complimentary ticket for the Sevens World Series here.

Rugby Singapore - the events and commercial arm of the SRU - is also launching an Adopt A Nation programme in January.

Sixteen schools will be selected to pair up with teams participating in the competition.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 14, 2015, with the headline '1,500 balls for school rugby players'. Print Edition | Subscribe