Though it may only be a sandy patch of ground, the Saca Chispas field in San Pedro made history recently as it became the venue for the first official training session for children participating in Belize’s newest sports activity, rugby, as members of the San Pedro Turtles rugby club.
“We’re starting small,” says Martin Dawson, organisor of the San Pedro Turtles, “and we are aiming to get a rugby sevens team organized very soon. We know there are more children and youth in San Pedro that would like to play rugby with us, and they are welcome to come along”. The game, already popular throughout Central America, is played by both girls and boys, young and old, and in a variety of variations. The hugely popular version, Rugby Sevens – the variant that will feature in the 2016 Rio Olympics, is where the Belize Rugby Board will be focusing its efforts to grow and develop the sport in Belize.
Under the guiding hand of Martin Dawson as Organisor, San Pedro Turtles RUFC has been very fortunate to attract the attention of San Pedro resident Alex Almas, a qualified coach, and he has now run two training sessions with the eager youngsters.
“Volunteers like Alex are going to be so important for this sport.” Says Rugby Belize Founder, Tony Gillings, “Rugby can be a rough game, it’s very physical and that’s why it attracts youngster; they can let off steam while getting fit and being part of and enjoying an unbeatable team spirit environment.”
Gillings has already set up community-based rugby clubs in Hattieville, Orange Walk and Belmopan but hopes to establish more across the country, “We want to organize a domestic league as quickly as possible, with teams competing against each other from northern and southern districts. From these teams we will select players for a national sevens and 15-man teams to compete internationally.” Rugby Belize, under the auspices of the Belize Rugby Board, has already established links with rugby federations in Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica and further afield and plans are afoot to participate in international friendlies “as soon as we can” says Tony.
Rugby Belize is looking for players – men, women, girls and boys of all ages who would like to give it a go, no experienced necessary as we will have coaches on hand. Training events are planned throughout the country, and anybody interested should go to www.rugbybelize.com and make contact.”
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