Former teachers Glyn and Mary spent a year volunteering in Rwanda with VSO in 2014. During that time Glyn was asked to set up a rugby team at the teacher training college, TTC Mururu, where Mary worked. The college Principal knew that the welsh are famous for rugby and believed that was the only qualification Glyn needed in order to develop and coach a rugby squad. The college had one rather tatty rugby ball and Glyn was told that around 15 students would attend. So it was a bit of a shock when over 200 curious students turned up for the first session!
The team did really well in its first year and wore kit donated by Caldicot RFC. The story was told by Lauren Jenkins writing for the BBC.
The couple found out about a charity that was working in Rwanda – Friends of Rwandan Rugby- and became involved supporting through collecting thousands of kg of kit, fundraising and going on tour. The vast majority of teams and schools in Rwanda now play in old welsh club kits and it is not unusual to have local welsh derbies Rwandan style. It is testament to the generosity of the welsh clubs and their desire to help out the rugby family around the world.
In 2018 Glyn and Mary returned to Rwanda for another full year of volunteering. During that time the charity was due to fold and so they took it on. Being welsh and having fallen in love with Rwanda running a rugby charity in Rwanda was a perfect combination.
Since then the charity has grown considerably. 10 Rwandan rugby development officers (RDOs) are employed to work in 10 districts in Rwanda delivering regular coaching sessions in primary and secondary schools as well as developing club sides for mini, junior and senior rugby. Thousands of children are now playing rugby on a regular basis.
As well as funding the RDOs, the charity organises annual volunteer coaching tours. These provide an opportunity to take out much needed donated kit. In 2019 they took over 1200kg of donated rugby clothing, balls, boots, first aid kits and other training equipment. The tours take rugby to a new area of Rwanda to work with primary and secondary schools with children who have never seen a rugby ball before. The trip culminates in a tag tournament. More information about our volunteer coaching tours can be found on the website. Last year, for the first time, the charity ran an additional trip, a players’ tour, to train with the national team, the Silverbacks.
The Greyhound has been supporting FoRR since 2019 raising money and organising fundraisers and promoting the work of the charity. One of the great things about FoRR is that every penny raised goes directly to developing rugby for children in Rwanda. And that money goes a long way. The charity’s slogan #1for1for1 sums it up. £1 pays for 1 child to receive regular rugby coaching for 1 year.
Prior to being a teacher, Glyn was a professional drummer which has proved very useful for the fundraising events with him performing in the Greyhound with various bands and even running an African drum taster session with over 50 people developing their Djembe drum skills in the beer garden. And of course he is always very happy to spend time at his favourite inn.
Friends of Rwandan Rugby is always looking for donations of rugby kit and for volunteers to join them on the annual tour to Rwanda. More information about FoRR can be found here or on Facebook or Twitter @rwandanrugby.
In addition to the charity the couple are involved in other projects in Rwanda. Mary has set up a nursery school for 80 children in a very rural part of Rwanda where the nearest school was over an hour’s walk. They have also fundraised for teaching resources and toys and games in other Rwandan schools as well as setting up successful school links between schools in Wales and Rwanda.
Rwandan schools have very few resources and at the Greyhound we have collected thousands of bottle tops from the bar that Mary has been able to turn into learning resources such as bottle top number games, abacus and word games such as Scrabble. Our bottle tops have also been turned into resources used in welsh schools and universities to give them an experience of schooling in a developing country. They also feature in videos produced for the Numeracy for All project to help other international volunteers and teachers to make resources from waste materials. See YouTube
They have a fabulous dog called Belle who loves to visit us because of all of our dog treats and of course to say hello to the locals in the bar where she is very well known.
Donations to the charity can be made here