Grassroots Rugby: Little Dragons
We look at a rugby development program in Myanmar, called the Little Dragons, which was founded in 2015.
Motto: “Do the best you can”
City: East Dagon, Yangon, Myanmar
Year Founded: 2015
Honours: (awards won, recognition):
- TedX talk Yangon
- Winners of the March Yangon Irrawaddy touch cup winners.
Grassroots rugby: Yangon
Tell us a little about how the organization formed:
The Little Dragons was founded 4 years ago, in 2015, by Banyar, Thint Myat, Ben and Aung Kyaw Linn. Together, they noticed a serious lack of opportunities for young children in a sporting environment and the lack of educational opportunities in general. As a result, they created the Little Dragons to help bridge that gap.
How do you support rugby development/grassroots rugby and who do you target?
Our main target is the development of young people in socio-economically challenged areas such as East Dagon. We target young people who wouldn’t normally have the opportunity or access to a rugby club such as the Little Dragons (LD’s).
The club is completely run by volunteers and we support grassroots rugby by using our knowledge of the game and our skills as teachers to help and improve their sport, language and social skills. The club is open to anyone who wants to join and it runs every Sunday.
What are the biggest challenges you face?
Facilities are probably our biggest issue.
If there isn’t a cockfight match taking place we often have to share our small patch of playing surface with water buffalos.
Furthermore, the ground itself becomes rock hard in the dry season and a swamp in the wet season. This limits the season we can play and is also very tough on the feet. This especially doesn’t help when most, if not all our members, play barefoot.
We have had a couple of setbacks with trying to create a larger platform for the Little Dragons due to the low popularity of the sport in Myanmar, a loss in sponsorship, and losing a large number of members with monastic education prioritising this over playing sport. However, with the strong core of members, we currently have, and with a steady flow of new faces that come and join, we feel the Little Dragons will continue to grow organically.
What are some of the highlights or achievements of the organization?
- Winning the Irrawaddy cup
- Getting the opportunity to take part in a TedX talk
- Having the first and only Myanmar touch rugby team
- Promoting gender equality within the team
- Educational workshops Little dragons academy – Integrating the older kids into adult touch rugby
What support do you get and how can other people support or help?
The main support we have is Aung Kyaw Linn, one of the co-founders of the Little Dragons. He not only coaches but he plays, translates, organises food and transport. Without him, the Little D’s couldn’t happen. We have fantastic volunteers that come and help out with training and even run sessions in our absence.
We also get some donations of sporting equipment, clothes and school items for the LD’s. The Yangon Dragons RFU community have been helping from the beginning and their support is greatly appreciated.
People can help by either volunteering their time to training or using their position of power to help in any way they can, such as a workshop lesson. We have been very fortunate to have the 50th street restaurant help sponsor us. They kindly donate money to help with the running costs of the charity. This is so important and crucial for the LD’s to function. We are continually looking for more sponsorship as this will have such a positive and direct effect on each and every member.
Finally, tell us why you love your organization and what does the future hold in store?
Wow! What a question. I can only speak from my personal experience about why I love the Little Dragons organisation.
I love Little Dragons because it is an opportunity to show these amazing young people the world of rugby and all the opportunities it can create and the relationships you can build with it. The LD’s is much more than just a club, it’s a team, a family if you will. The dedication these kids show when playing rugby every Sunday, in the blistering Myanmar heat, even though it’s their only day off from school or work, always with a smile on their face and a willingness to learn, play a bit harder, push themselves a bit more, is inspiring.
I love this organisation because it’s created a platform for Little Dragons to thrive in a challenging environment that currently doesn’t have the programs to do so.It is also wonderful to be part of a team that is breaking down walls of gender expectations within Myanmar and the sporting community.
It’s fantastic to be working with this outstanding team. It’s a great privilege to have this opportunity to work with these amazing young people.
What we are hoping for in the future is to have a fully established Myanmar Rugby Football Union. This will not only create jobs, but also benefit everyone involved on so many levels. Rugby and sport have a unique opportunity to not only develop physiological factors but cognitive, social and emotional awareness.
Rugby is well known for its spirit in excellent sportsmanship and its very essence has the ability to develop all of these positive factors. We would like to be able to share this to as many young people as possible and for the sport to spread throughout Myanmar.
We have some older members who have been a part of the club when it started and have the potential to lead their own sessions. With help, it would be a great achievement to train these young players to become coaches and create different clubs around Yangon including rugby sessions in schools with the same concept that has been driving the Little Dragons for the past 4 years.
It is amazing to think that there are only 40 children in the whole of Myanmar that are playing rugbyright now. Witnessing their successes first hand and seeing how they have improved, there is no reason why this can’t be expanded and continue to help others.
You can contact Little Dragons via:
Thanks to Joshua and Brad from the Little Dragons for the answers.