Many of our Athletes in Excellence award winners volunteer with groups that utilize sport to promote development in high poverty areas. Ms. Lao Khang of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic (Lao PDR) is one athlete who has been on both sides of such efforts. She was nominated by the Lao Rugby Federation (LRF) for the Athletes in Excellence Award, and we are thrilled to honor her achievements in sport with this award.
LAO KHANG ENCOUNTERS RUGBY
Ms. Khang is from a small village called Nomgonnoua in the Nonghet District of Lao PDR. This village is one of the target areas for the LRF’s Sport for Development project, which reaches out to the young members of villages to teach rugby skills and fitness. In addition to these key elements of the program, the outreach programs deliver to youth messages surrounding the LRF’s core values: friendship, respect, solidarity, discipline, and perseverance. The project also promotes health, good hygiene skills, and leadership development.
As a villager in one of LRF’s target districts, Lao Khang first encountered rugby and sport through this outreach program. Like many of the young women in her district, rugby was the first organized sport Lao ever played. She quickly developed an interest in the sport, and the LRF identified her as an outstanding candidate for an internship with their organization. During her time as an intern, Lao eagerly learned more about rugby, coaching, office skills and administration tasks, computer literacy and media skills, and she also worked to improve her Lao language as a native H’mong speaker.
AN ADVOCATE FOR SPORT
Lao excelled during her internship, and she has since taken on the role of Rugby Development Officer and become a leader in the Sport for Development Project in the community. Not only does she compete with the Vientiane Lions Women’s Rugby Club, which allows her to travel abroad for competitions, but she also returns to Nonghet each month to serve as a role model for the young children – especially young girls – in her home community. During these visits she coaches the children and works with the players, coaches, and leaders to improve their skills.
During her time in this role, Lao has coordinated eight youth competitions in the Nonghet District – four of which were all-female competitions that involved athletes from 12 villages. She is especially focused on inspiring confidence in female youth leaders through their participation in rugby.
We are excited by Lao’s story, as it reveals the true impact sport for development can have on individual lives. She has gone above and beyond in her experience with sport, as she gives back to her community using the same tools which shaped her own leadership and competitor skills.
Learn more about Lao in the videos below: