Sometimes in life you get a wonderful opportunity to do something different and for the past seven months I have had the joy of coaching Rugby to a wonderful group of young Indonesian ladies thanks to the great support from numerous sponsors and the Jakarta International School (JIS) which has provided a suitable training field each Saturday morning. Most of the ladies hail from the Mama Sayang Orphanage located in Jonggol, south of Jakarta plus a few others who have joined in with the regular sessions. As a culmination of all the hard training and learning work that these young ladies have put in over that time last weekend (October 12-13), eighteen of these ladies travelled to Bali to play in a Women’s Rugby 7s Tournament which was part of the 2013 Bali Rugby Fest played at the Canggu Club and wow did they deliver!
They toured as the ‘Cendrawasih Muda’ Team based on the fact that the Indonesian National Women’s 7s Team is known as the ‘Cendrawasih’ (or Birds of Paradise) and given this was very much a development squad made up of 17-20 year olds, the name ‘Muda’ was added to recognise the youthful element of the playing group. It is also important to note that Nancy Ryan, the 12 year old daughter of former Indonesian Rugby Secretary, Bill Ryan also joined the squad for the weekend.
The Cendrawasih Muda found themselves up against much older players from Australia and Malaysia but handled themselves with much aplomb and showed all the skills against their much bigger and more skilled opposition. Given that the Singapore team were short on numbers (with only Sarah and Emily from the Singapore Bucks in attendance) the Cendrawasih ladies were split into a Red and Blue team over the course of the weekend so that a four-team competition could still take place.
As a warm up to the two-day tournament of Rugby 7s, there was a great afternoon of ‘Beach Touch Rugby’ which was enjoyed by all. The efforts shown by the ladies that afternoon on Seminyak Beach to myself and my Assistant Coach, Peter Klestov (an AYAD working with Indonesian Rugby) indicated that we were in for a fun weekend of Rugby. The girls thoroughly enjoyed the chance to play some ‘Beach Rugby’ for the first time and it was great to see so many people walking by who stopped for a look at a not only a young group of Indonesians playing Rugby, but in fact a young group of Indonesian ladies playing Rugby. I am sure it was a real eye opener for them and it set the tone for what was to come over the weekend….
In their first two round of matches on Saturday October 12, the Red and Blue teams came up against the Bush Turkeyz from the Northern Territory of Australia and the Selangor Dingoes of Malaysia in round robin games. Although outsized and outmuscled by almost two to one, the tenacious young ladies from Indonesia were not to be outdone bringing off some great tackles and showing that they know how to scrum, ruck, maul, tackle, pass and run just like any other Rugby player from anywhere else in the world. The highlight of the match between the Blues and the Selangor Dingoes was the great work by halfback Mawar which resulted in her being awarded some pocket money for her efforts by a member of the Brigalow Bushwackers (from Australia). Late in the day the Reds played the Blues, with the Blues coming out on top 14-0 in a tight contest, following two tries to Dwi.
At the close of play on day one, the Kalamunda Bulls team from Perth, WA came to me and offered me a set of their club’s Junior Rugby playing kit which included several jerseys, shorts, socks and a kit bag as a donation to the Cendrawasih ladies. This kit was well received and I passed on a vote of thanks to Caine and all the boys from the Kalamunda Bulls.
Back at the Bali Ayu Hotel on the Saturday evening the girls looked battle weary but after some great Indonesian ‘makan’ and some team bonding they all said they were ready to go at it again on the Sunday and to prove it they were all up bright and early for breakfast and were ready to go again!
When the Cendrawasih Muda arrived at the Canggu Club on Sunday October 13 morning they were greeted to a rousing standing ovation by most of the male teams in attendance which was a sign of great things to come that day. Game one saw the Cendrawasih Reds up against the Selangor Dingoes, who were to run out winners despite the Reds going hard at them which was exemplified by winger Leha who put everything on the line including her body leading to a quick visit to the International SOS tent for a bit of First Aid. More surprises were in store for the crowd when in the match against the Bush Turkeyz some great lead up play saw Dharma sprint away for a try beside the posts. Upon scoring this try the entire crowd cheered the efforts of the whole team to get Dharma across the line for what was a memorable try.
Following this match, Mark Badham, the President of the Nedlands Rugby Club from Perth, WA, Australia, approached me and offered me part of his team’s kitty as a cash donation to the Cendrawasih Muda team for future development. I told Mark that I was very humbled by this donation and welcomed the gesture of giving to what is a great cause. Following on from this donation the call went out from Kurt Lovell of the Bali Rugby Club for all the other teams to dig deep and to ‘throw some money into the hat’. More on this later.
The Cendrawasih Muda had one last game between the Reds and Blues in the 3rd/4th Place Playoff match and as a tribute to the great efforts shown by all the team throughout the weekend all the teams formed a ‘guard of honour’ or a ‘tunnel’ for both teams to run through onto the field for this match. The young ladies were amazed by the camaraderie shown by all the men and it will forever live on as one of my great Rugby memories, as it will I am sure for all who were present that day. In this final match the Cendrawasih ladies once again played their hearts out across the field and it was very pleasing to see that efforts of the ladies over the course of the weekend had inspired my 11 year old daughter Rachel to join in and play with the ladies in this final match. Dharma who earlier in the day had scored a try against the Bush Turkeyz, showed that it was no fluke by skirting away to from the defence from 70m out from the try line to see the Reds take out this match 12-0 and to top of what was a great demonstration of Indonesian Women’s Rugby.
Now back to the ‘hat’ or ‘hats’ that were going around the crowd whilst this match was in progress….. As mentioned earlier the Nedlands Rugby Club started the ball rolling and by the end of the final Reds versus Blues match I was holding a plastic bag full of loose change from all the players, referees, officials and spectators gathered at the Canggu Club. When tallied up this money mostly in IDR amounted to close to a couple of thousand dollars and as a show of gratitude I thanked all in attendance for their wonderful generosity. The generosity was not to stop there as a couple teams then donated their team balls and cones plus the Sumbawa Nagas also made another sizable cash donation.
In the Final match between the Bush Turkeyz and the Selangor Dingoes, Shaima, Mawar, Leha and Angie were invited to play for the Dingoes and Dharma was invited to play for the Turkeyz. This was a great honour for the young Cendrawasih ladies in their first ever Bali Rugby Fest and congratulations go to the Selangor Dingoes for winning a tight final 12-7.
The spirit of Rugby shown through at the Awards Ceremony at the completion of play when standout Cendrawasih player over the weekend, the diminutive Dharma was voted the Most Valuable Player of the Women’s 7s Tournament by all of her peers. This was a wonderful acknowledgement of not only Dharma’s efforts but the entire squad of Cendrawasih Muda who were led well all weekend by senior members of the squad including Ester, Vinny, Lina, Shaima and Dwi.
This tour would never have been possible without the wonderful support of Mama Sayang’s Orphanage in providing young ladies to train every Saturday morning so cheers go to Mike and Jev Hilliard and all the team at the orphanage for their help in getting the ladies ready for training each Saturday. Thanks also goes to all the great sponsors and as such I would like to thank Britmindo (who have also sponsored the team kit plus transport to/from training each week), Britcham’s ‘Give Kids a Sporting Chance’, Gr8 Mates (it was great to see four of these gents in attendance over the weekend), Fez by Aphrodite, Priscilla Hall Memorial Foundation and Dean Jackson who all assisted to making this tour possible. Thanks must also go to Kurt & Faiz Lovell from the Bali Rugby Club for assisting the team in staying for a special rate at the Bali Ayu Hotel which was only 10 minutes away from the Canggu Club plus providing transport. The Bali Ayu Hotel and its staff should also be thanked for their great hospitality and the fact that several of the group were upgraded into villas from hotel rooms. A special mention should also go to Peter Klestov and Bill Ryan, plus Mieske from Mama Sayangs for all their help throughout the weekend and also to team mascot, my 4 year old son Nicholas who was part of the touring squad as well.
Life is a wonderful thing and to have experienced a great weekend away with the wonderful young ladies from the Cendrawasih Muda it just reinforces how great life can be!