Samaritans’ Rugby Project Bearing Fruit in Shida Kartli

When Welsh invitational rugby team Crawshays visited Georgia recently for two tests against Emerging Georgia, they found that the sport is excelling at many levels in the country.

With two narrow victories against their Georgian hosts to take home, it was nevertheless a trip to Shida Kartli that may be their most precious memory to take back to the land of song, valleys and Tom Jones.

It is in this region of Georgia, still deeply affected by the 2008 war with Russia, that the project ‘Rugby for Socially Disadvantaged Children’ run by the Samaritan Association of Georgia (SSK) with assistance from the Austrian Samaritan Association and the Georgian Rugby Union continues to change the lives of youngsters. The project is now also supported both morally and financially by the NGO “Civil Alternative.”

While the Welsh visitors, along with their Georgian counterparts, gave masterclass sessions to some of the increasingly enthusiastic young rugby players in the village of Ditsi, it is former Georgian international Giorgi Kacharava who is at the heart of the project.

When Georgia Today reported on the project last autumn, Kacharava revealed that he wanted the project to be sustainable which would involve training local coaches.

It was pleasing to hear then, from SSK’s Irina Kldiashvili, that already two of the local coaches have now earned official certification to teach the kids and that, more broadly, the project continues to succeed.

“We are happy with the progress being made as the kids are really getting more and more involved in rugby. Giorgi has noticed a massive improvements in only a short time in terms of the children’s attitude and enthusiasm for the sport,” she noted.

Kacharava, back in the autumn, also talked of an ambition to form a club for the local kids to play in, something which appears to be nearing reality as the project has already seen the participating children compete twice against the Gori Lions.

With the project due to come to an end in August, the organizers are already planning for the future.

“If we want to expand we will have to explain to donors the benefit of doing so but so far it has been a very successful project,” added Kldiashvili.

Alastair Watt

11 June 2015 21:29