Dolen is working in partnership with the Federation of Lesotho Rugby to deliver a rugby programme for school children in Lesotho and in September 2014 the Lesotho Rugby Academy was launched.
This programme works with schools to introduce kids to rugby whilst delivering some important messages about healthy living. In a desperately poor country where 1 in 4 of the population are HIV positive, rugby can offer children the chance to be part of a team and something to work hard for, whilst also teaching them about common health issues and how to avoid them.
NAME: Alex Ncheke
SCHOOL: Lesia High School
“I started playing rugby around 2015 when Coach Roy came to our school. Before that, I played handball and did athletics. I’d never played before, but had seen rugby on TV. I was a bit afraid. Coach Roy told me I had potential and encouraged me to join the Maseru Warriors where I learned new skills. I moved from No. 8 to the wing for a game in South Africa. That was a big lesson, but I scored a try.
"Coach Roy taught us a lot. He taught us about gender equality. He taught us how to protect ourselves from HIV, like wearing gloves when dressing a wound and that girls should not date old men. He taught us smoking was bad, that it can give you lung cancer and we shouldn’t smoke when we play sport, because our heart can beat twice as fast. He taught us that beer can damage your liver.
"Rugby helps you in your life so much. Rugby helped me to focus at school. After training I would do my school work. I got good marks – better than my friends who didn’t play rugby.
"I don’t drink or smoke, because I want to be healthy. At my town in Ha Tsolo, boys are acting like gangsters, sitting in bars. I might have joined them – there is nothing to keep you busy. Now I go the gym and I train."
The programme was the brainchild of Dan Aylward who spent 2 years working for the Lesotho government in Maseru.