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Mbale Elephants Rugby Club and Community Centre

Our project is to rejuvenate the grounds and clubhouse of a former Rugby Club after 40 years of inactivity. By re-building this facility, with the involvement of the local community, we will create a hub for adults and children alike, enabling them to engage in a variety of sports as well as activities with other clubs, groups and pastimes. We will of course support Rugby, which is not a new sport to Uganda. The country had its most successful rugby years in the 1950s / 60s. Interest in the sport waned until the early 90s when domestic competition returned to Uganda, primarily focused around adult males in the capital Kampala. There are over 15,000 school children living in and around Mbale, most of whom lack the facilities required to fulfil any sporting aspirations. This project will deliver a quality playing field for rugby and other games. The clubhouse will be designed as a multipurpose facility. It will be open throughout the week to a range of local NGO groups to use for project work with children and adults complimenting the educational infrastructure in Mbale. Many positive youth development programmes operate in Uganda, and those that use sport as a vehicle for development are rapidly gaining popularity. However, much of this development activity is in and around Kampala. We feel the real challenge is to take sport to new areas, such as Mbale, where even the most basic resources are in short supply. The grant will be used to construct the clubhouse. On-going management and maintenance costs will be covered by a low level of subsidy from the teams, groups and clubs that use the facility. We have identified local candidates to act as Property Managers whom we would ensure are fully trained and supported to manage the facility.

Who is the sponsoring organization?

Tag Rugby Trust (TRT). The Tag Rugby Trust is a rugby based children’s charity founded in 2002. It exists to help improve the lives of children in some of the poorest regions of the world. We currently work with orphanages and government schools in India, Zambia, Uganda, Kenya, Romania and Mexico. Our development tours pitch UK and local volunteers together to work closely with children and teachers introducing Tag Rugby, hosting a Tournament and leaving skills and equipment to continue playing. We are passionate rugby people and know the power sport has to break down barriers and create life-long friendships. Above all, we believe that these positive experiences should be available to growing “rugby nations” that lack resources and opportunities to include children in the sport. We provide that opportunity. TRT has learnt that for a community based sports programme to be a success the first three years are crucial. Fewer than 1 in 10 projects make it this far and many communities are weary of a drop-in / drop-out attitude. We pay strict attention to the lesson and focus on building trust and patience to really see tangible benefits being delivered. Our noteworthy achievements include 20,000 children through the programme, nearly 400 teachers trained to coach, 37 tournaments hosted and over 1,200 balls and 5,000 tags distributed to schools and clubs. In rugby terms we have produced two internationals players (one male, one female), a school that has won the all-India u-16 title two years running from a standing start in 2006 and over half the U-19 national squad for boys and girls in Uganda learnt the sport through our programme. Outside of rugby we are providing leadership training 16 to 19 year olds in Uganda and India, many of whom were introduced to Tag Rugby on Tours in 2005, 06 and 07.

Where will the project be located?

Mbale, Mbale, Uganda

Site of the old Mbale Rugby Club. The site is approximately 130m x 200m parallelogram, predominantly flat with a rise of c.3m to the southern boundary. This gradient rise continues uphill beyond the site. There is an unfinished structure on site. A ruined pavilion with flat terrace and steps is covered in vegetation and indistinguishable unless informed of its existence. The site is enclosed by a 2m barbed wire fence erected recently by the club members with funding from the Ugandan Rugby Union to prevent encroachers using the land. The main road borders to the west with Grace Primary School and several private houses in the vicinity. A track borders to the south with several established and well maintained private homes. Access to the site is proposed from this track. Site lines and the junction with the main road are good. The eastern boundary is surrounded by agricultural land, a local church and some private homes.

Do facilities at the location need to be constructed or upgraded?

Yes. The project is to construct a multi-purpose community clubhouse for use by the Mbale Elephants Rugby Club and local NGOs. Mbale is a town in south-eastern Uganda with a population of 84,000. It is 150 miles northeast of Kampala, on an all weather tarmac highway. By being multi-purpose in design, the clubhouse would accommodate the rugby club at weekends and be available for other community uses during the week.

Are any further architectural or design services required?

Yes. The scheme will be developed with Architecture for Humanity London, and we are currently engaging with a partner architect in Uganda that can supervise the build and act as the Project Architects

Would this project benefit from the assistance of construction professionals?

Yes. We are currently receiving structural and services input and expertise from professionals in the UK that have experience of working in Uganda. For the actual construction we will seek to use local builders and labour, which could be combined with volunteers from the local community seeking to apply existing and learn new building skills.