March 24, 2014
Two of the greatest rugby legends of all time, former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick and Morné du Plessis, manager of the 1995 Springboks team which won the Rugby World Cup, took part in a memorable coaching session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on the eve of the Laureus World Sports Awards.
The young adults, who benefited from the coaching session from the two Laureus World Sports Academy Members, came from the Combined Old Boys Rugby Association (COBRA), which was established in 1967 to provide an avenue for rugby school leavers to continue playing rugby. COBRA has trained over 750 teachers and works throughout Malaysia to promote the game of rugby.
Staged in co-operation with charity Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia (YR1M), the event promoted the use of rugby as a tool for social change. Laureus Academy Members Fitzpatrick and du Plessis joined COBRA coaches in skills sessions with the young participants. COBRA’s objectives are to use rugby to promote national integration, encourage positive values, improve self-esteem, employability and the development of the Malaysian Under-19 national team.
They were joined at the coaching clinic by Laureus World Sports Academy Member and Olympic gold-medal winning Russian gymnast Alexey Nemov, and fellow Academy Member and double Olympic decathlon champion Daley Thompson, who took part in the world-famous haka, the Maori celebration, led by Sean Fitzpatrick, to mark the end of the visit.
More than 100 youngsters, aged 6-19, took part in the coaching clinic. They gave the visitors a warm and colourful Malaysian welcome, waving flags from Malaysia, New Zealand, Russia and South Africa.
Sean Fitzpatrick, Vice Chair of the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, said: “I am not sure Alexey quite got the hang of the haka, but it was great to see some of the young guys having a go. This was a wonderful day and a perfect example of what Laureus is about. This is the first time the Laureus World Sports Awards have been held in South East Asia and a great chance to share moments like this with enthusiastic young players in this part of the world who could go on to become great players and coaches. I would like to thank Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia for sharing this opportunity with us.”
Ung Su Ling, Chief Executive Officer of Yayasan Rakyat 1Malaysia, said: “This was a wonderful example of how great champions can be such powerful role models for young players. It was fascinating seeing them react to the coaching they received and how they interacted with the Laureus Academy Members. They will all have gone away from this session inspired and motivated. YR1M and Laureus are organisations that use sport to help and encourage young people and it is very positive to be working together on programmes like this. We also hope that in the future we can work more extensively with partners like COBRA.”