Rugby Union

RAF Rugby 7s Team Release Documentary On India Trip

The RAF Rugby 7s team have released a documentary of their trip to India where they competed in an international tournament and worked with local children.

Their visit to the country took place earlier this year – prior to the COVID-19 lockdown.

The personnel spent much of their time in the country working with children in Bangalore, giving them rugby lessons and also immersing themselves in the local culture.

The team, who are also called the Spitfires, have made regular visits to India for the past 10 years.

Squadron Leader Tim Barlow, the team's executive director, said: "It was such an amazing trip and it offers so much, that every time you go, it is a complete privilege.

"You’ll see some of the kids from year to year and you see them develop.

"Some of them are now getting jobs, getting education, working within the charity kind of rugby that we help with, and it’s really brilliant to see them progress.

"There’s some real success stories, particularly amongst the girls. A lot of the girls have gone on to play for India and get education which they’d have never really had the opportunity to get before."

Sergeant Jamie Douglas had praise for the people they met on the trip and called the Bangalore visit "incredible".

"Thankfully, we’ve had the opportunity to get out there a few times now," he said.

Personnel ran rugby sessions for children while in the country (Picture: RAF).
Personnel ran rugby sessions for children while in the country (Picture: RAF).

"The one that we made the documentary about in Bangalore was incredible. It was awesome. An awesome experience.

"They are so welcoming. Every year we go out and the village put on a little ceremony. This one was particularly special because they had the opening of their community centre.

"They will welcome you into their house. We meet their families. They’ll take you in and have cups of tea. They’re just such lovely people with very little but they’ll make the most of everything they’ve got."

Sgt Douglas also said how the ability to communicate was vital during the tour.

He said: "We really rely in the Air Force on communication skills and these young guys are coming up with new ideas. Some of them are designing little diagrams with sticks on the ground for the kids to understand.

"They say English is the first language but it’s very pidgin English from what we’re used to. Especially when you go into the village and they’ve got their own kind of dialect," he added.

“Communication is very difficult out there but the guys did excellently. They all sort of adapted to it.

"Before you know it by the end of the tour, you’ve got your way. You’ve got your way down and can get it nailed down. The kids understand you and have fun with it."

You can watch the documentary on the RAF's YouTube channel here.