India's Touch Rugby team crowdfunds, scrapes to board Youth World Cup flight

After fighting to ensure participation and setting up a crowdfunding campaign, the Indian Touch Rugby team managed to find a way to participate in the Youth Touch Rugby World Cup in Malaysia.

A 14-member Indian touch rugby team will represent the country in the third edition of Youth Touch Rugby World Cup in Malaysia from August 8-11.   -  Special Arrangement

This dream required at least Rs 10 lakh to materialise. They managed Rs 21,875 through crowdfunding. Shoulders slumped. Malaysia beckoned, but help was not at hand. But the fighting spirit surfaced, and resolve won the day.

A 14-member Indian touch rugby team will be on a flight to Malaysia after all, having spent much time and energy in scrounging for money. The team, accompanied by four officials, will participate in the third edition of Youth Touch Rugby World Cup, August 8-11.

"The team will leave for Malaysia on Monday night from Jaipur," Tarsem Sharma, general secretary of Touch Rugby Federation of India told Sportstar.

The Indian Touch Rugby team leaving for Malaysia to take part in Youth World Cup.   -  Special Arrangement

 

Touch Rugby is a variant of rugby. It does not involve bone-crunching tackles. Instead, players merely touch their opponents. Once touched, a player has to pass the ball. The sport has its takers among different age groups because of the reduced risk of injury.

India will participate in the mixed team event in Malaysia against traditionally strong rugby playing nations like New Zealand, South Africa and Australia. Three men and three women can take the field during a mixed team match.

The Touch Rugby Federation of India (with 22 state associations), affiliated to Federation of International Touch, found no government support to ensure the team's participation in the event. Private companies too shied away. The TRFI and the players decided to fend for themselves after their crowdfunding initiative did not generate the kind of money they had hoped for.

So, how did they manage?

"It was a big struggle for us to arrange the money. There was no support from the government or companies," said TRFI media manager Sweety Singh. "A few who did help needed much convincing. I had to explain the sport to some of them," she added.

"Most of the players are from poor families, but their relatives stepped in to keep their dream afloat. Some TRFI officials and the team's coach Arvind Kumar also contributed," she added.  

After fighting to ensure participation, the young team will hope to put up similar fighting displays during its campaign. A good show on the world stage may earn them the recognition they crave.