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A British Royal Air Force (RAF) rugby union team is visiting Kolkata and Siliguri for an 11 day tour that will see them compete in the Calcutta International Sevens Tournament at Sailen Munna Stadium, Howrah and support Khelo Rugby in some of Kolkata’s and Siliguri’s disadvantaged communities.
The RAF Rugby Sevens Team ( www.rafrugby7s.co.uk ), named after the iconic Spitfire fighter plane that was once deployed over the skies of Kolkata as air defence, is visiting Kolkata for the fourth successive year to coach and teach children about the sport of rugby.
The Deputy High Commissioner to Eastern India, Mr Scott Furssedonn-Wood said: ‘It’s great to welcome the Spitfires back to Kolkata. They’re here not just to play some top-quality rugby but to support the brilliant work that the Jungle Crows Foundation & Khelo Rugby do with disadvantaged children in Kolkata and beyond. It’s a powerful example of how sport can change lives for the better.’
The RAF Spitfires will focus on two main areas during their visit – to support the work and activities of ‘Khelo Rugby’ ( http://www.facebook.com/Khelorugby ) a Kolkata sports development programme run by city club the Jungle Crows ( http://www.junglecrows.com/ ) and to play in the Calcutta International Sevens at Sailen Munna Stadium. This year, 16 teams are competing in the Calcutta International Sevens tournament.
The RAF, along with all the services in the British Military, is enthusiastic about sport, with rugby in particular having a long tradition within the armed services. Rugby Sevens is the shortened version of rugby union and was played at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi and will be played in the 2016 Olympic Games. India has a growing international presence in Rugby Sevens.
Khelo Rugby was started in 2010 by the Jungle Crows to take their passion for rugby into the lives of children who would not normally get the chance to play any sport. Khelo today has regular rugby coaching in 14 disadvantaged communities across the city and also has programmes in Chennai and Dumka (Jharkhand). The Khelo Rugby programme is led by Zaffar Khan who is the current Captain of the Jungle Crows and has played rugby for India. Lieutenant Colonel Simon Colyer, RA, from the British High Commission, New Delhi Defence Section will be visiting in support of the tour.
The RAF Spitfires will spend time in a number of Khelo communities coaching and playing rugby with the Khelo children. Members from the Media are welcome to join the RAF Spitfires to observe their coaching work with the children and cover the tournaments; and talk to the visitors about their experience in Kolkata.
RAF SPITFIRES VISIT TO KOLKATA AND SILIGURI – A BRIEF PROGRAMME – 14 – 23 June 2014
The RAF Team arrived in Kolkata on June 14 and had various programmes including a visit to Don Bosco Ashalayam Orphanage. They travelled to Siliguri on 16 June for various coaching and games schedules including coaching and games with the children of Mirik Night School and Khelo Rugby Festival in Saraswatipur Village.
Friday 20 June
10 am: Khelo Rugby Kolkata Tournament hosted at the Jungle Crows new field on the Calcutta Maidan
Saturday 21 June & Sunday 22 June
10 am: Calcutta International Sevens Tournament at Sailen Munna Stadium, Howrah