Gainline Africa uses rugby for international development

Ari Salas
Sports Reporter

Humber students and Gainline Africa are empowering youth in post-conflict Ugandan communities by using rugby to bridge cross-cultural boundaries.

A group of post-graduate fundraising and volunteer management students are raising money for the Canadian sports for development charity with Passport to Gulu, said student and team chair Brittney Black.

The 19 and older event will be held on April 25 at the Baltic Avenue club and will feature DJ entertainment, a photo-booth, guest speakers and a special drink: the Gulu Guzzler, from which a portion of the sales will go directly to Gainline, said Black.

She said there will also be an auction for the Fund a Need campaign. This year’s Fund a Need aims to finance a Ugandan student’s University tuition.

Gainline uses rugby as a tool for international development in Uganda, said Brittany Cheeseman, who sits on the board of directors.

“Essentially the idea is rugby is an easy way to bring communities together. It inspires leadership, trust, peace building, all those key elements of sport,” said Cheeseman.

She said the charity focuses on empowering youth. Gainline has no permanent staff in Uganda and Canadian volunteers visit once a year to check in with coaches and organizers.

“It’s very locally based and driven,” said Cheeseman. “We help to provide funds and some overarching functions of the programming. We hire local youth to coach our schools and coach the rugby programs.”

Fundraising professor Ken Wyman said Humber students have worked closely with Gainline before. Students work with one of four Canadian charities to organize a fundraising event. This is Passport to Gulu’s second year.

Cheeseman was a member of the inaugural fundraising team at Humber. She said the event was an overwhelming success last year, raising more than $6,000.

She says she was personally captivated by Gainline’s work in northern Uganda. After her fundraising experience she became an intern with Gainline and spent two months in Uganda.

“I went to practices and games and talked to our students and gathered feedback on the league and what sort of changes they saw in the community,” said Cheeseman.

She said the most significant piece of Gainline’s work is its potential to extend past rugby within communities. An important part of the program is the Star volunteer portion that rewards students for volunteer work in their communities.

Gainline puts on several additional fundraising events each year. These include a summer rugby tournament, a coaching tour to Gulu in June and the Orange Laces program that sells laces to rugby squads across Canada for the league in Uganda, said Cheeseman.

Although the Humber students are responsible for the organization and operation of the event, Wyman said charities are expected to work with the fundraising event team to sell tickets.

Last year Gainline was able provide a university scholarship to a player within the program, who is now a coach. Gainline is expanding to reach more communities and to provide more youth with university access, said Cheeseman.

“I see Gainline Africa growing with that to encourage students in our rugby programs and the community at large to attend postsecondary education, and also growing as an organization and extending our reach to other communities and other post-conflict countries in Africa,” Cheeseman said.

Tickets cost $25 with all proceeds going towards Gainline’s programming in Gulu.