Group Captain Jonathan Derbyshire, with the assistance of Flight Lieutenant Richie Woods, a qualified referee, has introduced tag rugby to the local children from the villages near the airfield.
The sport has been added to the curriculum of a Saturday school held at the base for the children of stallholders who run a bazaar each weekend. See Related News to read more about the school.
Training takes place once formal lessons have been completed. The children have literally thrown themselves into the game and have quickly grasped the essentials under the eagle eyes of their RAF coaches who are both members of Bury St Edmunds Rugby Club.
Group Captain Derbyshire commands the Force Protection Wing at Kandahar, made up of 600 multinational personnel. He said:
I view this type of activity as integral to providing the force protection of Kandahar Airfield in order to enable air operations.
Everything we undertake, from counter-surface to air fire patrols, through to humanitarian assistance, contributes to the comprehensive counter-insurgency we are conducting in the Ground Defence Area.
And if we can bring some fun to people’s lives in the process then all the better.
Number 3 RAF Force Protection Wing Headquarters, based at RAF Marham in Norfolk, is currently deployed on Operation HERRICK with responsibility for providing protection for Kandahar Airfield.
Kandahar Airfield is a key strategic base in the battle against insurgents in Afghanistan.
Counter-insurgency, separating the insurgents from the rest of the Afghan population, is just one of the strategies used by the Force Protection Wing.
Providing security for the local population and building relationships are key elements of that strategy and the Saturday school with its formal lessons and rugby training are helping build those relationships at Kandahar.