Machen student teaches rugby to Peru's high-security prisoners

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Media captionTeaching rugby to high-security prisoners

A student has spent her university break coaching rugby in Peru to women in a high-security prison.

Jo Penrose, 20, from Machen near Caerphilly, has been teaching rugby to children in and around the rural city of Cajamarca over the last two summers.

After a visit to the prison on the outskirts of the city last year, she decided to set up weekly coaching sessions when she returned in June.

She said it was one of the "craziest places" she had been coaching.

Image copyright Jo Penrose
Image caption Jo Penrose hopes the prisoners will carry on playing rugby after she leaves

The Welsh Rugby Union donated kit and balls for Ms Penrose to take out with her to Peru.

"I had a dream of playing rugby with them but I never thought it would actually happen," Ms Penrose said.

"At first I was a bit nervous, because there was one or two security guards there, and that was it, there was about 80 women.

"But it was great. As soon as I met the women, they were really lovely, they were really kind to me.

"They were really encouraging when my Spanish wasn't on point."

Image copyright Jo Penrose
Image caption Ms Penrose said there were about 80 women at the prison

She said some of the women sat around watching but were "really, really respectful" and "just wanted to learn".

"I went to the prison for my final rugby session with the women and we held a tournament and they all played very well.

"We gave out fruit, soap and toiletries to those who played in the tournament."

She said she was "massively impressed" by how their technique had improved over the two months.

The 20-year-old said she hopes the women will carry on playing when she leaves the country later this week.

Image copyright Jo Penrose
Image caption Jo Penrose also spent time teaching rugby to children

"They've also got a rugby ball with them, so I just hope they will be able to just chuck that around again and play with that.

"I would love to get involved again and try to make things more sustainable, so that it can continue properly once I leave."

Ms Penrose said the women found playing the sport helpful for them to de-stress: "Quite often they are not let out of their cells unless someone does something with them."

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