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The champions of sports for development and social inclusion

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The champions of sports for development and social inclusion

Positive youth development can happen in multiple settings, including a basketball court, a cricket ground or football field.

After nearly seventy hours of capacity building training, the 6th batch of the ENGAGE Sport Coaches are ready to start their 10- 11 month service in partnership with peers living with disabilities, promoting not only adaptive sports but also social inclusion and self-empowerment.

For the first time ever, the programme will also include football for deaf and hard of hearing in addition to the more consolidated blind cricket and wheelchair basketball tracks.

Expanding to a new discipline is significant as more youth living with a diverse type of disabilities will be reached and engaged in laying the foundations for a more inclusive society.

What is happening in different corners of Kathmandu is part of a global movement through which sports for development is increasingly gaining prominence and visibility, thanks to a rock solid commitment of thousands of volunteers, the real heroes of sports for development.

In the case of the ENGAGE Sport Coaches, we are talking of twenty local youth aged 17 to 23 embracing a love for sports, all committed to play a small but significant role in trying to make the society more inclusive through reciprocal learning embedded with positive values, personal leadership and accountability.

Youth with a passion for sports who never volunteered before and never experience disability can develop a new understanding of the social dynamics behind exclusionary practices and behaviours by building effective partnerships with peers with disabilities while elevating the level of their sports.

The latter point, the focus on quality of the game, is also very important as all ENGAGE sport coaches must express their best skills and qualities as sport coaches, learning by doing.

We are trying to strike a balance between the two key drivers of the programmes: the focus on social inclusion on one side and competitive playing on the others. It is not easy to balance the two dimensions while measuring their double impact, a challenge probably faced by many similar programmes around the world. Certainly providing a strong structure and the right tools is essential to make the programme successful.

This is the reason why this year we have redoubled our efforts in making the capacity building component stronger not only on the sport side but also on the personal development and leadership aspects.

It will be preposterous to expect the ENGAGE Sport Coaches to act as mentors but the idea is for them not only to coach and have fun but also to help players and themselves grow as persons.

Positive youth development can happen in multiple settings, including a basketball court, a cricket ground or football field.

This is one of the reasons why the programme this year adopted and adjusted to the local context, the European Sport Coaching Framework that provides the indispensable foundations through which the ENGAGE Sport Coaches will plan and execute their service experience.

We sincerely hope that the entire programmme will be an opportunity of self-development for both the ENGAGE Sport Coaches and the players as well.

Galimberti is the Co-Founder of ENGAGE, an NGO partnering with youths living with disabilities. He can be reached at simone_engage@yahoo.com

[This article has been edited by the Operating Team.]

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Thursday, March 14, 2019 - 09:51

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