Learning through sport: Adopting sport-based methodologies to combat gender issues
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In July, Pro Sport Development, in partnership with Girls Not Brides, conducted its second residential workshop for grassroots workers in Ranchi, Jharkhand.

Pro Sport Development (PSD), in collaboration with Girls Not Brides: The Global Partnership to End Child Marriage (GNB), conducted their second residential workshop in Ranchi, Jharkhand, India from 22 July to 24 July. Prior to this, PSD conducted the first workshop earlier in February 2022, which took place in Jaipur, Rajasthan, India. Khel Ek Seekh (Learning through sport), a three-day residential workshop, focuses on using sport as a tool to initiate dialogues on gender. The workshop was conducted with youth workers from remote areas of Jharkhand, and their active participation with much enthusiasm made the workshop a success.

This time, a total of 21 participants joined us from all over Jharkhand, 13 of which were women. They came from 19 different organisations working at the grassroots level.

Day 1: Breaking the ice

The workshop started with some icebreaker activities, as participants familiarised themselves with each other. A panel discussion was also held with representatives from three organisations - Jan Lok Kalyan Parishad, Association for Social and Human Awareness (ASHA) and Mahila Mukti Sanstha. The discussion helped participants become familiar with diverse experiences of local organisations in using sport-based interventions to address a variety of issues like child marriage, human trafficking, gender-based violence and low education rates among girls.

By the end of the first day, the participants gained better clarity on the workshop objectives, safeguarding policies and reporting procedures. They also developed a conceptual understanding of consent with the help of an interactive session facilitated by the PSD team.

Day 2: Gathering knowledge 

The second day of the workshop began with revisiting the learnings of the previous day through a reflection exercise and a quick quiz. The focus of the day was to build communication skills appropriate for a facilitator. Participants engaged in a self-assessment activity and identified  their strengths and weaknesses. Participants were also able to de-construct gender-roles and stereotypes through discussion-based exercises, which resulted in an enriching discussion on the prevalence of discriminatory gender roles and stereotypes in the local communities of Jharkhand. 

By the end of the second day, all of the participants developed a conceptual understanding on the three different techniques of communication used in sport coaching – visual demonstration, drawing/writing and verbal explanation.

One of the female participants in the workshop told us about their experience as a facilitator: “As a facilitator, I try and keep my communication with children as clear and positive as possible. But that is not always possible as the children we work with come from different cultural and societal backgrounds, which sometimes makes it difficult for them to understand.”

Day 3: Presenting learnings 

On the final day of the workshop, participants were asked to sketch out a plan of work for their respective communities, using the learnings from the first two days of the workshop. The participants curated brief plans, which incorporated sport-based methodologies and identified program objectives, target audience, plan of integration, potential challenges and mitigation strategies. 

Most of these plans were centred around the themes of child marriage, child trafficking and child labour, as these are some of the prevalent concerns in Jharkhand. In the process, participants also identified the challenges that they have encountered on the ground. Some of the challenges included lack of support from stakeholders, lack of space to conduct sport activities and societal objections. The facilitation team provided detailed constructive feedback to all participants. 

All the participants demonstrated creativity and innovation in their structuring of the plans. Isha Saxena, a Research Associate at PSD, observed that “most of the participants were experienced in working at grassroots, they knew exactly how to effectively integrate sports in their communities. In fact, some of them have faced challenges in using sports in their communities, so the solutions offered by them were clear and strategic, which should ensure success in delivering sport sessions in their communities.”

At the end of the workshop, participants were confident enough to use sport-based methodologies and become sport-based facilitators in their communities. They were trained to use sport as a medium to address gender-based challenges in their respective communities. 

In order to enhance the learning process, sessions were kept fun and interactive, focusing on multiple themes including facilitation skills, gender equality and soft-skill development. 

Participants shared their learnings and were excited about being a part of this three-day journey and how much they look forward to employing learning through sport in their own work. The last of the residential workshops will be conducted later this year in Uttar Pradesh.