Oporajeyo Sports for All programme held in Pirarbari, Kotalipara, Gopalganj district, Bangladesh
Sports for Hope and Independence (SHI) wanted to bring the community together to create a safe space for persons with disabilities (PWD), girls and children where they can come and learn different life skills by participating in sport.
Sports for Hope and Independence (SHI) and Empowerment Through Law of the Common People (ELCOP) jointly organised the “Oporajeyo Sports for All” programme in Pirarbari, Kotalipara, Gopalganj from 8-11 January 2019. It was made possible by funding from Chowdhury Shahabuddin Ahmed. This programme provides intensive physical activities and football training to the following groups.
Disability sports: There are an estimated 16 million people with disabilities in Bangladesh, or 10% of the country’s population. PWDs often face societal barriers, and disability evokes negative perceptions and discrimination in many societies, particularly in Bangladesh.
Sports for Hope and Independence (SHI) believe that sports could be one of the main mediums to bring out PWDs from homebound life to outside and at the same time sport will be able to change society’s perception of PWDs. Twenty-two PWDs participated in different physical activities and games.
Girls’ sports: Bangladesh has one of the highest rates of child marriage, with more than half of Bangladeshi girls marrying before adulthood. According to a 2014 report by the Bangladesh Bureau of statistics, 87% of married women experienced mental or physical abuse by their partner. In 2014, the government committed to ending child marriage. At the Girl Summit, Sheikh Hasina, the honourable prime minister of Bangladesh, pledged to end marriage under the age of 15 by 2021 and of 18 by 2041. Girls and women face a disproportionate number of life challenges, which reduce their ability to achieve their full potential.
According to the platform’s website, sports involvement can play a significant role in promoting the physical and mental well-being of girls and women, fostering opportunities for their leadership and achievement, initiating social inclusion and social integration of girls and women. SHI is aiming to create safe meeting space for the girls where they can come and express themselves by participating in sports activities. SHI is also working hard to overcome stereotypes of girls’ participation in sport in communities. Eighteen girls participated in physical activities and the intensive football training programme.
Children sports: Play is rapidly disappearing from schools in Bangladesh. Children do not get enough time to play because of excessive homework pressure. Parents are more focused on educational performance. 65% of primary schools have no playground in the cities and only 2% of private schools have the playground in Dhaka. SHI understand that “sport helps to develop the brain and builds leadership and responsibility of the children”. Thirty five children actively participated in the three day sports programme.
Women in sports: The life of housewives in rural communities can be monotonous, and recreational opportunity is very limited for them. Sports for Hope and Independence (SHI) wanted to give these women the chance to participate in recreational sports activities where they can have fun and smile. Fourteen housewives participated in different games.
[This article has been edited by the Operating Team]