Sports Programme in Cambodia for Rural Schools

Empowering Children & Raising Self Esteems though Sport!

Globalteer’s sports programme in Cambodia has been running in Siem Reap for several years. After a short hiatus the project resumed with fresh ideas and programmes in 2019.

The Globalteer Sports Programme Cambodia

The project uses sports as a way of engaging children in lessons about leadership, team work, fair play and social issues. The programme is divided between general physical educations and learning & practicing different sports.

General physical education focuses on general fitness and well being of the body. As many children do manual work to help their families, the need to know how to look after their bodies is essential. Basically, they learn how to keep the body in good shape through various exercises. The second part of the sports programme includes learning and practicing specific sports such as, football volleyball and basketball, as well as athletics and local games.

To engage children and add more fun, the project also organises sport festival days. These events focus on getting all children involved and participating; focusing on fair play and team work rather than competition.

The programme spreads the joy of sports to more than 2,500 students in the Siem Reap Province. Currently we have four local coaches (two male and two female), that rotate between the schools and NGOs to spread their wealth of knowledge to all the students in the programme.

How does sport empower students?

Sport is more than simple physical exercise, it is a great way to empower students and teach them important values and life skills. Social skills, communication skills, sharing with others, team work, leadership and how to manage a team can all be learnt through sports. These skills can be transferred into everyday life situations. They can help them find ways to face challenges, assert their rights and voice their opinions.Additionally, it pushes them to accomplish tasks and step out of their comfort zone.

Sometimes students are shy about playing in front of people. However, on their coach’s encouragements, students learn to play freely and let go of fear, instead of holding back. They start enjoying themselves without worrying about judgment and without comparing themselves to one another.

In addition, interactions kids have with teammates, coaches, and parents can shape how they feel about themselves. The aim of the programme is to make them feel stronger and confident. As a result, they also learn that being perfect is not what is important. Instead, they should embrace their flaws and accept who they are. From that moment, they start to build a higher self-esteem.

Making New Friends

Sport encourages children to make new friends as they learn to play with others outside of their usual friendship circle. They also have to communicate with each other to discuss issues or what role they want in the game, etc. This encourages leadership and makes kids speak out for their interests, while listening and respecting  the interests of others as well.

Furthermore, empowering students has positive results on students overall learning; Studies show that if a student feels confident, they're more likely to get better grades and behave well. It also teaches them the importance of setting goals and working to achieve them.

The Importance for the Mind

It is important that students learn that sports are not a punishment or burden, but a fun and enjoyable way to keep their body and mind healthy. Indeed, sport is not just about the physical aspects, it plays an important role in a healthy mind as well. It  is also a great way to teach children about the link between a healthy body and healthy mind!

Taking care of the body and keeping in a good shape, generally helps people to feel good about themselves. It also plays a role in helping to reduce stress. And while many may think that children don't have stress, this is not always the case. Particularly in a country where many children have to help the family to put food on the table. During physical activity children tend to forget stress and just live in the present moment. They don't have to think, just have fun and enjoy playing with their friends; to create happy, fun memories.

Sports also teaches important values such as team spirit, patience,  respect, conflict management, tolerance, inclusion and not to discriminate. These values will serve them all their life and help them to become good citizens and respectful adults.

Impact on Children that have to Help in the Fields

In Cambodia parents often require children to help work for the family', particularly in rural areas. This can include a range of activities such as helping to tend crops or helping to take care of cattle and livestock. Not only do children expend a lot of energy doing these tasks, it also puts strains on them that a child's body is not built for. So knowing how to keep their body healthy is particularly important for these children in rural areas.

The physical education aspect of the programme teaches the kids about the human body and how to look after it. They are taught about their muscles and joints and how to identify them and how to keep them healthy through correct stretching, movement and general exercise. In addition, as children get older, their flexibility decreases so the chances of injuries increase. Therefore, the coaches also teach them how to deal with injuries and keep the body in good shape.

Gender Equality in Sports

According to a UN national survey, “92 percent of females and 82 percent of males in Cambodia believe that a woman’s most important role is to take care of house and home”. As a result, girls are often placed in the background regarding their social roles in society. Breaking down gender barriers in Cambodia is quite challenging, but not impossible. Globalteer demonstrates that through the sports programme!

Boys and girls, learn to play together as a team. Everyone is needed and has a place in the game. Coaches teach them that boys and girls can both play sport. And, that they all have their own voice, strength & skills and the ability to stand up for themselves. Sports helps promote gender equality and empowers girls by involving them in sports and showing them they can play sports just as well as the boys. The sports programme successfully plants the seed of gender equality in children in rural villages of Cambodia.

Building Confidence and Self-esteem through Sports

Sometimes playing in front of a crowd makes the kids feel nervous. Additionally, some kids feel like they’re not as good as others or worry about being judged. Therefore, an important part of the programme is to help the children with their self-esteem. Coaches teach the important lesson that everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses, and that they should not compare themselves to one another. They teach them that sometimes you just need more practice and that's okay. That they should not to give up, to try again and again. An important lesson they learn is that they can overcome everything as long as they work hard and don’t give up. And most importantly, to believe in themselves.

Children need to believe in themselves and sport is a great resource to help them find their inner strength.  Step by step, they learn that perseverance is the key. Building confidence and self-esteem is essential part of their lessons! Through sport, kids can enhance their self-esteem as it helps them to develop a positive body-image, and confidence in their abilities as they are able to see themselves develop. Many children discover capacities they never thought they had!

Furthermore, participating in sports helps them the skills to cope with wins and losses. All skills that will benefit them in daily life as well.

Get Involved!

If you love sport, are full of energy and want to share your passion with children, then volunteering at the Globalteer sport programme in Cambodia is probably for you!