This was a difficult quarter for Cambodia and for our sports programme. But as always, we are trying our best, and finding successes where we can. An increase in Covid-19 cases in the country led to the shutdown of many schools in the province, including ours and our state partners, and this has lasted for a good part of the last couple of months. 

Nonetheless, the importance of promoting good habits, such as exercise, remains important and continues to be a major goal of our sports programme, and thus we continued to work hard to fulfil our mandate. Meanwhile, we took advantage of our non-coaching time to institute a multi-faceted coach-training program. 

Sports Coaching - Rural Focus (Helping Hands)

Activity has slowed down at Helping Hands, but that doesn’t mean the kids have to! Though classes have been paused for the time being, a small segment of the students we serve come every day to pick up food for their families and worksheets for their studies. Why only worksheets? How about a workout?!

Our football pitch is big enough that 20 students can run around while keeping a safe distance from each other. (We also require the use of masks when exercising). These small-scale physical education classes are important for continuing the habits we work on instilling in our regular sessions. These opportunities remind the kids (and us) that even though the world may seem to stop moving, it doesn’t mean we have to!

Sports class at Helping Hands
Coach Training - Physical Education for the Educators

With class time for the students cut down significantly, we decided to ramp up class time for the coaches. Our coach training programme has three elements: physical education for coaches, better class planning, and curriculum expansion. 

The physical education that Jared, our Sports Programme Manager, has been working on with the coaches serves three primary purposes: understanding exercise, empathy, and personal fitness. When our days are filled with classes to teach, it can sometimes be difficult to take the time to focus on the goals, execution, and results of one exercise. With this break in the schedule, our coaches now have time to work with Jared to better understand the ins and outs of all of the exercises they have the students do. They also can learn new workout elements which they can include in their future classes. 

By working out with Jared, our teachers also get to better understand the experience of students in their classes. What does it feel like to be tired, but the teacher tells you to keep going? What is it like to have to exercise when you might not feel like it? Similarly, as we try to instil good habits in our students, we want our teachers to have those same habits: “Do as I say, and as I do.” Our team workouts also emphasize our coaches’ personal fitness, in the same way that the coaches work towards the improving our students’ fitness. 

Coach training
Coach Training - Improving Class Plans

Under a pile of attendance sheets, with breaks of only a few minutes between classes, it’s often difficult for our coaches to take a step back and analyse all aspects of their class plans. Now we have that opportunity. Along with Jared, our coaches have been dissecting different elements of their lesson plans.

We look at the goals of each aspect, examine different parts of their execution, and assess whether the goals were achieved or not. We then brainstorm ways we can improve the implementation of our lesson plans. By the time Helping Hands and our partner schools are back in full swing, our teachers will be armed with a new arsenal of approaches and, more importantly, frameworks to evaluate and improve them. 

Coach Training - Curriculum Expansion

One great aspect of sports is that they challenge our bodies and minds to move, think and “be” in ways that they may not have tried before. Therefore, by adding new activities and sports to a physical education curriculum, we can keep giving our minds and bodies new opportunities to grow and better understand our potential. 

For this reason – and because of the Jared's love for and experience of the sport – we have been using some of our non-teaching time to learn Ultimate Frisbee. It is a sport that is not only very fun and very physically demanding, but also has lessons about equity and peaceful conflict-resolution built-in. 

Our coaches have been working with Jared to learn the rules, skills and ethos of the sport, with the goal of working it into the curriculum when normality returns. It will be a great covid-safe activity to have in our arsenal! 

Coach training
Moving Forward

All of our coaches, teachers, and students (and everybody else in Cambodia and the world) are hoping and praying for our lives to return to some form of normality soon. When it does, our coaches will be ready with new lesson plans, better understanding of their field and a whole new sport to teach. In the meantime, we will continue to improve our abilities in these areas to give the students the best sports programme we can. 

Candice Conrades

Candice Conrades has spent time living and working in both Cambodia and Peru after graduating from her Bachelor's degree from Griffith University, Australia in the top 5% of her degree. She has spent time working closely with community projects and conservation projects in South-East Asia and Latin America and understands the importance of ethical and sustainable projects and the role volunteers play in helping these projects continue their vital work. Since January 2016 she has been part of the Globalteer, a leader in responsible and ethical volunteering.


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