We have had a first-hand experience that sports can empower girls when we supported girls from Sindhupalchowk in 2019 to play volleyball and they won the match. Therefore, we wanted to organize a capacity-building program for girls in sports. In the first part, “Girls in Sport”, we chose 12 girls through application acing at their respective sports to prepare them for the future with skills like public speaking, mindfulness and well-being, social media branding, and outdoor menstrual health. The workshop was conducted from 4-9 October 2020.
Radhika Shakya, a participant of the program shared,
“A few months back, I was approached for an interview. I was given the questions before the interview and I surfed YouTube to watch how others gave an interview. Unfortunately, I forgot everything on the day of the interview. After this session, I feel you should be yourself while giving an interview or during public speaking.
Since the workshop was successful and effective, we wanted to engage the participants and organized a 3-day futsal event for girls and young women who wanted to learn and gain skills to participate in sports. Most of the girls were first-time players and they have been encouraged to continue playing futsal.
Pally Chaudhary, 23 years old, shared,
“I come from a small village in Saptari where girls aren’t motivated to be part of sports or outdoor activities. I was always keen about sports and wanted to be part of an athletic team but for futsal, we need a team and platform so I was happy to see how Hamro Palo opened this platform for all females. This is my first time and the coach really helped us. I was able to build friendly relationships with the participants and we plan to continue playing futsal in the future also.”
In 2020, Pancha Maya Tamang, a 20-year national sports climber, and Hamro Palo’s executive board member led a one-day climbing workshop with six young girls. Pancha is an inspiring young climber and wants to see more female climbers. We also wanted to provide this opportunity to young girls to learn from Pancha and get inspiration from her story. In 2021, Pancha trained 17 girls in a batch of two. Altogether Pancha has trained 23 girls who had their first experience of wall climbing. After completing the training, they are motivated to practice climbing and Pancha Maya is willing to train them further.
In October, our Girls Advisory Board members traveled from their villages to Kathmandu to join 3 days strategic planning workshop. One of the members is a 15-year-old girl from Golche – a remote village, close to the China border in Sindhupalchowk district. She participated in our Her Turn workshops seven months earlier. During the program, the girl was elected to the Girls Support Committee that is formed in each school during the workshop to provide long-term support to the girls we work with. After serving in the Committee for six months, she was selected to join Girls Advisory Board.
During the workshop, we were discussing various strategies and interventions for girls’ leadership. This participant’s interest in sports games as a path to leadership was evident. She said, “I would like to see girls participating in sports, especially volleyball. My friends and I have witnessed how the boys have been playing volleyball in school and how confident and vigorous they look. Girls have never been asked if they would like to play volleyball and hence they were always the audience. School dropouts, elopement, early pregnancy, domestic violence, polygamy, and polyandry are the most prevailing issues in our village, and girls in sports could make a huge difference in tackling these issues.”
In Golche, most of the community members come from Tamang, Dalit, and Bhujel minority groups, and many don’t speak fluent Nepali. There are approximately 170 households, and many people have migrated out of the village. Some own property in the capital city, while others are working abroad. The major occupation is farming, and most of the senior citizens are illiterate.
Her zeal for empowerment through sports was evident, therefore we committed ourselves that we will support her leadership with a condition that she will have to convince other girls and the school administration.
On November 25th, the first day of #16DaysofActivism, with the backdrop of Jugal mountain range, the girls got ready in their jerseys and white shoes. For many girls, this was the first time they have worn anything like this. The girls playing volleyball for the first time in school was significant and historic – it was a big day for everyone.
For a week prior the girls were coached and trained by the school teachers (all men) and boys, and received support from their families. They were divided into four teams and the jerseys were all orange because we were celebrating #16DaysofActivism against Gender-Based Violence, with a theme: “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape”. The girls smashed the game, and the entire school audience, including mothers and grandmothers, were cheering for them. The girls not only played the game, but they also made history.
The girls said, “We feel powerful and confident and want to continue playing volleyball and encourage more girls to participate.” This event sent many messages to the school and village community: that girls like to play sports just like the boys and they play as well as the boys. The opportunity to play sports in school should be equal and we need to make more investment in sports. Given the right opportunity and space, girls can do anything. One of the mothers said, “I had never thought my daughter could play anything like volleyball and I am so proud of her.”
At Hamro Palo we too are so proud of girls for breaking the system of discrimination and taking leadership for themselves.
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