We recently had our inter classes sports competition and I saw a beauty that we rarely see! From my office seat, I have a clear view of the field and I had a chance to watch the games as they went on while still catching up with some office work. What a privilege it was!

In the field two teams were striving to score and win, on one side of the field was the school DJ entertaining the players and the fans with some local music that seemed to give everyone some form of energy despite the scorching sun and this MC who cracked a few ribs with some jokes and the so-called interviews he conducted among his fellow students about the games. At the gym section were the cheer leaders squad who seemed to only care about the music and the scores but could hardly explain what was going on. A few teachers decided to watch the game, others participated in playing with the teams and others like myself caught up in between watching the games and finishing up some office work.

The day’s master of ceremony.

In the field, there is no teacher or student, male or female, literate or illiterate, street-connected or not. We just have players! It is this beauty that caught my attention!

As a rehabilitation center, we have encountered challenges with some youths who have low self-esteem, are aggressive at times, fighting addictions, angry and bitter, having disciplinary issues because of the freedom they were used to on the streets that is no longer there. We have those who have unique challenges when it comes to literacy and numeracy skills and hence the poor performance in class. And most of the times its easy to be blinded by those limitations. But when all these groups meet in the field, all those limitations cease to exist.

I watched as some of students struggling academically but gifted in sports thrive! I watched those with low self-esteem believe in themselves and scored multiple goals! I saw students with disciplinary cases work together with others and for that moment, set aside their arrogance and attitude and allowed themselves to be taught, led and corrected by others without putting up a fight. I saw the teachers working alongside the students towards a common goal. I saw girls taking up the charge to play in a boys team and became part of the team that they could rely on. I saw the school becoming one!

The champs

The beauty of sports!

I couldn’t help myself from being carried by emotions at the sight of this beauty! Sports have become a key tool for our rehabilitation program. We have seen impressive results from our students when they are engaged in sports. It is a stress management tool, it helps them cope with strong emotions, it pushes them to work with others for a common goal, it brings out the best in them when others count on them and believe in them to deliver. And when victory comes, they recognize that they are more than what they had believed themselves to be and certainly more than their limitations.

Whether it is football, dance, volleyball, martial arts, table tennis or physical work out, its all worth investing in it for rehabilitation. We have encouraged these activities to be  engaged in every evening after classes as an outlet for our students and staff as well. Oh, and the sleep after such activities is unexplainable, something that these amazing souls need!

I hope and pray that one day we will have a way of harnessing the incredible gifts in sports for our students. For now, we just have to keep at it and have fun in the process!

Teamwork in action