What makes the Sports Program so important for EYC and what life lessons are the kids learning through sports?
“I love our sports program and dream of seeing it grow because sports are essential for physical and mental wellbeing. Not so long ago, when Cambodia was recovering from the war and people were still in survival mode, sports were not common amongst Cambodians as participation was considered a luxury. However, over the last five to six years, Cambodians have begun to realize the benefits of physical activity and sports for improved health…and physique!
Although many parents of EYC students continue to believe that their children should focus on activities that generate an income, some are beginning to understand that their children can also advance their lives through sports, not only generating a good income but also improving their health and self-confidence.
For me, playing sports is a tool through which children and youth can uncover their potential, see how far they can push themselves, and explore their limits. Sports help kids learn more about themselves, and once they have a better sense of themselves, they are more likely to make “better choices.” Another great aspect is the ripple effect: students who get involved in sports and physical activity become role models for other students. Additionally, team sports provide the chance to practice cooperation, learn how to respect others and work together to achieve a common goal. Finally, some of our students come from very difficult family situations and being part of a sports team provides an opportunity to get away, feel joy, and find a sense of personal accomplishment.
Currently, we have a core group of teenage girls from Lakeside and Youth school who have persevered in their Jiu-Jitsu practice and are showing themselves to be very talented. One of them, who is only 13 years old, has been nominated to receive individual training in order to to participate in the next Southeast Asian Games. We are thrilled to see this new EYC sports champion emerging 🙂
Yoga is also gaining popularity amongst our students who feel the benefit of the practice on their overall wellbeing. My next goal will be to introduce mindfulness in our classrooms as a simple step towards a more personal practice, and perhaps, meditation.
For me, it does not matter which sport a student chooses as one kid may thrive in team sports while another might be more inclined to individual sports. The important thing is to let them pick the activity they want to try and then provide them with the opportunities to practice and develop to the level they want.
It is rewarding and inspiring to watch as a student finds and develops their passion in ways they might not have imagined. I have seen some of the EYC bike team members discover a passion for competition, and to me, this passion is less about the desire to “beat others” than it is about the willpower and self-confidence they have developed since starting cycling. What I find even more profound are the ways they have brought this confidence and determination to other aspects of their lives.