To celebrate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, the team behind our Sports Initiative in Nepal organised a special football festival for the children, teachers and community members of Thangpalkot in Sindhupalchowk.
Just over a month ago, teachers and community members from Thangpalkot, Thangpaldhap and Banskharka had the idea of a festival. The concept was to bring together all three communities in a celebration of child rights. All members agreed that World Day Against Trafficking in Persons was the perfect day to choose, as it was an opportunity to raise awareness about child trafficking in Nepal and about safe migration – a key component of our Taught, Not Trafficked campaign.
Four schools were chosen from the communities, all of which have had new classrooms built and completed by Childreach Nepal following the destruction of their previous classrooms in the earthquakes of 2015.
The Childreach Nepal team left for the village three days before the event. Due to a very heavy rainfall and several landslides, they had to abandon their vehicles and walk for seven hours to reach the village of Manekharka. Once you reach the village, the schools are once again busy having just opened again after their monsoon break (the time for sowing rice and paddy).
There was a lot of buzz in the community about the festivals. Our team heard people speaking about it in the local tea shops. The children were also getting up early each morning to train and practice.
There were concerns about the weather, as the forecast was heavy rain and thunderstorms, and the day did start dark and gloomy with a light drizzle. The students from the My School, My Voice programme prepared a speech on the importance of human trafficking awareness, and how communities can come together to combat trafficking. Local leaders and members of the police force were also in attendance to hear this message. The students demonstrated some of the ‘sport for development’ games we use as part of our Sports Initiative with Coaches Across Continents. At this point, the rain stopped. Members of the community were able to join our team to watch the football matches.
With three categories (students, teachers and parents), the games were played with adapted rules. Each team consisted of 12 players, with 7 playing at any one time. Of these 7, there had to be 3 females on the field. If the female scored the points we doubled. Childreach Nepal implemented this to promote gender equality in the community and to demonstrate that if girls are given the same opportunities they are capable of achieving anything.
Over 500 spectators joined the event, laughing and cheering for their favourite teams – especially whilst watching the parents and teachers play one another. Childreach Nepal also played a special friendly against another local NGO called ARSOW Nepal. (Side note, our team won 4-0.)
The festival was a huge success. The villagers were very grateful to Childreach Nepal for bringing the three communities together, especially as a successful conflict resolution following past altercations in the communities over the years. Everyone came together for a positive message with a powerful impact. Sport is a wonderful medium to break barriers and challenge harmful practices.