- Childreach is an NGO aimed at youth development in Nepal
- Football is their key tool to help transform youngsters’ lives
- With the help of the FIFA Foundation, the project has reached out to over 4,000 children
In many rural places, children's chances of playing football are limited due to the lack of infrastructure and facilities. While this remains a problem in many places across the globe, things in Nepal have been improving in recent years thanks to the efforts of Childreach, an NGO focused on youth development in the landlocked country.
Founded in 2010, Childreach has been reaching out to children based in rural areas through their Sports Initiative project. Football is, of course, a key tool in helping them implement their development programmes.
"Football is definitely among the most popular sports in Nepal," Urgen Lama, acting director of Childreach, told FIFA.com. "It encourages the children to understand the value of education and helps them to stay in school at the same time, making them aware about their rights and helping them claim their rights."
He has been proven right. Over the years, the Sports Initiative has been carried out in 12 schools across five districts in Nepal, helping transform the youth through tailored games. Both boys and girls teams have been established in these schools, with about 390 players competing in Sports Initiative's annual football tournaments and festivals. Up to now, the project has reached out to approximately 4,080 children courtesy of the fine work by their 40-person coaching staff.
Dignitaries from all walks of life have helped support the initiative, with former Nepal captain Anil Gurung becoming a Childreach ambassador in 2014.
One of many notable stories from the Sports Initiative is that of Pema Tashi, who hails from a remote village in Sindupalchok. After participating in some football games put on by Sports Initiative, he made fast progress and showed leadership qualities that saw him welcomed into the coaching team. He continued to develop and took part in a coaching course at the Michael Johnson Performance Center in Texas, USA, before returning home to coach a girls team.
"The Sports Initiative project has been highly successful," said Lama. "We use football to create social impact, to address key child rights issues, including helping to give them access to safe spaces. Supported by the FIFA Foundation, we are currently in the process of developing a social studies football curriculum for grade 9 and 10 students. This is an innovative play-based pedagogical approach to educate children on social studies lessons. In the future, we would like to expand the project and to promote the project into more schools."