The Ripple Effect Series - Part 3, The Family Community
The Ripple Effect explores how the ‘joy of sports’ has rippled out from the 180 000 girl participants in India to positively influencing the whole community around them. This is the “Sports for Life” program implemented by the Naandi Foundation in India. In Part 1 of the series we explored how the 4000ᐩ women community associates (CA) leading the girls’ learning have been positively influenced by the sports programs. The CAs support these girls in their daily education and are now involved in their sports development. The girls' sports development includes a weekly curriculum, a series of Athletics events, and a Football Hub. The CAs are also the coaches, officials, and referees for our programs; learning and being educated in the language of sports for the first time.
In Part 2, we will looked at the “ripple effect” through a psychological lens as GNW Clinical Psychologist Director, Daniela Tomer dove into the minds and hearts of the community around these girls and explored the uniqueness of the “bottom up” model implemented by Naandi Foundation in India.
Part 3 of this series below, explores how the Naandi sports program has rippled out to affect the family of these underprivileged girls; adding another element to the family community. This effect has grown with the inception of the sports program in 2018 and continues to positively affect this community even in lock down.
The Family Community
In January 2020, we held a series of football clinics in the state of Gujarat for over 120 girls. For four days, we travelled to three different villages and organised football practice for the novice girls aged 6 - 14 years old. Many of these villages are very poor and the families of these girls work tirelessly everyday to ensure that the family has enough food to fill the stomachs of the family. The fathers work outside the home earning for the family while the mother works non-stop in the home preparing daily needs; every moment of the day is focused around ensuring the necessities to live. But, when we held our practices, we had some mother’s coming out and spending hours watching their daughter’s play football. It is very important to understand that these women have little to no leisure time. To take hours out of the day to watch their daughters play sports is a big sacrifice for the whole family. Even following the disapproval of her husband, one mother who had 3 girls participating in the football clinic, took the time to go watch her girls. She explained that she believed sports for girls was indeed important, giving strength and confidence and she felt it important to support them.
The family members, even when they are not actively participating, are being changed by the program. Sports has afforded them the opportunity to support their values of female strength by fighting for the girls' right to be there and encourage them with their presence. These mothers that sacrifice their time are part of the change, they dare to challenge their own routine in order to support the girls. They are being empowered by empowering the girls.
Also, in early 2020 we held a national level athletics event wherein over 100 girls travelled thousands of miles from their family and community to come to Hyderabad, India. For the great majority of girls, this was the first time they left their communities, many travelling more than 48 hours by train. Following the event and upon returning to their families afterwards, a number of village celebrations were organised and the girls and families were recognised through music, food and beautiful floral garlands, awarded to both girls and their mothers! An event that took place in another world from their villages scattered throughout the country, rippled out to affect the family community back home.
This family support has also been evident during the pandemic period. Determined to help the girls lead healthy lives during this trying period, we began offering online personal sports in isolation. We include a series of videos that we communicate to the community via whatsapp every week. Once again, our objective was focused: enable these girls to be active during covid. But, we have discovered that this action of sharing sports tips to the girls, has once again rippled out to affect the lives of the family members. We are constantly receiving videos from proud parents excited to share the sports learning and development of their daughters. In some of the videos, we see siblings joining in on the sports fun with their sister. Thus, sports adds another element to the family community of these girls.
This concludes our series on the Joy of Sports - The Ripple Effect, sharing stories of how the sports program for underprivileged girls in India has “rippled out” to affect the community around them including their teachers and their families. The Naandi Foundation sports program is already impacting 150 000 girls directly. If we look at the larger impact of this ripple effect, we would need to add thousands of women community associates and hundreds of thousands of parents and siblings of these girls. The total impact is staggering; creating a sports revolution for girls in India. This incredible impact and the ripple effect of this girls sports program envelopes us as well and inspires us to keep believing in the power of sports to connect people even in these uncertain times.