An Illuminating Session

Thursday the 20th of November will remain an important date for Kampuchea Balopp, Cambodian sport and the fight to assist the handicapped in the Kingdom.  Kampuchea Balopp organised the first training session for blind or visually impaired children whose education and schooling are supported by Krousar Thmey, an existing NGO partner. This day co-incidentally marked the 25th Anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and Article 31 recognises “the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child and to participate freely in cultural life and the arts“.

In addition to providing access to weekly sports with rugby sessions organised for mentally disabled children from Action Cambodge Handicap) and hearing-impaired children (also supported byKrousar Thmey), Kampuchea Balopp continues its march forward in its quest to promote and respect this fundamental right for children as stated in Article 31 and in particular concerning children with disabilities: their access to play and recreation.

There were many Cambodian spectators around the field to curiously observe twenty young hearing-impaired children train like real pros, then, the eleven blind children showing everyone that despite their disability, they have the right, and now the opportunity to release energy, sweat, and have fun through sport!

For this first session, the objective was for Kampuchea Balopp to assess the level of the psychomotor skills of the children. The session started with relay races in which the children were divided into three teams of four (Khemara, one of Kampuchea Balopp’s coaches was blindfolded and used to complete a team) and the teams had to walk then run as fast as possible, while being guided by a rope while one of the educators guided them in the race. From the moment that Kampuchea Balopp coach Dul Khemrin gave the starting signal, huge smiles appeared on the faces of the kids involved! The coaches felt that the children, so openly displaying their emotions, were enjoying a kind of freedom they had not known before.

Team games followed, this time assessing their ability to communicate and pass a special ball that makes a sound (this was done firstly in pairs, and then in groups of four). The team which managed to complete the most successful passes won the game.  The smiles were permanently etched on the faces of the children, and the joy expressed was highly contagious to everyone – staff, coaches and observers!

The time spent with these visually impaired children went by very quickly, and after it was explained to them that they would have sports training every Thursday afternoon, and would be part of a sports team, they felt very proud. Apart from the excitement brought by playing sport, it is probably pride that will remain as the strongest feeling experienced by the children, and also by the entire Kampuchea Balopp team.

In order to evaluate better the impact of this new activity for those visually impaired kids, we’ve asked some questions to Alix Le Roy, Communication Manager of Krousar Thmey:

What do you think about this initiative between Krousar Thmey and Kampuchea Balopp with visually impaired children?

After the success of this 1st session, we are very happy that we dared to take a chance! The work that we are doing every day on the field and in our headquarters is rewarded by the smiles of those children who are discovering sport and unknown talents ! The weekly session have a real value for the education of the visually impaired kids, it will develop their self confidence, team spirit, their enthusiasm and their sense of dedication.

Before this partnership established with Kampuchea Balopp, did the kids had the opportunity to do some sport exercises where they could develop their psychomotror skills?

Within our hearing and visually impaired school, except for some music classes which develop their agility with traditional instruments, our kids did not practice any sport activities. It is a new experience for them. After the commitment shown by the coaches of Kampuchea Balopp towards our two hearing impaired schools, commitment which was manifested through them learning sign language, we are extremely thankful to see this commitment extended for the visually impaired children of Phnom Penh Thmey.

Those kids have a big capacity to learn, play and sweat and the ball is in your hands! And again, a big thanks to The Kampuchea Balopp Team.

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