Sports, Alright! Washing Hands, Surely!

“Miss, miss.. Tomorrow’s the match, right? You know, I’m in the volleyball match!”, says Linda, a fifth grader of Halim Permai, Bandar Lampung enthusiastically at about 11 a.m. when the school hosted visitors. “Why don’t you take a picture of us! We now are training for tomorrow’s match,” shouts a small group of laughing children whilist playing on the football field of the school. Apparently, while waiting and resting prior to the Religious study class they use the break time to practice playing football.

The event taking place the next day, established in partnership by Mercy Corps’ Sumatra Healthy Schools Program (SHSP) with the Asian Soccer Academy (ASA) is a conclusion to the SHSP & ASA Behavior Change Activity pilot project. The project’s mission includes teaching elementary school students the correct technical skills for playing football (soccer) and volleyball. Additionally, the coaches along with teachers create both washing hands and drinking milk habits after the students participate in sports.

The three schools that were chosen in Lampung and are located next to one another include: SDN2, SD MIN and SDN1 Way Halim Permai. The pilot project took three months to finish and the football tournament among three schools is the concluding event. This project has also been established in both West Sumatra and Yogyakarta, Central Java.

The next day activities in the event are kicked off by a speech of Mr. Sudarno, Bandar Lampung city’s secretary and Lee Hawkins as a joint representative of Mercy Corps and Asian Soccer Academy. They then symbolically conclude the Behavior Change Activities by launching the opening of the Soccer tournament and Volleyball among these schools.

The hot weather does not seem to bother the students participating in the tournament. Those chosen to compete show off their skills in playing volleyball and football to make their school win the championship. Others who do not participate in the matches are excited to cheer on for their team. Additionally they can also participate in other games such as kicking the ball with a bottle, relay and quizzes about healthy behaviors. Those winning a penalty kick match with ASA’s Technical Director, Lee Hawkins – who acts as the goal keeper – will receive a new football and t-shirt.

“I’m excited to see the children so enthusiastic in participating in this tournament. They’re all a sport and there is no fight. We can clearly see here that they have increased their ability and skills to play football and volleyball,” Lee Hawkins says. He hopes that the activity will continue where students can have fun but learn and remember to wash their hands before and after playing.

“We are grateful to all the involved parties especially and excited that this activity increases the friendship formed among all three schools,” says Upik Dahlenawati, a headmistress of one of the participating schools.

“We hope to improve the health by conducting sport events such as football and volleyball. Along with Mercy Corps we have educated our students to make a habit to wash hands to prevent worms and live healthy,” says M. Yusuf the sports teacher of MIN Way Halim.

Written by Wulan Dewi for Sumatra Healthy Schools Program, Mercy Corps Indonesia

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