I didn’t know what I was getting myself into when I first walked into the SportInspired office. Interning in a foreign country with a bunch of strangers is both exciting and nerve-wracking. Now that my time here is up I can honestly say it was the best experience of my life.
My new co-workers welcomed me with kind smiles and friendly words on that first day. They gave me my first tasks that included assisting the Games Managers with bookings, research, and data. I was doing a variety of jobs that kept every day fresh. I never had a job that offered so much positive energy, variety and excitement every single day.
I fed off of that energy in the office and took on more assignments. Soon I was designing, blogging, and coding for the SportInspired website. I felt like the utility man. Helping anyone I could. If something needed to be done I’d do it. I just really enjoyed the responsibility and challenge of doing something new that I had little knowledge of.
Soon it was time for my first games. That’s when I really understood what SportInspired was doing and what I was doing here with them. When I was writing what you’re reading now I made the realization that I will not do the games justice by merely describing it on a blog. This is something that needs to be seen and lived to truly get a sense of the miraculous acts being performed and the lives of students forever changed.
What did I see? I witnessed professional athletes, instructors, volunteers, and young leaders working together to inspire primary school students to play and try a new sport. The day would start with nervous primary school students arriving, not knowing what to expect, kind of like I did when I showed up to the office for the first time. SportInspired then does what it does best. Inspire.
Volunteers and young leaders create a tunnel while cheering on and clapping for the primary school students as they excitedly run through. From then on it’s all hands on deck. Teams are moving from station to station, chanting and shouting. The support and bond between the leaders and primary school students becomes stronger and stronger. Students who didn’t like sport were now giving every bit of effort to try something new with a big smile on their face.
Some students require a little more encouragement than others. Volunteers, young leaders, and professional athletes take these students aside and build them up. They would perform the sport together or bring four other teams in to wildly cheer on the student. It wasn’t about how they performed the sport; it was about them trying the sport with support coming from every direction.
Three seconds of absolute courage can make a huge difference in someone’s life. There are literally countless stories that can back that up. Students who were once considered “outcasts,” showing no activity in the classroom now developed confidence to join a sport club, participate actively in school, and are now making friends.
Social skills can be seen developing all around. My most memorable examples of this come from the disability games I participated in. The first time I went I was met by these wonderful students who were hesitant towards me and the sport sessions. After absolute enthusiasm and encouragement I built these students up and showed them the fun of sport and the fun they can have playing sport with one another.
The next time I returned I saw the same students…well not exactly. They had changed, running up to greet me with a smile and “high-fives.” Then they ran to the skills sessions, eagerly waiting for instruction. Some couldn’t take it longer and figured out what they had to do. Confidently running, tossing, jumping, and anything else they had to do in the session. The students did all this along with supporting one another by cheering, clapping, and hugging their fellow team-mates. They were given power they never had before which are a combination opportunity, confidence, and tremendous support from their classmates. Victory laps could be seen, more “high-fives,” and smiles all around. It’s a remarkable sight and event I will never forget as long as I live.
SportInspired inspires primary school students and they inspire their interns. I will continue what I learned here and inspire my community when I head back to the United States. This fantastic opportunity has taught me so much about people, life, and myself. I am forever grateful for their time and teachings. It’s an amazing place to intern at because SportInpired works to make young people even better and more confident than they thought they ever could be. With the world the way it is we need festivals like the ones I attended along with the positive role models and true heroes that make up SportInspired. I encourage anyone with passion and enthusiasm to make this world and its people in it better by checking out SportInspired. Believe me, you won’t regret it.
Thank You SportInspired! You are great!
Forrest Payne, Former SportInspired Intern