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After nearly seventy hours of capacity building training, the 6th batch of the ENGAGE Sport Coaches are ready to start their ten eleven month service in partnership with peers living with disabilities, promoting not only adaptive sports but also social inclusion and self-empowerment.

For the first time ever, the program will also include football for deaf and hard of hearing in addition to the more consolidated blind cricket and wheelchair basketball tracks.

Expanding to a new discipline is significant as more youth living with a diverse type of disabilities will be reached out and engaged in laying the foundations for a more inclusive society.

What is happening in different corners of Kathmandu is part of a global movement through which sports for development is increasingly gaining prominence and visibility.

All over the world, there are so many international policy events focused on promoting and sharing best practices from the grounds thanks to a rock solid commitment of thousands of volunteers, the real heroes of sports for development.

In the case of the ENGAGE Sport Coaches, we are talking of twenty local youth aged 17 to 23 embracing a love for sports, all committed to play a small but significant role in trying to make the society more inclusive and disable friendly through reciprocal learning embedded with positive values, personal leadership and accountability.

The theory of change behind the program is that local able bodied youth can help turning local communities more inclusive by first acknowledging and then removing the stumbling blocks that are constraining their peers living with disabilities from expressing and living their full potential.

Youth with a passion for sports who never volunteered before and never experience disability can develop a new understanding of the social dynamics behind exclusionary practices and behaviors by building effective partnerships with peers with disabilities while elevating the level of their sports.

The latter point, the focus on quality of the game, is also very important as all ENGAGE Sport Coaches must express their best skills and qualities as sport coaches, learning by doing.

We are trying to strike a balance between the two key drivers of the programs: the focus on social inclusion on one side and competitive playing on the others.

It is not easy to balance the two dimensions while measuring their double impact, a challenge probably faced by many similar programs around the world.

Yet when you see a diverse group of local youths interacting among themselves for the first time and working together in partnerships, all the doubts on the effectiveness of such programs go instantly away.

Certainly providing a strong structure and the right tools is essential to make the program successful.

This is the reason why this year we have redoubled our efforts in making the capacity building component stronger not only on the sport side but also on the personal development and leadership aspects, with a stronger emphasis on the principles, rules and standards to be used with the teams.

It will be preposterous to expect the ENGAGE Sport Coaches to act as mentors but the idea is for them not only to coach and have fun but also to help players and themselves grow as persons.

Positive youth development can happen in multiple settings, including a basketball court, a cricket ground or football field.

This is one of the reasons why the program this year adopted and adjusted to the local context, the European Sport Coaching Framework that provides the indispensible foundations through which the ENGAGE Sport Coaches will plan and execute their service experience.

We sincerely hope that the entire program will be an opportunity of self-development for both the ENGAGE Sport Coaches and the players as well.

Galimberti is the Co-Founder of ENGAGE, an NGO partnering with youths living with disabilities. He can be reached at

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Position: Co -Founder of ENGAGE,a new social venture for the promotion of volunteerism and service and Ideator of Sharing4Good

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