04 Jan 2018

A Chance to Play and be a Kid!

Rambunctious laughter and great spirit filled a large field in Lebak Bulus, South Jakarta, one rainy afternoon in December. Despite the pouring rain, children played soccer with abandon as a couple of volunteer coaches hollered instructions.

The routine soccer practice is a bright spot in these disadvantaged children’s lives as they rarely get the chance to be kids. The Kamu Bisa initiative, funded by the Alumni Grant Scheme, aims to make sure that these children have the opportunity to play.

The idea came about in 2008, when a group of friends got together wanting to give back to the community. The group organised one-off events and outings for the children, with each of the volunteers chipping in to cover the costs.

“At first these activities were more varied. In addition to the occasional sports practice, we took the children out on movie trips, and on educational trips to museums and the zoo,” said Ardi Putra Baramuli, an alumnus of The University of Sydney and founder of Bersama Indonesia Satu (BISA).

The group of friends, however, dreamed of a more sustainable activity, one that would provide the greatest impact for the children, and soccer was the clear choice. “There was a lot of interest among the kids, and the growth in so many areas of their lives is evident,” Ardi said.

Not only does soccer practice provide health benefits, it also helps the children build character, discipline, and perseverance. “They learn to be on time. They learn what sportsmanship is, they learn how to work together as a team and how to be honest,” Ardi explained. The children were even taught to tone down their language, having uttered quite a few curses in the beginning of the program.

Another coach, Yahya, added, “We also taught them not to tolerate bullying. Kids being kids, they’d often point and laugh instead of offering help whenever one of their friends took a tumble. The children are much better at giving assistance when it happens now”.

Another key area the children develop is their social skills. The participants of Kamu Bisa are a diverse group, coming from the Indonesian Street Children Organization (ISCO), Sahabat Anak (Friends of Children), Kampus Diakonia Modern (the Modern Diaconia Campus), and Rumah Yatim (the Orphanage Home). Street children, orphans, and child victims of domestic violence from across a wide range of ethnicities are able to befriend each other in a safe environment. “I can laugh and joke around with my friends and meet new ones,” said one child, sharing the sentiment of many of the other participants.

Children from the more affluent Tik Tak Football First soccer school - whose coaches partner with the initiative to train the Kamu Bisa participants - also often drop by for joint practice sessions. It is touching to see how these children and the Kamu Bisa participants treat each other as equals regardless of their backgrounds. “It’s a blast!” chimed the kids in unison.

The children aren’t the only ones who appreciate the chance to play with a diverse group. Parents from the soccer school also appreciate the chance their kids have to interact with a diverse socio-economic background, donating soccer equipment to ensure the disadvantaged children can continue to play. A few people have also offered to sponsor some of the bright talents of Kamu Bisa to enrol at the soccer school.

Kamu Bisa strives to be inclusive, encouraging girls and children with disabilities to join. Working with Yayasan Penyandang Anak Cacat (the Children with Disability Foundation), Kamu Bisa is ensuring that children with disabilities are aware of the soccer practice opportunity. Kamu Bisa is also collaborating with Disability Sports Australia, which will provide disability awareness training and give the volunteer coaches pointers on the practical side of coaching children with disabilities.

Currently there are over 200 children participating in Kamu Bisa, including around 20 girls. In a recent tournament held at the Jakarta Intercultural School, four U-13 girls teams participated out of a total of 19 teams fielded.

If you’re an Australian alumnus who wants to make an impact, applications for the next Alumni Grant Scheme are open until 20 January 2018 at: http://www.australiaawardsindonesia.org/content/169/15/alumni-grant-scheme?sub=true

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