The Importance of Play


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While the 2014 FIFA World Cup has been running over the past couple of weeks, most of the world has had soccer on the brain. Soccer is a universal language. It’s something that unites us all—and kids are no exception. But there is something bigger than soccer that unites children—poverty.

Releasing children from poverty is about more than just providing them with the staples like food, medical attention and education. Many don’t realise the difference being able to play sport can have on children.

See how a Compassion project in Bangladesh has been incorporating sport into their child development model.


There’s more to child development than meets the eye. It includes so much more than food, medical attention and education. In Bangladesh, especially in remote areas and small cities, the holistic development of a child is difficult due to the high poverty rate and limited facilities.

Alongside a balanced diet, children need to opportunities to participate in physical activities such as sports and outdoor games to aid their physical development.


From the very beginning, Compassion centres in Bangladesh have included sports and games as an important part of their program. Children everywhere love sports and the inclusion of physical activity provides an opportunity to interact and form strong friendships—and above all, have fun! One particular centre, the Birisiri Child Development Centre, has an entire program dedicated to sports.

“Sports play a vital role in children’s physical and mental growth. Children can learn teamwork and leadership through team games like football [soccer] and handball,” says Andrew, the games teacher. “At the same time they understand the value of team spirit. I think for complete child development we can’t ignore sports.”


Fun and recreation aren’t the only reasons why this centre organises sports regularly. In Bangladesh, there are places where girls are not allowed to participate in outdoor games. This discrimination holds back the girl children. Compassion treats every child equally, regardless of their gender. The centre’s sporting programs allow the girls to participate, which has increased their confidence.

“At home our girls don’t get a chance to participate in sports. But we always inspire the girl children to participate in sports. We always give our best to make them feel that they have equal rights like the boy children,” says Mark, the centre director.

Children are participating with joy and they learn unity, leadership and teamwork. These activities are influencing the physical and mental development of the children. Compassion is using sports as an effective tool to release the children from physical poverty.

It’s about more than just kicking a soccer ball.

Story by David Adhikary and Monique Wallace
Photos by David Adhikary

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