Sport for Good: Next Step 2014

by Paul Walsh


Next Step was an International UN inspired Conference on Using Sport for Good, organised superbly by Magic Bus over 4 days in New Delhi. Myself along with Khelo Rugby Founder Zaffar and Head Community Coach Nanda attended. I learnt so much at Next Step, it really was inspiring to be part of it, the following are just a few of my action points from four memorable days…..

“Nothing about us without us” Anders Krystad, Football For All, Vietnam

There were some inspirational speakers at Next Step, all the break out sessions I attended were valuable and it was just incredible to be surrounded by so many like minded people. Many organisations were far further down the road of #sport4good than us, but it was also good to realise that much of what we have set up and achieved is on the right lines.

The quote above from Anders Krystad made me think and realise that though we work with our children everyday we can do much more to involve them in how Khelo Rugby in particular develops. We’re trying to do this much more with our senior rugby team – make the players the owners, but we also have to do this more with Khelo. It’s too easy as adults to just decide we know what is best for children, to decide how they should grow and develop without involving them in the process is crazy really.

So to start this process we are re-visiting our Child Protection Policy to ensure this isn’t a vacant document that sits in a computer but is a living and breathing part of what we do. Stand-by kids…workshops, involvement, filming all coming your way (if that’s what you want of course)!

“We’re born to play” Dr Viliami Puloka

Dr Puloka was a bit of a star for me, partly because of his incredible variety of Tongan shirts which put my my own shirt collection to shame but more because he was able to deliver some really important messages in very clear, reasoned and fun terms. Just this simple saying, “we’re born to play” carries so much weight especially when I think of many of the children we work with who hardly have the chance in their small and pressured lives. (And if you’d like to see Dr Puloka in action check him out here on You Tube.)

So my lesson from this is that we need to reach more and more children. Share our passion for rugby (and our new passion for netball) improve their lives in every way we can and give them a chance to play. So today Khelo Rugby reaches some 2000 children each week, the target is 10,000 children by the end of the year and (heck why can’t we) 100,000 in 2016. Announced here first!

And so to the Khelo team, let me share my own quote: “We should try to enjoy every moment and and bring a little joy to others. When I forget this, as I often do, please give me a kick.” And to anyone and everyone reading this blog there is an open invitation to come to Calcutta, Saraswatipur, Dumka, Chennai or Fort Abbas and join us in bringing a little joy to more and more children.


“Achieving good is about outcomes – the changes or benefits that result from what a charity or project provides. It means really making a difference. It’s not just about the number of signatures on a petition or lives touched or mentoring sessions delivered, but the effect a service has on people’s lives. And these effects have to be additional to what might have happened otherwise.”

This quote isn’t from Next Step, though it might also have been said there but from the Guardian who are very usefully running a series on ‘Impact’ as part of their Voluntary Network. Clearly this is important business and we need to do more as we grow. Anecdotally we know the impact that we have, through both Khelo and perhaps more so as it has been going longer the Jungle Crows but now we need to take this more seriously. We are currently reviewing the benchmark standards within the communities we work with and we will be setting up systems to measure changes and better track our impact. This isn’t ‘sexy’ work but we know it has to be done!

“Sport must be of quality” Bjorn Evju, Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee

Mr Evju spoke at the closing session of Next Step (watch from about minute 11 here) and I felt made some telling observations particularly around how sport needs to be in the lead, even when we are doing Sport for Social Development. Good sport is what motivates the children and sport and rugby in particular is what led us to Khelo Rugby and Netball. At the Jungle Crows Foundation we are very much led by the sport and this is our passion and as Sport for Good grows as a social sector Mr Evju argued we must keep the sport in our minds and keep a high quality to the sport we do.

I suppose if I was to make one critical comment on Next Step it would be that there was very little talk about sport and I’d agree with Mr Evju that sport must always be at the heart of our work. And that is what we need to do with Khelo, make it a really good sports project with good quality social development that makes a real impact and is fun.

So with all this said I better get back to making it happen!


Cheers, Paul


Me, Zaffar and Nanda at Next Step 2014