Considering that Isha has always placed importance on sports as a way to rejuvenate the spirit, it was no surprise that Project GreenHands won the “Sport for the Environment” award in 2010 from Beyond Sports for its method of “using sports as an entry point to unite, uplift and inspire impoverished rural communities in Tamil Nadu, India.”

The award included some interesting benefits and Isha Yoga Center was happy to welcome a group of trainers from the US-based organization Coaches across Continents (CAC) for a week-long training (19-25 November) in “Sport for Development”. The coaches, Brian Suskiewicz, Jaren LaGreca and Gina Wideroff, came to partner with PGH to provide a coaching education course and trained 51 teachers from PGH, Isha Vidhya, the Government School Adoption program, Action for Rural Rejuvenation and Local Community Welfare programs. The training was given in 18 different games.

CAC has worked across the world in 16 countries across 50 communities. They use sport, specifically football, to teach social messages. Their interaction at IYC included messages on female empowerment, nutrition, conflict resolution, games for environment and leadership.

The coaches said that their mission was to see that “after completing this coaching course, these teachers will go out to their various schools and outreach programs and work with the children in Tamil Nadu.”

In a fair exchange, the coaches tried out yoga for the first time. “We are not very flexible but we are getting better,” they said, “It’s a great experience. Our teacher has been very patient and understanding with us.”

Marie Rischmann, PGH volunteer shares:

Through the week, the participants learned many games and by the end of the week they had learned how to teach them to others. On the first day, so many of the participants hesitated to speak during the sessions, or to get into the grounds and start playing. But gradually, their interest and enthusiasm grew. On the last day, we had a match where a 50-year-old teacher – who had hesitated to play the whole week because he had recently had a heart surgery – became a goal keeper and played really well!