BTOP Sports Academy – Empowering Marginalised Youth Through Sports

Incitement is the implementing agency for the Volunteering International Professionals (VIP) Fellowship Programme 2017, a National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) project monitored and overseen by the National Strategy Unit (NSU) of the Malaysian Ministry of Finance. More information about this collaboration between Incitement and the Malaysian Ministry of Finance can be found here.

The VIP Fellowship programme took place from August 19th till December 17th 2017. During these 4 months, a total of 10 social impact projects were implemented with the help of 50 international professional volunteers, touching the lives of 12,840 beneficiaries.

This is Impact Project 7: BTOP Sports Academy
This project improved engagement and self-esteem among vulnerable youths through the BTOP Sports Academy, redirecting these youth from illegal activities to academic and sport achievements. This also helped the youths’ marginalised families improve employability and formed a support system for the youth among the community in Bachok, Kelantan.

Project location: Bachok, Kelantan
Host organisation: Bring The Opportunity Programme
Impact area: Education at Risk
Website: b-top.com.my/bring-the-opportunity-program-b-top


Key project outcomes

  • 66 students successfully completed the programme
  • Of these 66 students, 2 became coach and another 4 became assistant coach
  • 2 modules were created
  • 2 training sessions were created and implemented
  • 1 tournament was organised
  • 5 partnerships with relevant organisations were established
  • 1 government partnership was established

BTOP Sports Academy boosts participation in sports with the aim of generating socio-economic benefits for the local community in Bachok, Kelantan. Through its custom-designed sports-based programmes, BTOP prevents youth from entering a life of drug abuse and crime, and shows the youth how sports can make a profound and positive impact on the community, wider society, and, of course, themselves as individuals.

With the professional help of the VIP Fellows, the Host organisation was committed to design solutions for the following social issues in Kelantan:

  • Youth in Bachok, Kelantan are inclined to engage with risky behaviours (such as drug addiction, illegal racing, gambling, illegal fights and school truancy) which draws their motivation away from academic education in school.
  • Majority of the youths’ parents are from poor socio-economic backgrounds with low education level, and have monthly incomes below the poverty line of MYR2,000.
  • Besides limited resources to provide for their families, these parents are also lacking parenting knowledge, personal touch and communication with their children.

Interested in participating in impact projects like Grow Tall as a volunteer? Sign up for Incitement’s volunteering team and you’re the first to know about the coolest, most impactful social projects.

In 2017 alone, The Star newspaper (Malaysia) reported 866 drug abuse cases in Kelantan, all among youth between the ages of 15 to 18 years, a 34% increase from 2016. This is one of the alarming issues that marginalised youth are at risk of being involved in. Many of them are also at risk to engage in illegal racing, gambling, illegal fights, and school truancy. Getting involved in such behaviour takes away from their motivation towards getting formal education in school.

Being physically active is vital to the holistic development of young people, fostering their physical, social and emotional health. The benefits of sports reaches beyond the impact on physical well-being, and the value of the educational benefits of sport should not be underestimated. Physical activity often has a significant impact on one’s emotional well-being, which can help improve learning. Playing sports with others can motivate and help students with their confidence, as they can engage in friendly competition and form new friendships by working with a new group of peers.

BTOP Sport Academy aims to prevent students from getting involved in drug abuse as well as criminal activities by giving opportunities to the youth to change their lifestyles and their mindsets through sport activities. With the help of the VIP 2017 Fellows, BTOP brought co-curricular sports programmes like archery and softball into some schools of Bachok, Kelantan. The VIP Fellows focused on sixty students in total: 25 students between the ages of 15-17 years for softball, and 35 students between ages 10-12 years for archery. 100% of students successfully completed the programme.

Three main areas were considered: inclusion and community building; character-building; and delinquency and community safety. BTOP’s approach contributed to all three areas. BTOP was unique because it focused on introducing sports that the students and the community in Bachok were not commonly exposed to, such as women’s softball and archery. In doing so, they had not only managed to spark curiosity and attract the students to participate, but the students also committed themselves to honing their skills. It offered the students something more productive and healthier to do in their free time, an activity they looked forward to every week.

They left each sports session as happier people. They had self-esteem, were more motivated to achieve their goals and more open to making friends through these activities. Through the sports programme, the youth developed their identity and learn the values that will put them on a better path for their future.

VIP 2017 - BTOP Sports Academy

These new experiences translated into changing the mindset of the students. “They left each sports session as happier people. They had self-esteem, were more motivated to achieve their goals and more open to making friends through these activities. Through the sports programme, the youth developed their identity and learn the values that will put them on a better path for their future”, claimed the principal of SMK Badak, Pn. Hajah Norma.

The great thing about social impact is that it does not end with just the individual. With the students transforming into better individuals, they also become better children to their families. Their positive outlook towards life and their goals were seen in the relationship with their families, with parents sharing joyful testimonies about their children’s accomplishment in school and sports.

Parents built stronger relationships with their children as they played bigger roles in supporting them. This relationship also allowed parents to improve in their parenting and communication skills with their children. The parents were very encouraging of the sports programmes, and committed to sending their children every week, often even wanting to participate themselves. The parents’ excitement also united the community as they gather at the sports sessions to cheer on and support their children. It gave parents and teachers an opportunity to bond and work together in supporting the development of the students.

The same improvement was seen in the classroom as teachers noticed a significant difference with students attending BTOP programmes. Teachers reported that these students were more disciplined and focussed in their studies, which had a ripple effect towards higher test scores. With better academic achievement, these students have better opportunities to pursue higher education or a stable career. Interacting with the international VIP Fellows also exposed these students to different cultural backgrounds which excited them to improve their English competency which excited them to improve their English competency.

VIP 2017 - BTOP Sports Academy

BTOP conducted programmes with thirty beneficiaries involved, with the number of students quickly growing as they collaborated with more schools and developed more programmes. The VIP Fellows made an impact on these students, preventing them from engaging in risky behaviour, and changing the course of their lives. BTOP Sports Academy planted the seeds among the youth of the Bachok community, resulting in overall improvement in the community’s spirit.

Not only does physical activity have a positive effect on students who are in secondary school, it also lowers the barrier for them to continue education at the tertiary level. Sports- based programmes have been shown to not only improve the academic performance of children and young people, but at the same time encourages school attendance and a desire to succeed. Whilst a majority of research into the health and development impacts of sport has been conducted in developed countries, there are studies that support this relationship in developing countries specifically.

With the students transforming into better individuals, they also become better children to their families. Their positive outlook towards life and their goals were seen in the relationship with their families, with parents sharing joyful testimonies about their children’s accomplishment in school and sports.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for example, use sports- and play-based programmes to encourage young people, particularly girls and young women, to attend school within refugee camps across the world. In addition, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has a strong focus on using sport to campaign for girls’ education, promoting education through events and awareness campaigns. Conversely, BTOP Sports Academy launched two sports-based programmes specifically for women while under the VIP 2017 Fellowship Programme. Lastly, of the sixty students who enrolled in BTOP Sports Academy, all of them finished the programme successfully.

VIP 2017 - BTOP Sports Academy

Learn more about the VIP 2017 Fellowship Programme: VIP.org.my

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