Having spent just over a week here working as a volunteer in Swoyambhu, Kathmandu with The Umbrella Foundation, I’m thrilled at how quickly all the boys in Machhapuchhre (the house I’ve been assigned to) have warmed to me. Their enthusiasm to interact with an ‘outsider’ and find out where I’m from and what countries I’ve visited has really aided my ‘settling in’ process. The health and fitness of these boys is of the utmost importance to their wellbeing and promoting involvement in sport is something Umbrella strongly encourage. Unfortunately due to the lack of adequate sports facilities available to the Umbrella children , oppportunities to take part in sport are limited.
Stephen (Umbrella’s Country Director) and myself decided to hold a Fitness (Bleep) Test for the boys last Saturday (Jan 22). This would allow Umbrella to ascertain the fitness levels of each boy and help create some healthy competition between them. Some of who may not be the greatest footballers in the world whenever they’re given the rare opportunity to perform their skills could compete on an even playing field with their peers. Thanks to Lincoln School who allowed us to use their facilities to host the event, we put the plans in place to get everyone to their grounds for 7.30am.
Myself and three other Irish volunteers (Orla, Sheena and Mikey), together with two French volunteers (Fabien and Christopher) and of course Stephen, the chief instigator of this excerise, all took part too. Obviously the main objective of the event was to encourage the boys to become more active, but there was also several other mini-battles on the running track on the day. There was the France vs Ireland confrontation, the Irish clearly out for some revenge for Thierry Henry’s infamous hand ball! There was also the battle between the boys and girls, one that either side was very reluctant to step down from.
For those not familiar with the format of a ‘Bleep Test’, we had a start and finish line 20 metres apart. You must run back and forth end-to-end, each time making it to the line before the ‘bleep’. As the frequency of the bleeps picks up pace, it’s increasingly difficult to stay in the game. Well done to Suman who took first place with a score of 13.6, Kamal in second place with 13.4 and Suraj with 12.9. Stephen finished with a score of 14 points but for obvious reasons he’s not getting a prize, now we know why he was so keen to take part!
Many thanks to Fr. Eanna (School Principal at Terenure College, Dublin) who provided Stephen with the Bleep Test CD, and to Lincoln School for the use of their facilities.
On the bus trip back home it was great to hear the lads compare scores and discuss the challenge they just faced with a feeling of great satisfaction. One of the boys who didn’t perform to his expectations on the day was very keen to find out when he’d get a chance again to improve on his performance. All the Umbrella houses will get a chance to take part in this fitness test over the coming weeks.
Declan Devery (Umbrella Volunteer 2011)