Sport Program Officer, The Yearley Trust
Kopila herself had to overcome considerable prejudice to be even allowed to play the national sport of volleyball when she was young as girls were not allowed to play sport. She has now 17 years behind her back representing Nepal in International level volleyball.
”Change the life of one girl and you will change a whole generation. When I decided to leave my house, my mother, brothers and sisters, I didn’t know anything about empowerment. I just chose to leave a situation that was destructive to me. Without a plan, goal, money or network. At that time I was only aware about one thing: if I would stay, I would die.
My journey has not been easy. But I was determined to create a better future for myself. And I knew that returning home was only possible after I achieved something. After winning my first medal and prize money I realised: this is my chance to return home. So returned and took the responsibility of raising my brothers and sister. I provided them a house, food and education in Kathmandu. I showed them how to make choices, to work hard and to take responsibility. By now all of them have a good education and a job. They are independent. A generation in my family has changed read the whole interview here
Volleyball provided me the opportunity to develop myself as a person. I learned to cooperate, to set goals and to raise myself after an important loss. I even learned to lead the team as a captain, something that brought me a lot of confidence. Sports brings freedom. Society rules do not count within the court lines. So as soon as we are able to bring girls inside the court, they can let go of the stress, pressure and expectations that society is giving them. Playing volleyball clears their mind and makes their confidence grow. It’s fun and they smile. At that moment they are opening up to learn new things, to develop new ideas and to look at the situation from a higher perspective. With Volleyball4Life I would like to provide girls the opportunity to open up and develop themselves. I want to activate their mind and give them guidelines how to think about change. The program helps them to find their passion and qualities, to set goals and to make a plan. In order to achieve their goal they learn how to cooperate and to speak out. Step by step they build up their self-confidence and position within their family and community. For me girls empowerment is about taking control of your body, mind and life. Everyone who is able to reach this situation, can continuously develop herself and bring a huge contribution to her family and community. But if we ask girls to chance their behaviour, their way of thinking, it also affects the boys and fathers. They are used to the traditional situation in which they have full control. Empowering girls forces men to partly let go of this control. It makes them insecure and they feel like there are losing position. For men it takes a lot of self-confidence and courage to loosen up the strings. Girls empowerment therefore cannot be a stand-alone program. That’s why I believe that we can really make a difference in Nalang. The community understands that change is necessary to build up a sustainable future for the community. Girls empowerment is only one part of that, but nevertheless important. My dream is to change at least the life of one girl, so she can change a whole generation.”