Each year the students of HDS are invited to take part in the Non-Formal Education Sports Day. Sports Day is a special event as it is a rare opportunity for the students to play and compete with other non-formal education schools. Because of this the students spend weeks in anticipation and use most of their free time to hone their skills in various sports and games. During the afternoons leading up to the special day, every corner of the center was occupied with different groups of students practicing soccer, volleyball, three legged races and cheer-leading routines.
The morning of Sports Day started a little earlier than the usual school day so the students could join in the annual parade. Each year the different schools meet in a pre-arranged location to organize the morning parade through town. This year the four different teams dressed in their own matching costumes, colors and uniforms to distinguish their team and school pride. With the marching bands leading the way, the teams paraded for a short walk through town before arriving at Mae Sai’s District Stadium. HDS students, dressed in blue, marched in a line holding their signs that read, “Stop Human Trafficking”.
Once at the stadium the opening ceremonies commenced with the national anthem, the raising of the flag, and the torch lighting. Soon after, the different teams separated to their section of the stadium and the first event began. This year the day kicked off with the annual dance competition. The stadium was packed with participants, teachers, families, and community members all ready to cheer for the teams. And the choreographed dances definitely inspired a lot of cheer! The morning continued with individual and team races ranging from the 100 meter dash to the 400 meter relay. The individual participants were nominated by their schools and each race included both a boys and girls team. All races were exciting to watch but probably the most entertaining, and the one that encouraged the most laughter, was the gunny sack race. It takes a lot of effort to stay upright!
After the morning events their was a small break for lunch. The rest of the afternoon was dedicated to team sports of volleyball, soccer, and takraw. Team sports were played tournament style with the winner of the first two games competing in game three to determine first and second place. On the sidelines the cheer-leading teams rooted and the commentators gave the play by plays. One of our volunteers was even handed a microphone and asked to commentate in English!
The day ended with the much anticipated awards ceremony. A podium was set up with platforms denoting the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. Prizes, that included trophies and snacks, were awarded to winners of both individual and team events. Our team placed in almost every event but I think they were most proud of placing first in men’s volleyball and soccer! The final awards were given to the teams that ranked best overall and we placed 2nd! It would seem that all their practice paid off. The day ended similarly to the way it began. The anthem was once again played, the flag was lowered, and the teams slowly made their way off the field, prizes in hand. It was an incredible day and great to watch the students having so much fun.
Days like these are made possible by the generosity of our donors and the support of our international community. Your support and donations help us provide our at-risk youth with opportunities that may otherwise not be possible. All of us here at DEPDC/GMS, especially the children, are very grateful. Thank you for reading!