Mental well-being of children is a growing concern in Hong Kong, youth suicidal rates have been increasing. To address this, we support children by enhancing their social and emotional skills, mental wellbeing, and resilience. Our “Play to Thrive” programme (“the programme”) incorporates football training with social-emotional skills, helping children aged 6-12 improve their mental well-being and social abilities. Social-emotional skills lay a solid foundation for children’s holistic development, including self-identity, emotional management, communication skills, conflict resolution, decision-making abilities, and relationship building. 

10- year-old Daniel is one of the participating children in the programme. Due to the 3-years pandemic isolation, he lacks opportunities to interact with other children, hence faces challenges in communication and emotion management.  His school teachers got headaches due to Daniel’s uncontrollable behaviours.  

Kicking Off Communication: How a Passion for Football Transformed His Communication Skills 

Daniel’s dad signed up for him immediately once they heard of our programme, helping Danial enhance his communication and emotion management skills. Daniel even got the free jerseys, shorts and football boots from this programme which also reduced the financial burden on his family.   

At the beginning, Daniel usually misbehaved when he got angry, such as shooting to his teammates and coaches. However, all of the football coaches were well-trained by us, incorperating social-emotional skills into football training. So, when Coach Poon recognised Daniel’s emotional needs, he alleviated Daniel’s tense emotion and encouraged him to face challenges with a positive mindset.  

After four months of training, Daniel is able communicate with the coach calmly when he conflicts with teammates or feels upset, learning how to manage his emotions, express himself and seek help in an appropriate manner. Now, he even takes the initiative to form a team with his teammates for matches, taking a significant step in communication and building friendships. 

“Daniel changes gradually which I feel good. He knows how to express his dissatisfaction in a mild way.” Daniel’s dad recognised a gradual improvement in both emotion and behavior.   
“I like playing football in the football lesson a lot!” Daniel said with smile
Daniel has improved a lot as he no longer yell at the teammates when he has conflicts among the children. I’m happy to see the changes of the children which I have satisfaction.” Coach Poon said.

Power of Football: Promote the Physical and Mental Well-being of Children

The “Play to Thrive” programme aims to harness the power of football to enhance children’s mental well-being, teaching social-emotional skills to children aged 6-12. Children from diverse economic backgrounds, genders, and learning abilities are all encouraged to participate. Furthermore, through collaboration with football coaches and parents, the programme also enhances the coaches’ ability to integrate social-emotional skills into football coaching, while fostering a supportive family environment for children. 

Emotions are innate natural responses, and learning to pay attention, understand, and accept our own and others’ emotions is crucial for our emotional well-being. The programme has had a positive impact on 139 children, including Daniel, as they have become more willing to engage in communication with their peers, navigate challenges, and demonstrate empathyYour support will enable us to reach more children in Hong Kong helping them thrive and grow.