Stories that matter.
Stories that matter. Stories that matter.

EMPOWER 2014 is ROTA’s (Reach Out To Asia) sixth annual 3-day Youth Conference on Leadership, Service Learning and Global Citizenship, Qatar. In the last 5 five years, EMPOWER has gained a reputation as the first youth-led conference in Qatar. It focuses on equipping young people with skills to take active roles in building their communities, as well as and having a voice on global issues. [1]

The main aim of the event was to raise awareness and build knowledge and capacity to enable young people to take leadership roles in addressing local and international developmental issues of concern to them.The three-day event included a combination of seminar, panel discussion, power speeches, keynote speeches, small group workshops, off-site visits, and a youth panel. The major theme was Sports for Youth Empowerment. [2]

Two of our Magic Bus Trainers, Aman Sharma and Subhomoy Bhaduri, took part in the conference. Their role involves recruiting and training youth to deliver the Magic Bus programme in the field to children from some of the poorest communities across India. At Empower 2014, Aman and Subhomoy conducted a workshop on leadership, exploring the advantages and disadvantages of various leadership styles through an experiential activity, encouraging young people who took part to develop their own styles.

They demonstrated how sport can be used to address “socio-emotional learning”. A group activity began after some ice-breakers. The group played “touchdown handball”, a game where players pass the ball among their team with the overall objective of touching the ball down on their opponent’s line. [3.1]

The game was played with a difference as there was no referee during the game, the players were responsible for keeping score, penalising unfair play and resolving disputes. The reason for this gets to the heart of the socio-emotional learning curriculum by Magic Bus. Playing sport can lead to strong emotions, both positive and negative. Without the presence of a referee, participants need to confront those emotions, find a resolution and manage the way they behave. [3.2]

Emotions experienced on the sport field can mirror those felt in everyday life. People experience conflict or anger at school, at work and at home: by learning to deal with these situations and manage emotions in a controlled environment, difficult day-to-day situations can become less challenging. [3.3]

The relationship between sport and everyday life.

The final activity brought the group together to discuss the game and situations that arose. Participants highlighted a range of situations which caused conflict or anger, and skills, such as teamwork, communication and negotiation, which were needed to navigate these potential flash points. A central component the of Magic Bus programmes requires the facilitator to relate the activity to participants' daily lives, highlighting the need to manage emotions and negotiate – both on and off the sports field. [3.4]

"There was great participation from different countries. This exposure gave us an understanding of the cultural aspect to sport, though there were leaders from various organisations present, one would notice that some would not get involved with the opposite gender whilst taking part in a group activity," shared Aman.

Subhomoy added that the participation at this conference was interesting to note. Although there was a language barrier, the enthusiasm shown by participants to learn and be involved in all the activities and discussions were evident.


They said they found, amidst the gathering of great young minds, a network of skills and talents, and felt encouraged by the spirit of the EMPOWER initiative.

Article source:

[1] ROTA website:
[2], [3]