Kuala Lumpur’s SMK Vivekananda students listen attentively to the presenters.
At the core of youth empowerment is the belief that young people are capable of incredible things. And at the heart of RYTHM Foundation’s efforts is guiding youth toward inspiring ideas and opportunities that empower them.
One such effort is Jaguh RF (RF Champion), a programme conceived and implemented by RYTHM for 14-year-old Malaysian boys from low-income families to excel through sports.
Jaguh RF’s collaborative activities aim to nurture participants’ holistic development by focusing on football skills training, character development, and academic guidance.
The QI Group’s Malaysian football club, PJ City FC (PJ City), has pledged its full support towards the success of Jaguh RF. RYTHM is the social impact arm of QI.
The Foundation will also engage with existing and new partners, including the participating schools, to build the programme’s other character and educational improvement provisions.
Jaguh RF’s broader, long-term aims include producing youths capable of managing their lives, making wise educational and career choices, and developing a sense of loyalty towards their communities and country.
Numerous studies document the benefits of sports in early life. The advantages include imparting teamwork, leadership, problem-solving, planning, and social interaction skills alongside gaining mental and physical vigour.
In addition, research shows a link between playing sports and self-esteem in children – a team’s support, a kind word from a coach, or achieving their personal best all help children feel better about themselves.
Playing in a team also helps the young develop many social skills like cooperation, consideration, and listening skills.
Jaguh RF in Play
RYTHM recently kicked off the secondary school programme at SMK Vivekananda in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, with a pre-orientation event for about 50 students and teachers. This first three-year initiative aims to recruit 40 participants.
Representatives from RYTHM and PJ City addressed the students to create excitement and anticipation for the programme.
The Head of RYTHM, Santhi Periasamy, believes the programme has the potential to change each participant’s life course.
“Supporting youth has always been an essential part of the fabric of RYTHM Foundation,” Santhi said. “We realise the potential of sports in developing youth and believe Jaguh RF will positively impact these young lives both on and off the field.
“Although a significant aspect of Jaguh RF is the exciting element of football, it is also a tremendous platform for teaching the ‘game of life,’” Santhi added.
PJ City FC’s Steven Jackson with students Kamaleswaran (left) and Harie Keiysan.
PJ City’s Technical Director, Steven Jackson, described Jaguh RF’s drive for social change through football as admirable.
“Jaguh RF is an effective programme for the many positives it promotes. We relish the opportunity to discover a potential future PJ City player from this school,” Steven said.
“However, what is just as important is helping the teens develop valuable life skills like responsibility, perseverance, and sportsmanship.”
Steven added that youth development has always been a key focus area for PJ City, the only all-Malaysian team in the Malaysian Super League. “Malaysia boasts some exceptionally talented footballers, as is evident in what we have with our team.
“This programme will allow youngsters to reach their potential. I can’t wait to see what we unearth from the skills assessment exercise we conduct at this school soon.”
PJ City’s role in Jaguh RF will include assisting RYTHM in identifying trainers, securing training grounds, and organising friendly matches during the programme’s duration.
Students fill out a form to express their interest in joining Jaguh RF.
Form Two student Kamaleswaran is excited about the programme and his chances of making the selection process.
“My favourite sport is football because lots of my friends play the game, and I want to be really good at it,” Kamaleswaran said. “I hope I am picked for Jaguh RF because it will be a good opportunity for me to improve my skills.”
Kamaleswaran’s fellow schoolmate, S. Harie Keiysan, likewise looks forward to the try-out.
“I believe participating in this programme will help me improve my studies and health, too,” the Form 2 student said. “I play many games, but football is my favourite game.”