SportWORKS Officer Introduces Sri Lanka to a New Sport

Ellen Kim pictured in Rwanda

SportWORKS Officer Introduces Sri Lanka to a New Sport

One of the most gratifying aspects of the SportWORKS program is when Officers find a need within their host country that aligns with a personal passion of the Officer.  For Ellen Kim, a former competitive gymnast and coach currently working with the National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka, this alignment has recently come to light.  Over the past month, Ellen has partnered with a local dance studio to bring Rhythmic Gymnastics to Sri Lanka for the very first time.

“When I arrived in Sri Lanka and realized that Rhythmic Gymnastics had never been introduced to this country, I knew that this was something I absolutely needed to do. Not only is it an up-and-coming sport in Asia, it is also a female-only discipline on the Olympic level, meaning there is an additional opportunity to encourage greater female participation in sport in Sri Lanka.”

When Ellen speaks about her involvement in the sport, her passion to make a difference in her new home becomes very evident,

“It has been a wonderful experience to not only re-involve myself with the sport that I fell in love with, but also to engage in it in a completely different capacity to what I have ever known.  Rhythmic Gymnastics completely stole my heart when I first tried it at the age of six, and I have been actively involved in it ever since.”

Introducing a new sport has not come without its challenges, but Ellen has embraced the opportunity to discover creative solutions to obstacles that did not exist for her in the Canadian context,

“While I have had a multitude of coaching experiences in Canada, the journey here has been vastly more rewarding, simply because the children I teach have never had this opportunity before,” said Ellen.  “The lack of apparatus and equipment in Sri Lanka has been both a challenge and a blessing. While I have been forced to experiment and focus on body technique more than a young child typically likes, I have also been challenged to expand my creativity and use innovative techniques to make the classes enjoyable and educational.”

A dedicated and eager CSO, Ellen is not content with merely providing an introduction to the sport.  Over the remainder of her placement in Sri Lanka, Ellen has big plans for Rhythmic Gymnastics,

“My next goals include utilizing the connections I have back in Canada to organize a used-equipment initiative. I am also looking to develop an educational, movement-based curriculum with which I can deliver workshops all over the country!”