Hugh McCluggage, AFL Brisbane Lions FC Midfielder, has just returned from the World Youth International School in Nepal, where he embarked on a trip of a lifetime to launch an innovative sports and creative arts program.
Over the last few months, Hugh raised over AUD $33,000 towards musical instruments and sporting equipment that will be utilised at the School for many years to come. Hugh launched the program on his first day at the School by unveiling the items to a very excited group of students. Following the launch, Hugh then spent two weeks volunteering at the School, where he shared his knowledge and passion for music and sports with over 600 students.
Hugh says he is keenly aware of the opportunities and support he had as a child growing up in Victoria, “opportunities that many children miss out on”, and that is what inspired him to take part in the program during the footy off-season.
“Previously I've been on trips overseas, in places like America and Mexico, during the off-season,” says Hugh.
“This time I just wanted to do a trip where I could give back and do something a little bit different. This trip enabled me to provide underprivileged children with some skills that hopefully they can take into the future.”
Hugh says his goal while in Nepal was to empower as many students as possible with new skills that could build their confidence, resilience, coordination, and communications skills.
“Sport and music is something that everyone can relate to, no matter where you live, no matter what your background. For me to bring that over to these students in Nepal and provide them the opportunity to partake in these activities has been super special.”
“I had an amazing time - lots of laughs and fun with the kids. It's just been so good to be able to teach in a classroom setting, and play sports together. What I saw is that a lot of them don't have a whole lot, but they're so happy all the time. It definitely put a lot into perspective for me. I didn't really know what to expect before going over to Nepal but while there, I fell in love with the place. I really enjoyed my time at the School and hopefully will get back there again one day.”
During Hugh’s time at the School, he worked alongside World Youth International team members also from Australia to establish the School’s first ever cricket team.
“Teaching the kids how to play cricket, football, and soccer was some of the most rewarding experiences. A lot of them, particularly the girls, hadn't played cricket before and to see how quickly they picked it up was amazing. Hopefully they can continue to grow and improve their skills not just with sport, but also with the music instruments that they now have access to,” says Hugh.
Hugh was also able to bring some footballs over to the School. “Thanks to the team at Sherrin, I was able to bring some Sherrin footballs over to Nepal with me. These were generously donated to the School. What surprised me is that when I gave them a football, which they had never before seen in their lives, they watched me kick it a few times and just copied – and did really well. They're very naturally talented kids and to see them pick up the footy and pick up a skill that they've never known is pretty incredible.”
While in Nepal, Hugh managed to keep up his training and nutrition so his fitness levels could be maintained as he approaches the new season.
“I had access to a gym and running track in Nepal, so was able to stay active and keep my fitness on track. BodyScience provided me with some protein powder and a few other supplements that I was able to use over there. I was definitely able to keep up my training load, as we go back to pre-season soon.”
World Youth International’s Adelaide-based Director, Gabriella Ocenasek, said the World Youth International School provides children with a quality education through shared cultural teachings and experiences.
“Hugh’s commitment enables many students at the school to now learn new skills that will improve their development and open up employment pathways,” Gabriella says.
“We are proud to have partnered with Hugh and are excited that his generous contribution will allow underprivileged students to have this exciting opportunity to further their education.”
It costs $100 to provide 1 child access to the sports and creative arts program at the World Youth International School in Nepal.
Tax deductible donations can be placed via: https://worldyouth.org.au/fundraising/hugh-mccluggage