Volunteering in India and teaching sports is a fantastic way to pass on your love for and knowledge about physical activity. Here is GVI’s guide to making sure that you stay active as well when you volunteer in Kerala, India.
Volunteering in India on GVI’s sports teaching program is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to help children in Kerala stay active, boost their confidence and wellbeing through sports, and aid them in learning English.
Not only does the program enable you to develop your interpersonal and teaching skills, but it helps the children in this community have fun while learning.
During your time in Kerala, it is important that you look after yourself, alongside your volunteering duties. This may include taking part in activities and sports during your free time.
Get active in Kerala
Kerala, on the southwestern coast of India, is the location of GVI’s volunteering base in India.
The tropical climate in this area is ideal for spending time outside, trying new activities, or participating in ones you already love. Being located on the coast, Kerala boasts a variety of locations, from forests to beaches, making sure that there is somewhere for everybody to enjoy their favorite activity.
Here are some of our top picks:
1) As the Kerala region is situated on the coast of India, take this opportunity to get in the water. The Marari Beach is well-known for its cleanliness and abundance of natural life. There is a local team of volunteers dedicated to the clean-up of this beach. Take a look at their Facebook page here, and make time on a day off to help them.
Take a trip here to go swimming, snorkeling, or surfing in the warm, crystalline waters. As with swimming in open water anywhere, ensure that you stay in sight of other people, and don’t go into the water alone.
Original photo: Andy Kaye
2) The beach is also ideal for taking part in sports such as volleyball or handball. There are often people playing on the beach, so get a team together with peers who are also volunteering in Kerala. This is an easy way to make new friends and bond with your fellow volunteers.
3) For all the dance lovers out there considering volunteering in India, seize the opportunity to learn traditional Kathakali dance in the place where it was born.
Kathakali is the traditional genre of Indian theatrical dance. These dances tell a story and incorporate detailed costumes and masks.
One place that offers Kathakali dance classes is the Kerala Kathakali Centre. This might not be your average dance class, but it is surely one that you will never forget.
Original photo: Bryan Ledgard
4) On your days off from teaching sports in Kerala, take a trekking trip to one of the many national parks in the local area.
This is a chance for more low-impact exercise, taking the walk slowly and steadily, and with plenty of things to stop and look at. Silent Valley National Park is not to be missed, with an absolutely gripping array of fauna, from tigers to toads.
The flora in the park is also remarkable, with over 1,000 species of flowering plants. This collection is increasingly rare due to the endangerment of many species of animals and plants.
Make sure to plan your trip to a national park with a local tour guide to ensure your safety when exploring this display of nature. It can be difficult to find your way, and know the safest routes, without local insider knowledge.
Original photo: Shahin Olakara
5) If you are somebody who prefers to keep things simple and use a ‘normal’ gym, this is also a possibility when volunteering in Kerala. As a volunteer, you won’t be staying in Kerala long-term, so a gym subscription wouldn’t make financial sense.
But it can be difficult to keep up a sports regime when volunteering abroad. Our top tip is to take a look at local hotels near to where you are staying. Hotel gyms are often available for use by non-hotel visitors for a small fee. This can be useful to short-term visitors as you can pay per visit, and don’t require a sign-up fee or a subscription.
6) For all the runners out there, there’s no reason to stop running when volunteering in India. Use a service such as MapMyRun to plan routes near your accommodation, and see local routes that other people take.
You can choose to run on paths and streets, or go more off the beaten track and take things off-road. It is a good idea to run with another volunteer, to make sure that you stay safe and don’t get lost on your own. Always tell somebody where you are planning on running, and how long it should take.
The importance of staying active when volunteering abroad
It is extremely important for all our volunteers to continue to do the things that they love when volunteering abroad, and to put themselves out there to try new activities and develop additional skills.
The decision to volunteer abroad with GVI is a big step. Traveling to a new place, meeting new people, and doing things you’ve never done before is all exciting, but it can also be a bit nerve-wracking. It is completely normal to feel nervous when volunteering abroad.
Physical activity has positive effects not only on physical health but also on mental health. Your time volunteering with GVI will be made all the more enjoyable if you factor in some time to do an activity that is fun and familiar to you, in your downtime.
Barnaby, a GVI volunteer in Kerala, mentions in his testimonial that one of the challenges that he overcame when volunteering abroad was being away from his family, and stepping into a new way of life. Taking part in a physical activity that you enjoy is a way to help yourself acclimatize to your new surroundings.
Volunteer teaching sports in India
If you have a passion for sport and want to volunteer with children, then GVI’s sports teaching program in Kerala, India, is ideal for you.
Take a look at the program page for more information.
Ready to get active and begin teaching sports in India? Contact the GVI team today.