A Summer in Zambia: Student experience

Monday 28 August 2023
Netball Volunteer Amy Gordon, spent 8 weeks of her Summer Volunteering in Zambia as part of our International Volunteering programme.

Over the past summer I have spent 8 weeks in Lusaka, Zambia with Volunteer Zambia project, where we volunteered alongside NGO Sport in Action Zambia. Sport in Action work within Zambia to develop sport and sport participation not only in Lusaka but around the country. The time I spent in Zambia was an absolutely unreal and an unforgettable experience that I will always be incredibly thankful for.

What did we do?

As a volunteer in Zambia my role, (alongside the 17 others who travelled from the UK to volunteer in Zambia) was a coach development officer. I specialised in Netball but the project also focused on Football and Basketball. On our various placement sites we would work collaboratively with the Zambian volunteer coaches to increase participation, build programs, facilitate competition and overall coaching skills. Over the 8 weeks we saw a HUGE amount of progress across all sites, which was truly inspiring witnessing everyone’s hard work and dedication pay off! Each hub-site held their own different challenges and barriers which meant we all had different goals and aims to work with. It was amazing to see how everyone approached their site’s challenges differently and took in what they were learning each day to maximise the productivity of the work done.

Each sport also delivered sport specific workshops to the Zambian coaches. This allowed us as coach developers to really dig into the ‘Why’ behind coaching. While being able to further equip the Zambian volunteers with coaching knowledge, skills and drills they can take into their own individual hub-sites and sessions. The workshops are an integral part of this project and were a vital component in the development of coaches across the board.

My Experience

I am currently going into my 3rd year at St Andrews studying an MA in International Relations. I have been part of the netball club here since I joined the university.

I was placed at 2 different hub sites for netball. One called Kalikiliki and the other Kaunda Square. Sophie and I were placed at these sites together and worked with one another every day. Kalikiliki was only a 15 minute walk from where we were staying, which was very convenient. This site’s main challenges were participation, competition and helping the coaches expand their knowledge of session structure and variation of drills.

Kaunda square had similar challenges while also having a few extra hurdles, such as empowering existing and recruiting new peer leaders amongst the participants in the site. This was mainly done by expressing the rewards to the individual coaching presents and the life skills it equips you with.

It was so inspiring to witness the confidence of the Zambian volunteers grow. The improvement in sessions from week 1 to week 8 was massive. This progress was instrumental in showing me the true positive impact sport has on both individuals and communities. It creates a positive ethos and outlet for members of these communities, aiding development and drive within, where these hub-sites are placed. The work done all year round by Volunteer Zambia and Sport in Action is phenomenal and I will forever be grateful to have had the privilege to have been part of such important, inspiring and impactful project.

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