By perfectday, Sep 25 2016 07:26PM
As I reflect on my 3 weeks in Lusaka, Zambia, it is with only fondness that I look back. We were received so warmly by our Zambian hosts at Sport in Action, and were made to feel very much valued and part of the SIA family. Special thanks go out to Stacy from Durham University whose in-country organisation, links, and local knowledge proved invaluable in helping us settle into our new surroundings, prepare ourselves for what was to come, and to ensure that the programme ran as smoothly as possible. Thanks are also due to the team of students I had the privilege of working with in Group 3 who are to be commended for their conduct – the way they embraced the Zambian culture, got stuck in at their respective placements, and seized the opportunities that came their way.
It may sound clichéd but it was an honour for me to work alongside some very dedicated, talented, and inspirational individuals at SIA (and EduSport) during my time in Zambia – right through from the management to the peer leaders. I was impacted by the commitment of the peer leaders, by the pride they took in their roles, and the knowledge they possessed. Participants clearly enjoyed taking part in the sporting activities while equally taking their training seriously. Players had a strong competitive edge and produced a standard of play that defied their humble surroundings. It was a pleasure seeing the different age ranges mix in together happily, and a highlight for me (which demonstrates one of the strengths of the programme) was how some of the young people were thriving in the additional responsibility being given to them through officiating, coaching, and looking after equipment. The development of peer leaders plays such an important role in the success of the programme, so seeing the potential “peer leaders of the future” starting to emerge was great to see.
I have gained a better understanding of the relationship between the various branches that make up the sporting infrastructure of Zambia and how the IDEALS project has been impacting on them – the way sporting facilities are being developed alongside investment in the human resource of peer leaders and site coordinators; the way that this links to developmental goals through the provision of educational opportunities, supply of food, female empowerment, and the focus on instilling values through sport; and the way these are all tied together through a strong strategic and operational approach spearheaded by NGO’s Sport In Action and EduSport.
Finally, I will take away fond memories of the people I have met along the way – the peer leaders and site coordinators, the house security guard and cleaner, all at SIA / EduSport, the students and staff, the children, and the Zambian people whose infectious friendliness and warmth have helped make the experience so enjoyable.