Edinburgh students return from volunteering in Zambia

Three University of Edinburgh students have spent the summer volunteering in the Zambian capital, Lusaka, as part of the Volunteer Zambia project.

About The Wallace Group and Volunteer Zambia

The project sees students work alongside Zambian NGO Sport In Action, aiming to create long lasting sporting opportunities for young people and coaches.

Using sport as a tool for development, the project uses netball, basketball, and football to engage and inspire people across hub sites in Lusaka. The project is a collaboration between Wallace Group universities: University of Edinburgh, University of Stirling, University of St Andrews, Durham University, Loughborough University, Northumbria University and Cardiff Metropolitan University. 

Group photo of Volunteer Zambia

The 2023 Cohort

This year representing the University of Edinburgh was Netball Development Officer Heather Larmour, Basketball Development Officer Kathryn Nicol and Media, Marketing and Communications Officer Telfer Gray. Supporting the students was staff from the seven institutions including Sports Coordinator - Coaching & Volunteering Neil Rankin.

student pictured with Zambian children

Our students lived in Zambia for two months, located in the capital of Lusaka working daily with local coaches mentoring and supporting their delivery of sport. They had further opportunities to implement their skills and experiences delivering coach educator workshops, enabling locals to pick up internationally recognised coaching qualifications. This inspired and supported the personal growth of local coaches, contributing to tangible benefits for local communities.

I have absolutely loved my time in Zambia! Seeing how much the kids love their sport here is really inspiring and makes you really appreciate how more accessible sport is back in the UK. The players and coaches here made me fall in love again with basketball and I can’t wait to share all the knowledge I have learnt here with coaches and players back in Edinburgh.

Kathryn NicolBasketball Development Officer

No day was the same in Zambia, meaning students had to be readily prepared for the unexpected. Resilience and problem solving were important skills on the project, especially when there is limited access to equipment and participant numbers could vary from 10 to 100.

Student teaching basketball in Zambia

Collaborating with students from other universities our volunteers also participated in outreach work, visiting local schools and communities alongside their Zambian coaches, looking to attract greater participant numbers to their Hub Sites.

My time in Zambia, was immense, I would recommend it anyone, these experiences will stay with me forever. By collaborating with Zambians, I was able to transfer and reciprocate knowledge helping make a positive difference to the lives of Zambians. Working alongside the Sport In Action Media Officer was really rewarding seeing him grow and being out there also opened up my eyes to possible future career opportunities in sport and international development

Telfer GrayMedia, Marketing and Communications Officer

As one of this year’s MMC Officer’s Telfer was able to promote and tell the stories of success within the project to external audiences in Africa and the UK. A notable highlight for Telfer included interviewing the Zambian Netball Head Coach Andreas Tembo, who, aged 27, is the youngest national team Head Coach in World Netball. Andreas is just one of many inspiring people our students were able to meet, who have begun to take full advantage of the sporting pathways built in-country.  

Being a part of Volunteer Zambia through the university was the best decision I ever made. The whole project is so well organised, and the people involved are the heart and soul of the whole thing. Whilst in country, I had placements every day from Monday till Friday at my hub site which had coaches for netball, basketball, and football. I worked closely alongside the Netball coaches to help build on their coaching ability by teaching fundamentals of coaching and giving them tips to help remember aspects such as progression, transition timing and feedback. I would recommend this to anyone who has coach development experience, go grab the opportunity with both hands and make a difference.

Heather LarmourNetball Student Sport Development Officer

Volunteer Zambia 2024

Applications for the 2024 cohort of this life changing opportunity will be open in September. Students who are successful in applying are supported through their journey by staff at the University. There are two inductions to help students prepare and upskill themselves, including a residential weekend held at one of the participating institutions. Students are required to work together toward individual and group fundraising targets, and look for opportunities to develop themselves as coach educators.

Apply for the 2024 Cohort (external site)

Further information