Edinburgh Students Volunteering in Zambia

Three University of Edinburgh students have travelled to Zambia for the summer to take part in our coach development, volunteering programme - Volunteer Zambia.

The project will involve University of Edinburgh students living with other UK students in Lusaka for 8 weeks while they support Zambia coaches in obtaining coaching qualifications.

Group of student outside airport

The project focuses on basketball, netball and women’s football. While the main aim is to improve the standard of coaching within communities, there is an underlying theme of empowering women in sport. Zambia is a very traditional and religious country, particularly in Lusaka, and gender roles often result in fewer women taking on leadership roles in sport. Through this project our students help break down barriers to participation and encourage more women to get involved in coaching opportunities.

The project includes students from the Wallace Group universities – Bath, Cardiff Met, Durham, Loughborough, Northumbria, St Andrews and Stirling. Vital to the in-country delivery is the partnership with Sport in Action, Zambia’s largest NGO. Sport in Action work with national governing bodies to develop Level 1 coaching courses that are then delivered by our students. This creates a more sustainable intervention model where Zambian coaches receive support to improve their coaching abilities.

This year, Heather Larmour (3rd year Physical Education student) will take part in a Netball Development Officer role, and Kathryn Nicol (1st Year Arabic and French) will deliver coach education as a Basketball Development Officer. The project also has an opportunity for students to attend in a media role. Telfer Gray (4th Year Sport and Rec Management) will build on his experience as Sports Union Media Officer, to support the communications and media of the project, working closely with governing bodies and key partners.

Students live together in Lusaka and travel across the capital city to hub-sites. The hub-site model puts sport at the centre of communities, where regular coaching takes place alongside tournaments and other events. This encourages community ownership of the sport space and empowers them to continue to develop once students leave after their 8-week placement.

Students travelling to Zambia are required to complete a Level 1 qualification in their chosen sport and undertake at least 40 hours of coaching between being selected to participate and travelling to Zambia. This ensures we are sending out a high standard of coach that will have a positive impact in-country. Students are also required to fundraise for the project and this year they have undertaken bake sales, race nights and international student celebrations. We have also raised funds for the project through the SU Sports Ball and kit sales throughout the year.

This project is an important part of the Edinburgh University Sports Union offering. Participating students build their confidence and resilience while being supported in their personal development. The sustainable nature of the project leaves a positive legacy and empowers communities.