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Student sport and development programme highlights unique and versatile role of sport

“Most of the young people I was coaching in Zambia used the opportunity to participate in sport as an outlet for stresses they may be facing at home. Some of the girls couldn’t make training on time because they had to cook and clean for their families but despite this, training remained a priority,” says Raina Omar, a former student at Loughborough University.

Earlier this year Raina spent six weeks as a Basketball Coach in Chipata, a community in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka. Working alongside young Zambian coaches she shares how sport can be used to address issues that are not so obvious to coaches in the UK:

“When I coach in the UK, students often don’t want to be there and attend by force of parents or guardians. In Zambia, young people view sport as a privilege and were therefore highly motivated to be there. As a coach it was refreshing to be respected as a leader, not just a teacher,” she continues.

At the centre of International Inspiration’s (IN) programmes is giving children and young people the right to access high quality, safe and inclusive sport. Sport and play hold unique qualities that can engage and impart key life skills, but it is also a highly creative environment for players to express themselves. Coaches can serve as mentors for children and training becomes an environment that resonates the values of sport, such as unity and strength, that may not be present in other areas of their lives. It is also a chance to reflect on personal ones.  

“Being able to experience Zambian culture has enabled me to appreciate other people’s values. Although I was born in Zanzibar and had experience of Africa, Zambia was completely different,” she says.

Understanding that the delivery of sport needs to be adapted to local needs is why IN works in partnership with local grassroots organisations to ensure that local expertise at the heart of community activity drives our sport and development work. Through the International Development through Excellence And Leadership though Sport (IDEALS) programme, student coaches from universities across the UK have the opportunity to learn from their international counterparts.

Raina was selected as an International Inspiration Ambassador and returned from her placement to take up the highly competitive position of Sport, Outreach and Recruitment Intern at Loughborough University.

“I feel the IDEALS programme was definitely a contributing factor for me to secure a paid internship within a highly competitive field. In my role I promote Higher Education and am often faced with the same adversities as those in Zambia and have to be reactive in many situations.”

The IDEALS programme is managed and supported by UK Sport and most recently IN, and works in partnership with NGOs and associations in four countries across Africa. Next year, the IDEALS programme in Zambia will celebrate 10 years of giving students from the WALLACE group of universities the opportunity to experience and adapt their own coaching skills.