By Hugh Braidwood
Wow! What a crazy, surreal introduction to Zambia we have had; here is a quick blog about my first week on my placement in Zambia.
Bright and early the next day after landing in Lusaka, we headed to the YWCA for our morning induction with Sport in Action (SIA); we had the site peer leaders, coaches and staff from SIA to introduce us to life in Zambia, what to expect on our placements, some cultural tips (such as the girls in our group will likely be proposed to on the bus!) and some Zambian icebreaker games which are a tonne of fun. We met some fantastic and very passionate people who are working 110% to give children valuable life skills and an identity through the power of sport. We had a chance to sit down and talk to the peer leaders at our sites; I met Katambi and Agnes who are peer leaders for basketball and Kabwata, I could tell straight away that I was going to get on well with them and was excited to see what was to come.
At the start of my placement I had the opportunity to offer help with coach development as some of the coaches there are signing up to a coaching level one course and Bright is organising it but it is a lot to take on when you’re only 20 years old! I also managed to chat to Gideon who has been at Mtendere since about 2007 and is loved by everyone, sometimes known as ‘Mr Mamba’, he and I will be directing the Wallace Tournament at the end of September so it was great to catch up with him.
I am based at Kabwata play park, I have built some really good relationships with the leaders and children there; they have given me a Zambian name of ‘Coach Kopema’ which stands for ‘breath’ after I showed them a funny way of trying to pronounce my name by exhaling whilst saying ‘Hugh’. I’ve had my hair, clothes and notebook played with, a million and one questions and me and my life at home, etc. I have also prepared my own signature handshake to greet the kids with everyday and had wristbands made for each of them which I gave out at the end of Friday. This was well timed as Katambi and I delivered a life skill session of good team work, so after we gave them a big debrief, pep-talk and prayer post-session I gave them all a wristband. There was a really nice connection between everyone there that afternoon which was a lovely way to finish the week.
The next few weeks are extremely exciting and I am really looking forward to going out into the community, talking to schools and churches about what we are able to offer and increasing our participation numbers and I will also be working on coach development. I have tried to make the most of every single day and I really hope I can make a difference, time is flying by but we will all keep pushing to do as much as we can whilst we are in this fantastic country.