Following on from Nade Ward, from Potters activities team, fundraising ahead of his Saint Lucia football project, he has emailed us an update following on from his trip. Over to you Nade…
I have just returned home from my two week football coaching volunteer project in Saint Lucia and it was an incredible experience.
I coached after school clubs at Marchand and Vide Bouteille primary schools, delivered FUNdamental sessions at a local pre-school, as well as coached the senior teams from two of the islands popular football clubs, Valley Soccer and Big Players FC, helping them prepare for league matches.
During my trip we had a mixture of football, rugby and netball coaches, as well as physiotherapists, all working together to help transform lives through sport. The group were timetabled into different schools, clubs and academies specific to their specialist area. I was the lead coach for football due to my experience and qualifications.
When planning sessions we stuck by two key ethos, participation and enjoyment, so our practices were designed with lots of point scoring systems, fun themes, individual challenges and opportunities for players to solve problems. We wanted to create leaders and boost the confidence of our players and giving them ownership in training was very important.
Each session left me pleasantly surprised at how appreciative the groups were to receive our coaching. They listened clearly when we were talking and would happily discuss things when we asked them questions and were very keen learners! It soon became clear that sport was their way to express themselves.
Working with Valley Soccer Academy, I spoke to the chairman who had been running the academy for over 17 years and I asked what his motivation was to start the academy. He told me that when he was a young boy in Saint Lucia he loved to play football and had a huge willingness to learn and wanted to go to university, however his family simply couldn’t afford for him to go. Thanks to football one of his youth coaches sent him to a university in America to play and the scouts came down to watch him play and were so impressed with his ability that they offered him a university scholarship. He realised then that money wasn’t the only answer to a better education and that football, or any sport for that matter, can open just as many doors! It was because of this that he set up the club, to give kids within the local area the chance to be the best footballers they can be, in the hope that one day they may also receive that golden ticket to a better life.
I am proud to announce that the money I raised, £1,077.85, will be spent on providing kids with new football kits and boots, as well as new coaching equipment, such as balls, bibs, cones and pop up goals for coaches to use in their sessions. The remaining amount of money will then go towards the soccer schools that United Through Sport will be running in July and August 2019.
Throughout my volunteer project I coached lots of different age groups and ability levels, but the one thing in each person that didn’t change was their mindset to be better than they were yesterday.
Volunteering abroad humbles you and it is impossible to return home the same once you realise that the things you moan about really aren’t problems at all, compared to those who don’t have an education, access to healthcare and much support around them.
I am proud to have been able to visit such a fascinating country, meet so many awesome people and help make a difference.