BOOST Rugby programme in ZambiaSubscribe
Paddy Bedi 03 October 2012
Loughborough University is pioneering a new rugby initiative in Zambia, facilitated through UK Sport’s sport and cultural exchange programme, International Development through Excellence and Leadership in Sport (IDEALS).
The BOOST rugby programme, which enhances the skills of student coaches in the UK, sent a rugby coach and coordinator in addition to sending students on the IDEALS programme in Zambia this year. This sport specific expertise will add to the current netball and basketball initiatives that are run in partnership with UK Sport, national sports federations and Durham University. Students who undertake placements in Zambia are part of the Wallace Group of universities, seven of the UK’s leading higher education institutions for sport, including Loughborough and Durham.
BOOST, a charity based in the UK, works to develop sport for disadvantaged and disabled groups, including wheelchair basketball, boccia and many other sports. In the East Midlands, where Loughborough University is based, students are trained as coaches to deliver rugby sessions in underprivileged areas and have spent the year working with youth from communities in inner city Leicester.
The BOOST programme at Loughborough University first piloted a coaching and cultural exchange project in the West Indies, a project that has led to significant structural changes to the development of rugby. It is because of the success of this programme and the knowledge of how to adapt programme delivery in different cultural and sporting environments to the UK, that BOOST and Loughborough developed this new programme in Zambia.
Project coordinator, Alex Laybourne, believes the collaboration will enhance the development and standard of rugby in Zambia through a strategic pathway, thanks to their partnerships with local grassroots NGOs Sport In Action and EduSport, and Zambian Rugby Football Union and the International Rugby Board (IRB). These partnerships with governing federations are the essence to ensuring that the programme remains sustainable when British coaches are not there to deliver training.
He said: “The BOOST programme already works with student coaches at Loughborough, so this opportunity to work with grassroots organisations in Zambia was perfect as students already have the knowledge of how to deliver rugby in less-developed areas.”
The BOOST programme is working with international and national rugby organisations to ensure this first year begins a lasting legacy for sport in the country.
“The great thing about rugby is that many teachers have never played the game, so they are inspired to learn more. Rugby is growing, and there is so much possibility to work in other provinces too,” he continued.
Nick Wilkinson, Student Sport Development Officer at Loughborough University, says this year’s sessions and partnership work show signs for great potential, “The majority of children have not played here, so we want to establish a pathway for children who want to play.”
Gregory Shikombelo, from EduSport, an implementing partner of the IDEALS programme, believes that Rugby is a sport that is gaining more and more attention in Zambia.
He said: “We do not have a lot of trained coaches in rugby, people can pick it up but we need to hold more regular trainings. There is a very strong interest in the sport in the community an there is a future for the game, we need to push to get involved in international games, then I can see it and going far.”
With preparations for the Rugby World Cup in 2015 the focus of the rugby community, the outcomes of the Boost programme could maybe one day provide Zambia with an opportunity to compete on the world stage.