Over the past month and a half, six students from the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering students have been volunteering for the charity Sport In Action, in Zambia, Africa. Sport In Action use sport to develop local communities and individuals. This is achieved by using sport and recreation as a tool to improve the quality of children’s lives by providing a programme that will bring about motivation, self-development and self-reliance.

The team from Bath worked with local contractors to construct sports facilities to enable the charity’s fantastic work to continue. The majority of this focus was on the construction of a multi-purpose sports court (for volleyball and netball). This court is based at Chipata Community School where hundreds of children attend daily for education and sports. The area is a densely populated, sprawling community with 60% of its 150,000 inhabitants aged between 3 and 24. 80% of the population live on less than a £1 a day and unemployment runs at 90%. Therefore, Chipata Community School is a key driver for change in this area, educating the youth for better employment in the future.

Before they travelled to Zambia, the students were focussed on raising the £6,500 necessary to construct the court. Whilst in Zambia, the student’s main roles were to select a suitable contractor to build the court and negotiate a deal, as well as act as project managers throughout the construction process. This included submitting design proposals for the court, checking the construction quality and making sure the court was finished to their schedule. The path to completion was not an easy one for the students as there were many delays and issues during the project. Deliveries would take often take hours or days more than expected and it was difficult to manage with the language barrier. On one occasion, the workers had placed a hole for a volleyball post in completely the wrong place! Luckily, the team was on hand to correct them before the post sockets were cemented in. However, the team and contractors pulled through in the end as they were able to finish before leaving back to the UK. The team were really proud to finish the court before departing Zambia and have the opportunity to see local children play on the new surface.

Whilst in Zambia, the group also took on other responsibilities. This included repairing a pot-hole damaged court, helping to organise and run sporting tournaments, teach swimming to children and assist in citizenship style classes for school girls. The trip was a fantastic experience for all involved and gave an opportunity for both Zambian and personal development. The team has achieved a lot during their time in Zambia and are thankful for all the support they have received.

The team consisted of Rob Vine, MEng (Hons) Civil Engineering, Georgina Hutchings and Amy Donohoe MEng (Hons) Civil and Architectural Engineering, Simon Cox and Jack Trainor BEng(Hons) Civil Engineering and Ellish Barry MArch (Hons) Architecture

You can read more about the experiences of the ACE2Zambia team on their daily blog.