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Zambia 2018 Tour

Hurstmere School and the Tag Rugby trust partnered once again for another successful tour to Zambia which ran from July 6th 2018 – July 20th 2018. 14 Hurstmere students took part and were a mixed group of Year 10 and Year 11 students. As always, one of the main aims of the project is to introduce and develop Tag Rugby in underprivileged areas, hopefully leaving a self-sustaining programme as we have done in previous tours. This year, we were able to coach 485 Zambian children over the course of a week, and ran an extremely successful festival at the end of the week. The festival included 16 teams from the following Zambian schools; Shikowse, Kasenji, Holy Saviour and Kalendu View. This program was run by the Hurstmere students who worked alongside 15 Zambian Young Leaders, some of whom won’t have even played the game prior to our arrival. This year, the Hurstmere pupils were already quite skilled in (add what they’d done with Trev & Robbo) and therefore they were able to really teach the Zambia Young Leaders what Tag Rugby is all about.  This not only meant lots of fun Tag Rugby games, but a lot of skilled Zambia Young Leaders who were committed to continue coaching others after we return home.

A very important aspect of every tour is for the current Hurstmere students to understand and see the impacts that previous tours have had. This year’s students were taken to Joseph Linda compound where previous projects have had, and continue to have, a lasting impact. The Joseph Linda compound does not receive any government funding and struggles for basic necessities. Previous tours have worked very closely with this compound with the aim to sustainably improve the lives of those who live there. The students saw the water tower (which was funded by a non-school uniform day) which is providing water to their science classrooms, toilet block and to the local community. The water tower is now one of three water towers which are providing water for over 15000 people. Alongside this, tours of the school really showed the boys the impact of volunteering and fostered a real desire to “do more” when we get home.

This year we were able to paint a classroom at Holy Saviour School which is a school that receives very little government support. Spending time in that classroom and the school was not only a privilege but a real eye opener into the facilities we have at home and how much we take them for granted. We were also able to explore a new compound called the Zambia Compound looking for new schools for future projects. We were successful in locating several schools and we were fortunate enough to find Twatashi school which is a school that caters for children with disabilities. In Zambia, there is still a stigma attached to disability so the students here are often overlooked and rely on local volunteers for their education. We were able to spend a few hours interacting with the students and introducing them to Tag Rugby. This was an incredible experience for all involved and we found it really difficult to say goodbye to those amazing children and their teachers.  

The tour was a resounding success and we are extremely proud of the effort our pupils put in and the impact that they have had in Zambia.

Ben Luxford Quote

For me, there was a lot of memorable moments of this trip that I don’t think I will ever forget. One of these was on the first day of coaching when we arrived to the school grounds. What was so memorable was the way the children sprinted over to the bus we were in as soon as they saw it. This surprised me because we were going to be with them for a while and yet they still wanted to be the first to see and speak to us.

Even when leaving, they would hold onto the back of the bus to try and stop us, despite the fact we would be back the very next day. Meeting the young leaders we were going to be working with was something else. Chatting, playing, learning, coaching and flipping with them (the fear on the teachers faces!) was really special and despite certain language barriers, they made it very easy for us to feel welcome and at home in Zambia. Another memorable moment was when early on in the trip we went to visit a compound where he school had worked before. The plan was just to look around and see how the previous work was still being used to this day. However, we saw some children playing with a football and went to join them. It wasn’t even close to an actual game, it was more like ‘keep ball’ but the kids seemed to enjoy it so much and so did we.  Also, another great moment was when we had the chance to train with a local rugby team that one of the young leaders from a previous trip had set up. They are now a fully functioning team who are in a local league and play fairly regularly. It was amazing to train alongside them and see how good they were, despite the fact some of them hadn’t been playing very long. It was strange how friendly and accepting all the locals were over there; they had no problem at all with us joining in there training and even teaching them a few new drills/exercises they could do, all of which they listened to and took on. Obviously, the safari was also brilliant, and seeing lions hunting really topped it off. I didn’t expect it, but we all got closer as a group and that lead to some very funny moments as well. Being stuck on a train track with a train coming in was also pretty funny! I could keep on but as a whole, the trip really was amazing and truly is the kind of thing I would like to do again if given the chance.