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St Andrews helps facilitate first Zambian National Sport Development Conference

Sports experts from the University of St Andrews are enroute to Zambia’s Olympic Youth Development Centre to help lead the first ever Zambian National Sport Development Conference, which will take place next week (27 July 2015 to 28 July 2015).

Part of the Wallace Group of seven of the best sporting universities in the UK, named after University of St Andrews Court member Professor Sir David Wallace, the University of St Andrews has contributed to the development of sport in some of the poorest communities in Zambia over the last ten years.

The conference will review progress to date as well as identifying future needs, and will be attended by Senior Government Ministers and officials. Primarily, the conference represents an important step in making development work both sustainable and of lasting benefit to the lives of young Zambians.

The conference also marks the tenth anniversary of the UK Sport IDEALS project, which has seen UK students travel to Zambia to volunteer on placements to coach sport and help develop coaching in the country. Taking place at the IOC sponsored Olympic Youth Development Centre, the event will also focus on influencing plans for the next decade of sports development in the country.

Stephen Stewart, Director of Sport at the University of St Andrews, who first initiated the conference and is on the organising committee, commented:

“I am delighted that after ten years of hard work by my colleagues and our students we have seen this conference come to fruition. This is a landmark moment for sport in Zambia, and we are proud to be playing our part.

“The conference will bring together representatives from Government, education, national sport federations and local communities, to jointly plan for the countries future sporting needs: for the first time we will be working to a plan developed by Zambians to meet those needs and aspirations.”

The International Development Through Excellence and Leadership in Sport (IDEALS) is a UK Sport funded programme set up in 2006, which aims to establish high-quality sports leadership development exchange opportunities for young people through short term volunteer placements with local grass-roots sports organisations.

The University of St Andrews has sent several students each year mainly to the capital city of Lusaka.  The students visit for six week periods in the summer, volunteering to coach and run sessions in football, volleyball, basketball and netball. Following the end of the IDEALS project each year, students from St Andrews stay for a further two weeks, living and working firmly embedded in the rural community.

The student volunteers fundraise thousands of pounds before going to work with sports leaders in the local community in an attempt to sustain sport throughout the year. Not only do the students deliver sport, but the sessions also act as a vehicle to present workshops on HIV and Aids awareness for local people.

Vitalija Lavreckyte, a third-year Geography student who went out on a placement in 2014, said:

“It was purposeful, immersive and full of new emotions that each and every of us enjoyed to bits. It was the most rewarding experience of my life; I am so grateful for the opportunity sport has provided and I really hope and believe that the St Andrews outreach programme will continue for many years.”


Notes to news editors 

For background on the University of St Andrews’ long-standing links with Zambia go to the University Sports website.

Background on Wallace Group Universities.

A conference photograph will be available from the Press Office on Tuesday. Contact Emma Shea, Deputy Director of Communications on 01334 462 167 or email proffice@st-andrews.ac.uk.

Follow the conference live on Twitter: @IDEALSWallaceGp and @SaintsSport.

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