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Emily’s Experience at the Mtendere Netball Hub

During my time here in Zambia I have been placed at Mtendere netball hub, which has been a thoroughly enjoyable experience. Mtendere has been a hub site for over a year now and feels very well established. In my opinion Mtendere is an exemplary hub site. Each Monday they have a meeting in which all the coaches and peer leaders attend to discuss both positive and negative things about the previous week. They also plan what each site will focus on and discuss upcoming events such as friendlies and tournaments. This also provides an opportunity for all the members of the hub site to meet, encouraging the sense of cohesion between all the schools involved in the hub site. Gideon is the main face of the hub who has a firm grasp of the principles of the project and encourages the peer leaders to get on board with ideas and concepts which are introduced to the table. Each member of the hub have been assigned different roles, for example Erico is the communications manager. Erico attends every session of the week, plans the tournaments and runs the meetings. He even produces the agenda for the meeting, and provides snacks! Erico has been a really important part of my experience here; he meets me every day and walks with me to placement, introducing me to the peer leaders and teachers I work with and also buys me bananas each week! There are 6 schools involved in the hub with differing abilities, they all train at their own site and have different peer leaders. Personally my favourite school is Kalikili, where I work with Mirium, a peer leader.  Kalikili is a 40 minute walk from the house and is a really densely populated compound, I really enjoy this walk, the compound has a great sense of community, and is always really busy even at 8:30am! We are frequently greeted on our walk by friendly faces and see lots of women collecting water. Although the kids at Kalikili are not of the highest standard of netball they are really keen to learn and have a lot of respect for their peer leaders. In addition there is a lot of potential which even during the 6 weeks I have been here I have seen to be unlocked.

The best players from each hub site form the talent teams. There is an U15 and an U18 talent team supporting the pathway from the hub sites to the talent team. The talent team show a really high standard and train each week on a Tuesday afternoon. During our trip we organised a friendly against the Fountain of Hope talent team and travelled there on the Sport in Action bus. Mtendere were keen to play on the new court at Fountain, built by the Bath Build 2019. This was a really enjoyable afternoon, with an impressive standard of play. At the end we even played in a staff vs students match where all the peer leaders, coaches and volunteers played against a mixed Fountain/Mtendere team which was good fun! We have also helped Erico to organise a tournament for the last week with all 6 teams involved.

In some ways Mtendere has been a challenging placement as it is already quite established with plenty of individuals involved and therefore difficult to find a way to improve it. However I have tried to improve their punctuality by making the session times stricter, this is something that is challenging within the Zambian culture. Overall however this placement has been extremely enjoyable and has also helped me to find direction to help other placements.