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Football at the Fountain of Hope

Fountain of Hope is an orphanage based in Kamwala, Zambia. Fountain houses both boys and girls and currently has approximately 120 children living on the premises. The orphanage itself is a small compound with a mixture of wooden and concrete buildings sitting opposite the newly refurbished basketball court.

I was lucky enough to be allocated fountain as my morning placement, Monday to Friday, 9: 30a.m to 11:00a.m coaching football. The football pitch that fountain uses is a 5-minute walk from the compound and the participants are a mixture of children from Fountain itself, and local children from the surrounding area. Myself and my coaching partner Adam were greeted by Steven on our first day of placement. Steven grew up at Fountain of Hope and after over 10 years of coaching here, he has become the lead coach for the u17, u15. U12 and u10 football teams who train here every weekday. We were shadowing our first session and watched on as Steven, along with help from Jackson and Mary, two local players who coach alongside Steven, coached 60 children for an hour and a half. We instantly saw how different coaching would be in Zambia, in comparison to back home. It took a little time to get used to the fact that some children will be wearing football boots and others will be wearing flip flops, or often nothing at all on their feet. You also quickly become desensitised to the presence of rocks, broken glass and an array of litter on the pitch, you can then concentrate on the job at hand. Perhaps seeming slightly disorganised from a distance, once you immerse yourself within a coaching session at Fountain, you quickly realise what an incredible job is required on the part of both coach and players alike. The contrasting approach which is required out in Zambia, for example, the necessity to leave a group of children to train on their own once given instructions cannot be avoided at times due to the high participation rates, and lacking numbers of coaches. The children do an incredible job of organising themselves, following instructions and adapting the drills/games themselves when coaches are not readily at hand during a session.

The high participation rates at Fountain dropped dramatically in our 3rd week, as was expected due to school restarting. What was a session for 50 – 80 children in the first 3 weeks, quickly became 15 – 35 children per session. This was a lot more manageable but seemed slightly underwhelming after the stress and enjoyment of the higher numbers for the first 3 weeks.

Working at Fountain and getting to know the players and coaches alike has been an incredible experience, and I feel I will always have a home there. The honesty, openness and kind-hearted nature of all the people at Fountain is often hard to believe, when the individual circumstances of these individuals are taken into consideration. It really helps to put things into perspective and appreciate what you have in your own life.

Thank you to all involved with this project and at fountain who help to alleviate some of the stress and hardships that the children and young adults of this community face. You are all doing an incredible job. Zikomo.