The court has finally been completed! Apologies for the delay in posting, imsure you were all desperate to see it all finished! After 6 long weeks of hard work and supervision our efforts are finally over, we have officially handed over the court to Chipata Open Community School and Sport in Action and we are all safe and sound back in the UK. Safe to say that we have all had a fantastic experience out here and would thoroughly recommend this to anyone, even if we are all exhausted after a rather long journey after a busy final few days.
Wednesday started off the same as usual, with the long trek across town to the site with a long list of tasks to accomplish. It was the final day on site before the opening ceremony and handover, so everything had to be ready and in place before the big day. Luckily, all the hard work had been done already with only the small superficial jobs to be done. The remaining lines needed to be painted, the large sign to be erected, our small plaque needed installing in the mural and the site needed a good clean.
The day started off slow with us arriving and no workers to be seen on site at all, after a little investigation we found out their van had broken down and they’d be a little late to site. This coupled with the painter taking his time painting the lines to avoid spills meant that the morning was very slow progress.
As time pressed on and the list of things still just as long as it was at the start of the day, activity on site in the afternoon was noticeably quicker in the afternoon. The painting was finished soon after lunch, the workers arrived on site and started digging the foundations for the sign and we got down to installing the plaque. We naively assumed this would be an easy task.
After being told previously we could drill into the wall and screw it in, we weren’t able to find an extension cable that would reach which now seems an obvious necessity. Luckily we resorted to just nailing it into the blockwork wall, after recruiting some local kids to help search for nails we quickly found what we needed and proceeded to hammer it into the wall with rocks for hammers. After struggling to hammer it in for 45 minutes and finally getting it done, our nail searching kids came up to us again with a large handful of nails all collected from their sports field. Yet another reminder of why these children desperately need new facilities, at least now their fields are a handful of nails safer than it was.
The rest of the day went smoothly with the sign ready and the court looking polished and presentable ready for the opening ceremony in the morning. We arrived early and already there was a large group of excitable kids keen to see their new court in action, along with the local media where our very own Rob Vine made his debut appearance on Zambian TV!
After our media commitments were completed, the ceremony began. We all gathered on the side of the court, where speeches were given by the a school teacher, Frank the director of Sport in Action, ourselves and George from Sport in Action. All were thankful for the court they were receiving and called for everyone the treat the court well, highlighted the opportunities that this facility would bring to this community and above all else to enjoy the sports that they could play here. This was well finished with the ribbon cutting followed by a short demonstration from the local netball and volleyball teams.
On behalf of the A2Z team, I can say that this experience is one that we will never forget and we have all learned a huge amount, especially about patience. Not every day was a challenge, but when it was our problems were dealt with in a professional way and the results are clear to see with a well constructed court that was finished on time, well on time for our deadline of before we leave Zambia not quite in the deadline of 3 weeks initially stated by the contractor.
We would also like to thank all those who have been involved and helped with this project, the team back in the Sport in Action office including Frank, Mwappe and Geroge for all their support, all of you back at home who donated to the project especially the generous donations from Melanie Marshall, Wentworth House, Bath University, Stride Treglown and The Perfect Day Foundation, Davis Sikombe, the Contractor who showed dedication in providing a high quality court for us all, and most of all the local community in Chipata whose passion for sport is what has made this all possible.
Thank you all for reading and supporting, this will not be the final blog, I hope it is resurrected when the next group of students are drafted in! But it is a goodbye for now from the current team.
Simon, Rob, Eilish, Georgie, Amy and Jack.