Nick Winn, Jamie Blackler, Tom Robertson, Alexa James

In 2019, four undergraduate students formed the ACE2Zambia team and this year we were challenged to construct two courts for the first time in the project’s history.

Before we set off to Zambia we managed to generate £17,150 to fund the construction of the two courts: paying for the materials, plant and labour of both courts. This was by far the largest budget A2Z has ever acquired in a single year so far. The funds were sourced from the following sponsors: Durham University, Perfect Day Foundation, The Wallace Group, Crowdfunding/Fundraising, Wentworth House Partnerships, University of Bath Alumni Fund and Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios. We also secured funds from The Happold Foundation to contribute towards our travel expenses.

Our primary project was to construct a multipurpose court at Fountain of Hope (FOH), to include both a basketball court and a netball court. FOH is a school and orphanage located around a 50-minute bus journey from our house in Kabulonga. This was a brownfield site and the old court in-situ was in deep need of rehabilitation. Our second project was to construct a netball court at Kiine School, Kaunda Square, approx. 40-minutes from our house. This is a new greenfield site managed by Sport in Action (SIA) and the court became the first piece of sports infrastructure in the community. Tom and Nick primarily managed the FOH project whilst Alexa and Jamie managed the Kaunda project.

The courts have added to the physical infrastructure which allows the work of Volunteer Zambia and SIA to take place, taking the total number of courts to 8. These spaces are used daily by children and young people from across the communities in which they are located, irrespective of their background. Children attend school for only half the day, but SIA works tirelessly to provide free netball, basketball, football and volleyball coaching as a means of keeping the children occupied and away from trouble. As well as staying healthy and active, children learn about teamwork, leadership and discipline. In addition, SIA uses sport as a pathway for development in health, education and other life skills such as business. The courts which we and other ACE2Zambia teams have previously constructed provide a defined “hub” from which all these activities can take place for many years to come.

Alongside the benefits this project brought to Zambian communities, children and labourers, we also managed to get two civil engineering students from the University of Zambia, William and Natasha, involved in our project. They visited our sites once or twice a week to learn about the construction process but also to assist the ACE2Zambia team in managerial and engineering challenges. They were also keen to get involved and negotiated with the Zambian contractors which helped us immensely as it removed the language barrier in complex tasks. The work they carried out also counted towards part of their master’s degree, showing the significant value that the University of Zambia places on projects such as ours. It was great having William and Natasha involved and we would definitely like to work with them or other University of Zambia students in the future.

The whole ACE2Zambia 2019 team greatly enjoyed the experience. Working as site managers in a developing country, we were challenged to adapt to a different culture of work. We successfully overcame multiple setbacks and delays in cases where materials and/or workmanship was substandard. The experience has certainly developed our skills in preparation for our professional careers.

William, Natasha and Nick
The children of Kiine School
The operatives that built the outdoor netball court at Kiine School