Sport and Health Sciences at Brighton

The Gambia Football 4 Peace Experience

Student James Connelly on his life-changing experience in The Gambia:

Football 4 Peace was something that I had always dismissed in my first two years at the University of Brighton as a programme for footballers that wanted to go to a foreign country and coach football. However when mid-way through year two in my Sports Coaching degree I was offered the chance to join the programme and travel to the Gambia in the coming December I became interested as thoughts of a continent I had never visited raced through my mind. ”

“After speaking to Jim Wallis, the Sport Coaching Course Leader, I jumped at the chance to do something a bit different; something new on my CV apart from the same tennis coaching experiences. I can safely say I made a great decision by joining the cohort that travelled to the Gambia and it was an experience that has changed and influenced decisions I have made in year three, and decisions I hope to make in future years as well.”

Values based coaching was not something I had looked into in depth before travelling to The Gambia and even after training days with the Football 4 Peace programme I was still unsure as to what I would really be doing. The five days that I was in the Gambia changed my outlook on not just coaching, but also trust, responsibility, friendship and life in general.”

“Working with local trainee coaches, I formed some great bonds with some great people with whom I am still in contact with and I know that they are thankful for the work we did with them. Likewise, I learnt a lot from them as well and at many times throughout the five days I felt like a trainee to them in a culture I was unfamiliar with.”

“The children that I worked with did not have much in teJames  Connellyrms of material objects, but in terms of life skills they were resourceful, respectful and unbelievably proud of their family and friends as well as their history and community, and these were qualities that amazed me and challenged my own morals and values that I hold strong in coaching and what I want to do with my coaching.”

Find out more about the Football 4 Peace programme which was founded by the University of Brighton.

Kerry Burnett • 03/03/2014

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