Sport and Health Sciences at Brighton

children holding hands in a circle on the beach

Students developing fair play in The Gambia

“It was honesty one of the best experiences of my life with the most lovely and brilliant group of university students and lecturers.” Harrison Smith

Twenty students from the university’s Physical Education with QTS, Sport Coaching, and Sport and Exercise Science degrees travelled to The Gambia to take part in a Football for Peace coaching project.

Football 4 Peace (F4P) was founded in 2000 with the belief that sport unites people across engrained social and political divides. F4P highlights the social and fraternal attributes of sport in such a way that those who participate not only develop sport specific knowledge, but most importantly adopt, practice, and endorse the fundamental principles of fair play and good citizenship.

The F4P coaching programme is designed to be especially effective in areas where civil society is fragile and there are high levels of community division and social conflict. Projects have taken place in countries including South Africa, Korea, Israel, Jordan and Ireland.

students and coaches chatting round a tableOnce in The Gambia the students quickly forged relationships with the coaches, and began to understand cultural differences, and similarities, and the context of the work they were doing. Students quickly learn the constraints that shape practice whilst ‘new’ Gambian coaches learnt the skills needed to sustain delivery of the F4P programme throughout the coming year.

Brighton students worked alongside the Gambian coaches in four Gambian villages each characterised by different cultural and religious histories. The excitement among the village children was immense and the team were greeted each morning with chants of ‘Football for Peace’ and a dash to the training fields.

coaching on the beachDespite the language barriers, with the help of the Gambian coaches and through the power of demonstrations, progress was rapid, and through witnessing the children develop, our students also had time to reflect and consider their own pedagogy.

students in a Gambian classroomThe students also had the opportunity to visit the local schools, tour the villages, meet Headteachers and the Village Elders. Education is a valued commodity and through experiencing approaches to classroom delivery, our students reflected deeply on their educational philosophies, professional identities, and how teaching is perceived in the UK.

The students also visited the Kartong Medical Clinic where medical supplies are limited and there is no access to clean water. They are challenges by a society where cultural traditions can be in opposition to science but they managed to run maternity services, GP consultations, and host dental services.

children playing football on the beach with the student coachesThe Gambian trip concluded with a festival where children from each of the communities joined teams made up of players from each village. The children interacted, supported each other, and forged cross-community bonds through the application of the values learned throughout the F4P coaching sessions.

Principal Lecturer Gilly Tiedeman who accompanied the students on the trip said: “The skill and teamwork of our students was a joy to behold as they led in the organisation and delivery of this fantastic event. Our students took every opportunity to learn and engage with this transformative experience – often through the medium of Gambian dance.

“I could not be prouder; they were curious, energetic, kind, and ultimate professionals who engaged with every opportunity to learn.”

Students were asked to choose photos from the trip that meant the most to them – here are some of our favourites:

Laura Heaffey

the students surrounded by children“This was the last training day we had in our village. This picture represents just how popular Football 4 Peace is and how much impact it has.

“Having the kids turn up everyday looking forward to the sessions and remembering us from the previous days was very impactful.“

Eve Percival

group of student and Gambian coaches on the beach“After less than 24 hours in the Gambia, we met the people we would be working with for the week. They welcomed us with open arms and no hesitation and treated us like one of their own. There was no time to be shy or reserved.

“We knew we were working towards a common goal, to use sport to break down barriers and if it worked for us as adults, we could see how it would be possible to pass this bond onto the children we would be working with.”

three students with children on their shouldersMolly Wingate 

“Getting to spend 5 days with children who deserve the world and more, watching them learn, grow and understand our values was so touching.

“The bond we all built with the children were ones that will stick with everyone single one of us for the rest of our lives.”


Rosie Maton

huge group of children and students in front of a goal on the beach

“This is my favourite picture from the trip. The F4P coaches and the children from the communities all together. An unforgettable experience!”

Josh Blackburn

Josh with smiling children looking down at the camera“I think the smiles all around just sum up how everyone felt on the trip. It was an absolute joy to teach the kids as they were so happy for us to be there and made us feel welcome by breaking into a song or even sometimes dancing just to lift everyone’s moods. They also found an interest in our hair and tattoos!

“This photo gives me a sense of pride because growing up I was very introverted and was scared to get stuck into the unknown and this trip pushed all of us out of our comfort zone going to a place where the majority haven’t been and teaching/inspiring kids who are less fortunate than us.” 

Isabella Minder

student chatting to one of the Gambian children“This lovely little girl, Mariama, asked me if I could help her understand the meanings of each value so we sat down, wrote down each value and went through each one.

“She took the piece of paper home and studied them.

“Throughout the rest of the week her hand went up every time a question was asked and she worked so hard it was amazing to see.”



Learn about studying sport and exercise at the University of Brighton.

Kerry Burnett • 21/05/2024

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