Sport and Exercise students making an impact in the Maldives

A group of ten UTS Sport and Exercise students accompanied by lecturer, Nathan Renwick, have just completed a three week trip to the Maldives where they taught soccer and netball clinics and ran swimming classes and sports injury workshops.  A wonderful time was had by all and below is an earlier update from the trip from student Melanie Boudib. More to follow once the team is back.

“Our travels began with 3 plane rides and a bus ride to our guesthouse, and after flying in at night, we are not at all prepared for what treasures lay before us on this island.

The 4.30am call to prayer wakes us from our air-conditioned slumbers, and marks the beginning of another day on an island full of colourful buildings and even more colourful locals, surrounded by impossibly blue waters . After months of anticipation, a week of frenzied packing, and a long 24 hours of travel, we are finally here.

Our first few days are full of exploring, and before we have even started teaching we’ve already toured the island with our gorgeous and hilarious in-country partner Suna and her husband Misbah, who is a never-ending fount of local knowledge and adventures. Then, of course, there is Bonda…Maldivian soccer star and the one who has consistently cracked us up with his quiet jokes and constant “Aahaaa”s. We’ve also played a soccer match in the local stadium, spent hours snorkelling the amazing reefs, visited the school we’ll be running sports camps and health workshops in for the next 3 weeks, launched ourselves into the stretch of ocean we’ll be teaching swimming in, and had numerous bike malfunctions which have just added to the adventure.

On our 3rd day it feels like we’ve known each other forever, and it’s finally time to start running the sports sessions. The kids are shy to start, but by the end of the 3 hours they’re running around happily. Despite the heat that sees us Aussies sweating rivers before noon, the soccer and netball stars on the court don’t want to stop, which is surely the sign of a morning well spent.

Our health workshops don’t start until after the weekend, so we have a nice long break in the middle of the day until swimming coaching starts. These hours are generally wiled away riding bikes, climbing coconut trees, fishing with the ‘Captain’, or playing ball in our front yard. Then it’s back to what I hesitate to call work, wading back in to the water to teach a younger group how to swim. It’s surprising to see the varied skill levels of the kids, but by the end of the second day we’ve found our groove and everyone’s having a lot of fun kicking, splashing, and laughing their way through the 2 hour lessons.

The first week here has been a constant adventure. We’ve played countless sports (a Human Movement student’s dream), ridden our bikes til the pedals fell off (literally), and we still have twice as long to go. Every night we exclaim how amazing this place is, and how long it feels like we’ve already known each other. We can’t wait to see what other treasures this island holds, and we’ve definitely befriended the right people to help us find out.

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