Nathan Renwick was the lucky lecturer tasked with the responsibility of accompanying a group of UTS Sport and Exercise Science students on a three week project in the Maldives. Here he reflects on the first two weeks of the program;
“It’s hard to believe we have been in this beautiful country for just over 2 weeks now. Everyone is having a great time and has bonded very well.
Soccer (Football) Clinics
The sports coaching clinics with the kids from the local schools have been well received to date. The boys all play soccer and most are unbelievably talented. I don’t know why there are not more talent scouts for professional teams in places like this, as we have noticed a handful of kids with amazing natural abilities who I hope are given opportunities at higher levels as they develop.
We have been blessed to have the presence of ‘Bonda’, a former professional footballer who had a full-time career with the Maldives National team spanning over 14 years. In terms of football in this country, there are not many bigger names in the game, and it has been great getting to know him outside of football, plus to see his abilities and talents when playing various games / drills with the kids.
The field used by the boys for the soccer clinics is quite impressive. It is a full size artificial grass surface that was built by FIFA a few years back. The field itself is in good condition, however the surrounds need a bit of maintenance – not that it really seems to worry the kids!
The Netball coaching has been well received from the girls also. All the kids started off quite apprehensive and shy, accompanied by very basic skill sets. Netball is only relatively new to this country, so the kids need a fair bit of guidance when it comes to learning the rules, skill development and tactics for games. The girls are now playing Netball games at quite a high standard and we hope that another week of training will continue to see their abilities progress into even higher levels.
The swim coaching has been a highlight with everyone who has been involved to date. We have structured these sessions with 3 x groups, where the kids were graded on their abilities on day one (beginner / intermediate / advanced). There is a real sense of achievement after every session, and most days it is a challenge to drag the students out of the water once the teaching sessions have finished. There has been a wide variety of abilities and age groups attending, but it has been pleasing to see everyone grow in confidence and improve their ability to some degree. It still amazes our students how these local people are surrounded by some of the most spectacular waterways and snorkelling opportunities seen anywhere in the world, yet a high majority of the population cannot even swim 10m independently. We hope that this will change as these students progress through our program and future programs.
This week saw the students deliver 3 x Sports Injury Workshops to the local sports club leaders. These workshops ran for around 2 hours per session over a 3 day period, and we divided them into the following topics areas:
- Injury Prevention
- Acute management of sporting injuries / first aid
- Rehabilitation of sporting injuries
Again these workshops were well received by those who attended, and it was good to see how the students were able to modify their approaches when dealing with extremely limited resources compared to back in Australia. We have 3 x workshops covering nutrition topics next week.
Meeting With The Mayor
On another day last week, several students (plus myself) were fortunate to be invited to a meeting with the local Mayor and his deputies in his board-room at the local Council Offices. It was very formal but a memorable occasion for all who attended, and he was very warm in welcoming us to his Atoll. He was extremely grateful for the work that we are all doing here, and he wished us nothing but good health and a safety whilst we are visiting in the Maldives.
Nathan (back row, second from right ) with the ten students and two local staff at the soccer stadium