Zambia 5050 blog – how I helped Adam Peaty swap swimming for basketball

16 August 2017

University of Bath student Jake Samuel is part of the organising team for the Zambia 5050 charity challenge, a fundraising campaign led by Olympian Mel Marshal and Olympic swimming champion Adam Peaty to create sporting opportunities for some of Africa’s poorest children.

Marshal and Peaty, along with their team, are undertaking ten hours of sport with children each day for five days at five different locations in the capital city of Lusaka and its surrounding communities with the aim of raising £50,000.

Samuel, who studies Sports & Social Sciences, is in Lusaka helping to deliver the logistics of the programme as part of the annual Volunteer Zambia project involving universities in the Wallace Group of UK Higher Education Institutions.

He is providing a daily blog from Zambia on the challenge, which started today with the first sport…

Day 1- Kabwata- Basketball

So the day had finally arrived, and having met the group of people undertaking the challenge including Mel Marshall and Adam Peaty the day before, I felt confident the day would go well. Well I was hoping it at least as I have put five weeks of solid work in the preparation of the event.

We all woke up at 6 am which was a massive struggle for me as I was already pretty tired from all the last-minute work I had been putting in. Anyway, I had the staple breakfast of cornflakes, a couple of pieces of toast and an apple, which set me up for the day.

Next came the double checking of all the equipment and kit which Lisa Wainwright, the CEO of British Basketball, had brought out with her, which included balls, NBA Cares t-shirts and NBA team shirts. Once that was done, the interesting packing of the bus followed, which in a very small mini-bus to fill with 10 other people, was an extra challenge in itself on top of the one we were all about to put on.

Once at the site, there was still plenty to do before the 8am start for the 10 hours, such as setting out the chairs, rolling out the mats, setting up the skill development session stations and making the site look presentable for all of the delegates arriving for the launch of the challenge and the opening of the site, which was built with the money Mel raised back in 2012.

We managed to get it all done in time and the only thing that was slow was Mel’s group in arriving with 10 minutes before the start! So I quickly got them out of the bus and ready to play. The day is centred around them playing with 120 Zambian children a day but with Zamtime a big influence on proceedings, I knew the children wouldn’t arrive on time, so we got started anyway with a shooting session lead by JP (Northumbria student). The children eventually arrived 45 minutes later, to which we handed them all Cares t-shirts before the defensive session, which looked absolutely awesome.

Once the day was up and running my job was to keep the local people watching from joining in the sessions as we had a specific set of children that came from the Sport In Action (SIA) placement sites, as well as making sure the rotation between skill stations and life skill stations went smoothly. There only turned out to be one of these as the media launch went on for a while. The launch included us volunteers singing the national anthem, of Britain of course, as well as speeches from the president of SIA, the deputy commissioner of the British High Commission, the minister of sport for Zambia, Mel herself and one of the participating children.

Following this my time at Kabawata took a break at around 1.30pm as I needed to make sure the site for the next day was set up, including looking at the kit the children were going to wear, as well as the boring stuff of checking the portable toilets and the sites is clean. The hard thing is that nothing can be done the day before in terms of setting up as it is risky time to have equipment lying around at night. So once myself, Molly (student volunteer) and George (SIA staff member) had looked round we heading back to the site which brought us to 4pm.

When we arrived the plan I had set out was not being followed as the children had got really tired and didn’t want to play any more, a problem JP solved by getting us volunteers and the SIA staff to play against Mel’s team. We ended up coming out on top and it has given me the idea to create a series of games between ourselves and Mel’s team over the course of the five days.

When the ten hours were completed at 6pm, we were all having a brilliant time and were on a high from the success of the day. The groups all came together at the end to help clear before heading back to our respective houses for the evening. Well, almost – we spent a couple hours at Nandos getting some rest and well-needed food and water on what was a very hot day. So now I must keep going and plan for tomorrow which will be another cracking day I am sure.

Donations to Zambia 5050 can be made by texting MELZ17 £10 to 70070 or visiting

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