Student Juliette is pitch perfect in Kenya
Press release issued: 31 October 2011
A Bristol University student has been sowing the seeds for a lasting Olympic legacy in Kenya, building sports pitches as part of the city’s growing relationship with the African country.
Umoja, the Swahili word for 'togetherness', is a charity established to foster sporting, educational, cultural and commercial links between Bristol and Kenya ahead of next year's Olympic Games in London, with the entire squad from the east African country basing themselves in the city for their pre-Olympics training camp.
Bristol University has strong links with Umoja because its chairman Bob Reeves is the former Director of Sport Exercise and Health at the University, having worked there for over two decades until his recent retirement.
Juliette, who is studying for a masters in Geology, found out about the expedition through an advert at the University's gym and jumped at the chance to take part.
Along with her fellow volunteers from Filton College and the University of the West of England, they completed a football pitch, two netball pitches, a volleyball pitch, a cricket pitch and a long jump track and pit for the local community to use.
Juliette said: “Choosing to go to Kenya on the first Bristol sports development expedition was without doubt the best thing I’ve ever done. I'd wanted to do work abroad for a while and this looked perfect for me as I love sports coaching.
“We spent our mornings doing work to improve sports facilities in the area, which are so important as sport is one of the only things that brings the community together, which was plain to see at the Fun Run and Sports Festival that we organised.
“Although we were there to help and teach them, we ended up learning so much more from them, although they may not have realised it. They taught us not to take for granted the things we do have in life, and that it is people, not possessions, that can truly bring you happiness.”
The Umoja Bristol Kenya Partnership was formed in 2008 as a result of the friendship between Bob Reeves and Kip Keino, the renowned Kenyan track and field athlete and two-time Olympic gold medalist who is currently president of the Kenyan Olympic Committee and a senior member of the International Olympic Committee
He was among the first in a long line of successful middle and long distance runners to come from the country and has helped and inspired many of his fellow countrymen and women to become a strong force in athletics.
Bob Reeves said: “The Bristol Kenya Partnership has 20 schools in Bristol twinned with 20 schools in Kenya. It’s a city-wide project and this first expedition saw students from across Bristol going out to poor communities in eastern Kenya and doing things of real value.
“Everyone has said that it was a trip of a lifetime and their abiding memory is of working with young people and making a real difference. It’s been a real success and we now hope to make it an annual event.”
- Juliette’s written about her experiences for the front page of the latest newspaper produced by Camps International, who organised the expedition in partnership with Umoja. Camps International is coming to Bristol University on 7 November to talk about next year’s expedition. The talk is at 5.30pm in the lecture room of the Centre for Sport Exercise and Health and all are welcome.