Last November in Uganda schools were about to close and holidays to start two weeks early because of the Ebola outbreak. The coaches of Hockey Dreams Foundation took it to themselves to raise awareness among children on the prevention of Ebola. The plan was to give this education at six schools to the students they normally train and who know them as their coaches. Coaches went out and about to get all the materials and got all the right information from the Ugandan Ministry of Health.

When the coaches arrived at the schools, they were requested to share this education with all the kids in the schools. The coaches were willing to do this and per school four coaches went to the different classes to inform all the students. They combined instructions, Q&A’s and quizzes to check if the students understood. They learnt a lot about the prevention of Ebola, about the symptoms and the seriousness of this disease.

Coach Okema: “kids asked questions after presentations and that showed me that they learnt a lot.” The schools were grateful to the coaches from Hockey Dreams. Teachers and principals see how coaches use sport to develop skills for everyday life, and this project also showed them that coaches care about the kids’ health. Students brought the insights, and the official flyers, with them to their families, so the information was shared in the communities.

After coaches finished this project in the schools, coach Raskara led the evaluation. All the questions for the evaluation were thought of by the coaches themselves. A great step in project management by the team and a good opportunity to reflect on their individual growth too. The outcome of this project for the coaches’ own learning was that it was a great build-up for their self-confidence.

As coach Doreen put it: “I learnt communication needs confidence.” And coach Stewart: “talking to kids in a classroom setting built my confidence. It helps me prepare to be able to speak in conferences in the future.”

Teamwork was key and the coaches learnt that they could do a lot more when they divide the work amongst them and that helps to plan well. A lot of coaches realised they were seen as a role model within the schools, often schools they attended themselves. Kids knew about Ebola but needed someone inspirational to talk about it. They saw how for example coach Teddy was looked at as a big role model in the school she went to. It also worked the other way around – coach Alimo: “I got inspired by the attention the kids gave me when I was talking to them.”

Coaches also experience how they can make a difference. Coach Raskara: “Identification of a need and finding a way to solve it, this built my decision-making abilities.” Coaches conclude that this project was a big success, with positive feedback from the teachers. The students, and the coaches, learnt a lot.

The Ebola outbreak started September 2022, restrictive measures were lifted in January 2023.
For more information: Uganda Ministry of Health, World Health Organization.