Laura, 18, a BTEC Sports Coaching student in her second year at Hartpury, spent her half-term break volunteering at Kollegal Girl’s Home in India, teaching disadvantaged girls between the ages of four and 20 sports such as volleyball, athletics and baseball.
“You think that teaching children in England is tough, but over in India it’s an entirely different experience,” she said. “It really put my skills to the test as a coach and I learned so much from being there.
“A lot of the girls at the home were really talented sportswomen, with some even playing at a district level. Helping them to train and practice was a real honour.
“Learning how to adapt my coaching style and overcome cultural barriers was hard but I feel it’s improved me as a coach. I’ve learned a lot about myself and how I can use different methods in different situations to put my points across.”
Kollegal Girl’s Home provides girls from disadvantaged backgrounds with an opportunity to learn which they otherwise would not have had. Running since the 17th century, the home provides care and education for girls whose families are unable to provide for them.
Laura received a glowing tribute from them and has already been asked to go back next year to spend more time working with the girls.
A letter from the head of the home to Laura’s Hartpury tutors said: “Laura quickly threw herself into the task of winning over and then leading these children into an exciting few weeks of intensive activities. From day one she found herself surrounded by our children,
who warmed to her unique charm and friendliness. We have been amazed at her adaptability in crossing the many cultural and linguistic barriers as well as coping with such a diverse and somewhat difficult group of children.”
Laura added: “It was a nice surprise to receive the letter from the home once I’d returned to England. I’m glad I was able to make such an impact in a short space of time.
“I’d definitely recommend spending time teaching in different situations. I don’t necessarily mean spending time abroad but even something as simple as coaching different age groups or people from different backgrounds. It broadens your mind and gives you experience on which to build your coaching practices.
“I ended up using a lot of what I learned in my first year at Hartpury and spent a lot of time drawing on activities which we had practiced and tailoring them to suit the learning styles of the girls at the home.
“I used a method where you have to communicate using only gestures, no speech – it’s an exercise which is tough enough at home, let alone in an entirely different country but it ended up working really well and the girls loved it.”