Is a volunteer sports coaching programme in Jamaica right for me?
Are you passionate about sports and fitness? Do you enjoy working with children? Looking for an international sports coaching experience? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then this volunteer project is the right one for you.
Not only will you be helping children in disadvantaged communities to develop their skills, but you will also gain valuable work experience in a different cultural setting. Volunteering as a sports coach in Jamaican schools is a great addition to your CV, particularly if you’d like to pursue a career in the field.
You don’t need previous coaching experience to join. This can be professional coaching experience, or simply personal experience participating in certain sports and athletic activities. Bear in mind that you will be working fairly independently, so you will need at least an intermediate knowledge of a few different sports. You will also receive a thorough induction upon arrival, so that you arrive at your placement prepared.
You do need to be at least 18 years old to join this project, and stay for a minimum of two weeks. This project is available year-round. Start and end dates are flexible, so you can choose a time that suits you. However, we do encourage volunteers to stay for longer, as you can make a greater impact during your stay. Please be aware that schools close from late June to to August and in December.
English is the official language, and is used in schools. As such, you need to be comfortable having a conversation in English.
What will I do on this project?
Your main role is to help with physical education classes and sports training at local schools. Here are some of the things you can get up to:
- Teach children a variety of different sports
- Run students through all aspects of sports training
- Teach off-field sports information such as nutrition and game rules
You can coach children in a variety of different sports on this placement. These include:
Please note that some of these sports run at different times of the year. For example, athletics takes place from from January to March. Cricket is from March to mid-June, and football and netball run from September to November.
You’ll help students to develop their skills, and learn about the game. For example, hockey is a fairly new addition to the sports schedule, so you may also end up teaching the local staff. You might also take on the role of assistant coach for different school teams during their home and away games.
Run students through all aspects of sports training
There is more to sport than simply playing the game! You will take players through warm-up drills to prevent injury, assume the role of umpire and marshall, and focus on developing specific skill sets among the children. This gives the students a holistic sporting experience, and gives you insight into the different roles of a sports coach.
Teach off-field sports information such as nutrition and game rules
Sports development off the field is just as important as developing athletic skills. You will give presentations about the importance of exercise and nutrition and teach skills such as sportsmanship, motivation and accountability. You’ll also help students to learn about the rules and history of their chosen sport. This is a great way to gain even more sports coaching work experience while in Jamaica.
Where in Jamaica will I work?
You will be based in Mandeville, a centrally located town for convenient travel to other areas of interest. It is around a two to three hour drive from the capital Kingston. While a fairly small town, it has all the amenities you might need. These include convenience stores, restaurants and banks.
You’ll work in local primary, junior high, or high school in disadvantaged parts of the town. Our main partner is a local high school with around 700 students, but only four physical education teachers.
During your leisure time on weekends, we encourage you to take advantage of all that the island has to offer. There is something for everyone, whether you enjoy culture and history, or adrenaline sports and spending time in nature. Why not explore some of Jamaica’s incredible waterfalls, beaches and lagoons?
A typical day on the School Sports Project in Jamaica
After enjoying breakfast at the home of your friendly host family, you’ll travel to your placement via a shared taxi. On your first day, a Projects Abroad staff member will accompany you to show you the way. You will either be working at a primary, junior high or high school in the area.
A typical day on the sports coaching programme runs from 8am - 2pm, Monday to Friday. If you would like to work on after school training sessions and attend matches, you will stay until 5pm. You will have your weekends and evenings free to travel or relax.
You’ll spend your day running physical education classes for different groups of children. The activities you do will vary according to the season. For example, cricket in spring and summer and football and netball in autumn and winter. Many of the schools have limited resources, so you may need to be creative.
When you’re not coaching specific sports, you may find yourself helping to prepare for sports days or school competitions. There is also the opportunity to combine this work with a Teaching Project. Teaching will let you spend part of your day in a classroom, helping students improve their literacy.
Once you’re done for the day, it’s time to learn more about the local way of life. Spend time getting to know your host family, or join in on one of our regular volunteer socials. These events are a great way to get to know your fellow volunteers and Projects Abroad staff. During your time off, you can bask on the idyllic beaches, sample traditional cuisine such as jerk chicken or ackee and saltfish, and take part in activities such as mountain trekking and scuba diving.
What are the aims and impact of volunteer school sports coaching in Jamaica?
The main aim of this project is to support the local Physical Education teachers and enhance the children’s athletic learning.
Many schools in Jamaica have a high student to teacher ratio. This means that the local Physical Education teachers are simply unable to cope with so many students, or run very effective training sessions.
As a volunteer, you will be an extra pair of helping hands. Students can be divided into smaller groups, which means that sports classes are more focused and productive.
The country has also long struggled with high levels of poverty and unemployment, although things are improving. This has led to a number of social ills, such as violence and teenage pregnancy. Sport is an ideal way to keep children occupied in a fun, healthy way and teaches them important skills such as teamwork and dedication.
Join us in Jamaica and work in disadvantaged schools to encourage children to have fun while playing sports and getting fit.
Measuring our impact
Our projects work towards clear long-term goals, with specific annual objectives. Every volunteer and intern we send to these projects helps us work towards these goals, no matter how long they spend on our projects.
Every year we take a step back and look at how much progress we've made towards these goals. We put together a Global Impact Report, which documents our achievements. Find out more about the impact our global community of volunteers, interns and staff make, and read the latest report.
Leisure activities and free time
When you think of the tropical Caribbean, Jamaica is one of the first countries that comes to mind. With its white-sand beaches and vibrant culture, this island nation has a lot to offer. It’s an amazing location to volunteer in, and explore during your free time.
The local cuisine is definitely worth trying, with tasty dishes like Jamaican patties and jerk chicken. You can enjoy these at seaside restaurants and then head down to the sea for a cooling swim in the ocean.
With a rich culture and friendly locals, exploring markets and museums is a must-do. Visiting the famous Bob Marley Museum in Kingston makes for an enlightening weekend trip. While you’re there, you can also tour Fort Charles and the National Heroes Park.
There will be other volunteers working on different projects in Jamaica while you’re there. This means you can choose to explore independently or connect with other volunteers and travel as a group.
Safety and staff support
Your safety and security is our prime concern. We have many procedures and systems to ensure you have the support you need to enjoy your trip with peace of mind. Our Projects Abroad staff are available 24 hours a day to help, and will be on-hand to make sure you settle in well at your accommodation and placement. If you encounter any problems, they will be available to help at any time.
Find out more about safety and backup.
Meet the team in Jamaica
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