Sports students from the Wigan Warriors Performance and Education Academy have once again jetted off to the Caribbean island of Martinique as part of an international Work Experience Project in sport.
In April 2017, a party of 14 travelled over to the island to work alongside partner organisations ‘Everything is Possible’ and ‘Youth in the Town’. Following a well planned two-week schedule, students and education staff were immersed in the local school and community cultures, whilst supporting delivery of sport coaching sessions to children and adults of all ages.
This year a lucky 13 have picked up the Wigan Warriors baton and will build on the foundations set by their college peers from last year. Students from current Level 2 and Level 3 sports programmes will learn all about the island’s history and heritage, take part in culture sharing activities and deliver a mix of sports coaching sessions to various groups across the island.
The Warriors Education Academy understands the importance of providing students with cultural enrichment opportunities to support social development alongside academic achievements.
Day One – Thursday 1st March
After a very early start, in fact a 3am meet at Central Park for all staff and students participating in this year’s project we landed safely and arrived at our accommodation some 17 hours and three airports later.
The students settled in very well, working through and creating their own house rules, under the guidance and recommendations from the teaching staff of course. The students understand that living together in each other’s pockets can and will be a big challenge to them all. They will learn and develop new independent skills around the house along with coping mechanisms as they go through this two-week work experience project.
With a long-day planned tomorrow and a 9am start it was an early night for everyone.
Day Two – Friday 2nd March
The group were surprisingly up out of bed before 8am. We had a morning meeting planned in to discuss and agree our house rules, the required behaviour and attitude, along with our overall project expectations. A positive discussion was had with good feedback and an agreed plan.
After our meeting we headed out to the local town of Le Robert so the group could stretch their legs and familiarise themselves with the Martinique culture. Students got to see how different the Martinique way of life is in comparison to Wigan and the UK in general.
We finished off the morning with a game of Tag Rugby on a multi sports pitch by the coast. We never expected to cut the game short due to rain!
In the evening 5pm – 8.30pm we attended a sports complex to help friend and project partner, Guenael, coach football sessions to children between the age of 7 – 12 years. Under floodlight, on a grass pitch, our students led different warm-up sessions for the young players, before passing them onto Guenael for their main activities. It was a good experience for our students, building self-confidence and learning how to communicate / translate their coaching points from English to French.
All this was achieved in the downpour that had started earlier in the day. Great character building!
Day Three – Saturday 3rd March
We were up early this morning, the group were ready to leave the house at 7.30am to meet our partners Youth in the Town for 8.00am. The session today was based down at the waterfront of Le Robert and was one of ‘Cultural Sharing’ between English and French/Martinique students.
The session was run by Emilie (Youth in the Town), bringing both groups together with the first task of introducing themselves by name, age, and favourite sport, but all in French!! A great effort under pressure from our students who then listened and watched patiently as the French students returned the compliment in English. The students mixed, broke off into small groups and were tasked with teaching each other words and sentences in their native language.
For the remaining part of the day, with temperatures approaching 30 degrees, the group headed for the beach on the west coast of the island. A popular tourist beach called ‘Ans Dufour’, where last year’s group got to swim with sea turtles that ventured into to the shallow waters. After a couple of hours swimming and snorkelling the group moved across to the adjacent bay and onto the beach ‘Ans Noir’, famous for its black volcanic sands.
Brilliant fun and a good way to cool off and a great way to end the day.
Day Four – Sunday 4th March
Today was a free day!
This means the group had no project sessions planned in. The group consensus was to ‘hit the beach’, so we decided to travel further along the south west coast to the beach ‘Grande Anse D’Arlet’. With its white sands and crystal-clear water, this was the perfect way for the students to relax, snorkel and have fun on their day off.
After spending a long sun soaked day at the beach, we headed home for a gourmet special of chicken and chips for our evening meal.
Day Five – Monday 5th March
Monday was an ‘Education Day’ based at the Martinique Institute for Sport, a facility complex created to accommodate the islands best athletes and provide sporting facilities to local schools and colleges. Education Days throughout the project weeks are very important to allow our students to keep up to date with their studies whilst away from our education academy.
Today was a mixture of a classroom-based session in the morning, followed by football for the afternoon. Our Level 2 students completed coaching session plans towards practice observations they are scheduled to perform tomorrow morning. The Level 3 BTEC students worked on their laptops, accessed the Warriors Education Management System and got on with completing assignment work towards their course.