Overseas Sports Programme
Dan graduated in philosophy and economics from University College London. He initially went to Ghana on a GAP SPORTS programme to do football coaching. However, while he was out there, he also got involved in teaching English at the football academy where he was based. He taught a variety of subjects including English, science and maths.
What was your motivation in applying?
Charitable – a lot of people go for a purely personal experience, but I wanted to contribute my skills. Also, going out to Ghana post-university meant I was more mature and academically stronger. I wanted to help people less advantaged than myself.
What did the application process involve?
I submitted an application form. There was no ruthless cross-examination, instead you were asked about your background and your personal motivation.
What did you do?
I did a combination of football coaching and teaching. I did two or three hours teaching at a local school or at the academy. Then I coached another local team in the evening. My days were packed, but you don’t have to do that – it was my choice. I worked four days a week and I spent my spare time hanging around with local kids at the academy and playing more football!
How did you sell the experience on your CV?
In advance of going, I mentioned it on my CV. I had a job lined up with Accenture when I returned from Ghana where I worked for several years. After moving from Acenture I have been referencing my experience and current involvement too. I am heavily involved in the charitable arm of GAP SPORTS and it plays a key figure in my CV. I took six months out of my time from Accenture to do some pro bono work for them, to help develop their IT systems.
Did you enjoy it?
Absolutely. It was the first time I got to live with a different community and different culture. You have to go out to Africa and see it first hand. People are incredibly bright and positive in Ghana.
What did you learn?
It was a combination of things. There was a real cultural exchange, finding out a lot more about Africa as well as developing interpersonal skills, especially with kids. It also confirmed my interest in helping out communities and it cemented my idea of how I was going to contribute long term.
The community – GAP SPORTS puts a heavy emphasis on working with other volunteers, as well as getting involved with the wider community. On the programme volunteers can contribute as much as they want and I liked that flexibility.
The worst part is the deprivation – it’s a shock compared to what you would see on the average English street. I attended three funerals in one evening; seeing people die young is the hardest thing to accept.
What advice to readers do you have?
Before you go, read up on the standard medical requirements and get as much information about the country as you can. When you get there be prepared to get involved with the group and try to stay social.