A spotlight on: St Lucia

With recruitment underway for Sports students travelling to St Lucia in June, we sat down with Emma Tustin, to learn about this summer’s trip..

In June 2023, 10 students from SGS College travelled to St Lucia for a month, to work on sports coaching placements. The partnership was developed by an ex-student of the College, Joel Martin, who is now the Director of United Through Sports in St Lucia.

Unique access to elite level players

Emma Tustin, Adult Education Lead at SGS College, accompanied the group to St Lucia. She explained that students gained first hand coaching experience as well as being involved with elite teams.

They were responsible for designing small, inclusive games, and were leading sessions. They were looking at fundamental physical literacy – balance, coordination, communication skills, trying to embed as many different elements as possible into each game.

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Once a week they would have different opportunities to observe national teams practicing. They were able to see the national elite team set up, and understand the ways these organisations operate. It was amazing to get this access to elite players. You wouldn’t get a chance to have this access at an elite level in the UK.

Exposure to new sports and opportunities within the industry

The placements were diverse as Joel (and United Through Sport) have unique access to different organisations and networks. 

The national rugby team was preparing for upcoming tournaments. The SGS group were invited to train against them each week. They played a mixture of games against the under 18, male and female national squads. 

Students were able to gain skills in new sports as well as gaining a broader understanding of opportunities within the industry.

Open water swimming is not something that would be readily available as a placement in the UK. At the sports camps, students were teaching basic survival skills; how to swim/paddle in water.

It really opened the students eyes. We take it for granted that most people can swim. People there don’t have access to swimming lessons, we are so fortunate here to have the access to facilities and equipment. 

Some students also had the opportunity to join the physio clinic and shadow the physios. Some are interested in sports therapy, either within the industry or pursuing university degrees in this area. The physio clinics are open to the public and to sports players across the island. UTS invited players from the national rugby team to attend the physio clinic. It was really helpful for students to observe people in a professional role.

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Learning to adapt

Our students have learnt how to adapt sessions for young people with additional needs. It was nice to see students automatically taking initiative and adapting their communication to account for different learning styles. They learnt how to engage with and encourage participation from shy and quiet students.

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Worried parents

As this was the College’s first trip to St Lucia, parents were initially anxious about safety and different culture. They were reassured that there were staff in place to support with different issues and it really helped for them to see photos of what the group were up to each day. We encouraged participants to communicate with their parents about what they were doing, to allay any concerns. Some students had never travelled independently before, or long haul, so we needed to support them at each stage – preparing them for things like jet lag, for example.

It helped that Joel (Director of United Through Sports in St Lucia) was a former student at SGS College, so he had a good understanding of what students are going through and the day to day life at the College. He has a unique understanding of both the UK and St Lucia and could really help with recommendations of where to eat and what to do in their spare time. He was also able to anticipate some of the challenges that may come up, in terms of cultural differences and guide participants through these.

You can read Emma’s full story here and can also read a full account from Alex and Mollie, some of last year’s participants.

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