I caught up with Laura Burroughs – party leader for Francis Holland School who just have just returned from a netball tour to Sri Lanka. At the start of our conversation Laura shares with me that she is still jet lagged and woke up at 4 am today “but it was more than worth it” she is quick to add.
She joined the school last year and this was the first trip she was in charge of organising. Naturally, she felt a bit of pressure. ‘After speaking to Jonatan (the schools local representative from inspiresport) it all seemed much easier’ she says, ‘He really adapted the tour to all of our needs and was very responsive”. She jokes about the number of emails she sent him, however, he was always happy to assist.
New found appreciation
The trip was more than a success. Laura seems overwhelmed on the phone and tells me she doesn’t even know where to start. One of the biggest changes she felt in the girls was the appreciation they had for the luck and fortune they have been given. “We played against a team of girls who had all lost their families after the 2004 tsunami. It was a really life-changing experience”.
Laura tells me about one of the girls who wasn’t particularly happy about the quality of the pitch upon seeing it. The same girl then apologised for what she had said. She felt embarrassed of her comment in the light of how inspirational the opposing team was considering all they had been through.
Laura talked about the unbelievable experience they had swimming with 120-year-old turtles. It was a day after visiting the turtle sanctuary that they went on an excursion and had a dip in the ocean. Laura shares how exceptional it was seeing the animals next to her and getting to swim with them. “It was an unforgettable time for all the girls!” – she says.
Among other notable things, Laura mentions the elephant orphanage they got to visit where they got to see the animals play in the water. The girls also went for a visit to a local tea factory where they met with the workers and learned about their lives.
One of the days, the team went to volunteer in the Rainbow Center – a place that provides education, welfare, medical treatment and love to children living in extreme poverty in Sri Lanka. It was a day of playing with and teaching the children there, that Laura reckons the girls from Francis Holland are going to cherish forever.
‘Their whole attitude changed with every passing day” – she shares. “They were talking to the opposing teams, learning more about their lives and helping them with their English”.
“Even though our flight back was so long all of them were buzzing with excitement the whole time. Upon returning the girls were keen to set up fundraising initiatives”
Would she recommend it?
I ask Laura what she would say to a colleague thinking of going on a similar tour. She stops for a second to think and goes on to say “It can be quite daunting in the beginning. I know I was a bit hesitant. But inspiresport helped us so much in every step of the way! Sharon who I was in touch with was always really helpful. The team traveled all the way from Cardiff to meet us at the airport, made sure we check in alright and just went above and beyond to make sure we have a pleasant journey.” Laura encouraged all teachers out there to “just go for it”. One thing that really convinced her was a girl in the school in Sixth form who had been on the same tour six years ago and shared this was the best thing she had done while in school.
For more information on our lonhghaul tours to Sri Lanka please visit: http://www.inspiresport.com/tours/long-haul/longhaul-sri-lanka/