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Volunteers return to Solomon Islands - Volunteer Service Abroad

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Solomon Islands will host the 2023 Pacific Games starting in November next year and is gearing up with the help of Kiwis.

Helen Egan, a professional coach in equestrian and national coach for the New Zealand Pony Club Association is packing her bags to fly to Solomon Islands on 18 May as one of Volunteer Service Abroad’s first volunteers to be deployed back into the country.

Based in Honiara, Helen will work with the Solomon Islands National Institute of Sport (SINIS) to support coach education.

As a Volunteer Service Abroad e-volunteer, Helen has been working with the Coaching Developers remotely from her home in Christchurch since October 2021. This has enabled Helen to build relationships over Zoom, but she knows coaches are active and relatable by nature, so she is looking forward to facilitating workshops in person very soon.

Helen was in Wellington last week as part of her extensive volunteer support provided by Volunteer Service Abroad before she heads away and says, "I’m excited to be going over to see the Coach Developers out delivering coach education to community and club coaches in the community and working with the coaches on scholarship at SINIS."

While volunteering remotely Helen provided interview questions and worked alongside the five SINI Coach Developers as they developed topics and facilitated workshops. The National Federations for each sport put coaches forward to be assessed for 30 positions within a new scholarship programme launched by SINIS. The coaches will receive training in holistic sports coaching from multiple sports professionals and will strengthen sports teams for the 2023 Pacific Games and far beyond for the country.

Helen is keen to spend more time developing female and para sport coaches. She sees it as a great opportunity for both her and people in the Solomon Islands and is looking forward to navigating the hurdles that comes with working across multiple disciplines and in a new cultural environment.

As a national coach who has worked around the world, Helen holds coaching qualifications from New Zealand, United Kingdom and Australia and is qualified to coach athletes who are living with a disability. She is currently an assessor for NZQA coaching courses but always thought she would one day volunteer with Volunteer Service Abroad, "when this role came up it really ticked all the boxes for me. An awesome way to support Solomon Islands to build a coach education programme that will bring huge benefits way beyond the Games."

Volunteer Service Abroad’s Solomon Islands staff eagerly await Helen’s arrival. The Solomon Islands landscape, air temperature and culture couldn’t be more different than the Canterbury Plains she leaves behind, but this Kiwi is excited to be part of a sports journey that will impact generations to come and contribute to a foundation for an exciting Pacific Games next year.

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