Kingston University geography students kit out youngsters in Fulham Football Club strip during South Africa field trip

Posted Thursday 31 March 2016

Kingston University geography students have put their expertise into practice during a field trip to South Africa. The students, who were in Cape Town to study and assist with local development projects, took the opportunity to kit out a group of delighted youngsters in £2,000 worth of brand-new Fulham Football Club strips.

The kits, handed out to the winners of a recycling competition in the township of Village Heights, were donated by Fulham as part of the University's link-up with the Championship club over a range of sport and education initiatives.

Each year, final-year undergraduate students from Kingston University's Department of Geography and Geology have the opportunity to embark on an international field trip. It allows them to apply the experience and knowledge they have gained during their studies to an unfamiliar environment, as well as help improve the lives of residents in areas they visit.

This year's group of 42 students, accompanied by academics Dr Stuart Downward, Dr Peter Garside, Dr Annie Hughes and Dr Tracey Coates, arrived in Cape Town in late January. The third day of their trip was spent in the small township of Village Heights, which borders the Rondevlei Nature Reserve.

Kingston University students taking part in the refuse removal and recycling programmeTasked with supporting the local population in their efforts to develop sustainable entrepreneurial opportunities, the students took part in a refuse removal and a recycling programme recently introduced in the Village Heights Community Nature Garden. The programme involved upcycling neighbourhood waste - creating furniture, art and even training weights - and linking local businesses into the municipality's recycling programme. The students also supported a recycling competition for local school children to help tackle the major issue of litter in the area. They donated 40 sets of shirts and shorts provided by Fulham as prizes for the winning teams in the competition.

Associate professor Dr Peter Garside said this type of fieldwork provides a platform for students to test some of the ideas and theories they learn in the classroom: "Participating in activities to improve the wellbeing of communities in places like Village Heights is a rich and rewarding experience and it was great for the students to see the impact of their efforts," he said.

"We are very fortunate to have long-standing links with communities in places like Village Heights to enable students to add this international dimension and real-life learning to their university experience. It is fundamental to develop their graduate attributes."

The University also donated £1,000 to the Cape Town Environmental Education Trust, funded through research and evaluation work undertaken by Dr Garside and Dr Annie Hughes for the Fulham FC Foundation's work hub employability programme and the fanActiv healthy living programme. This will lay the ground work for future visits and other activities to promote sport development for the township.

The Village Heights v Kingston University football matchAfter spending time learning about the community development projects and sharing personal experiences, there was only one thing left for the students to do - find a pitch, add a ball and a set of goals, and it was time for a hotly-contested Village Heights Locals v Kingston University Students football match. The thrilling competition finished two-all following a late equaliser for the hosts.

Steven Day, chief executive of Fulham FC Foundation, said: "I'd like to congratulate the students from Kingston University who assisted with the development project in Cape Town and to all of the local youngsters taking part. It's a fine example of how great work in our own community can make a difference to a meaningful initiative overseas."

Find out more about undergraduate courses in geography and the environment at Kingston University:

The local youngsters at Village Heights in their Fulham football shirts

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