Let’s say you want to do good abroad and give back to the communities you visit, but you aren’t sure that painting a schoolhouse is exactly how you want to volunteer overseas. You may, after all, be a lousy painter.
But maybe you love to surf or play basketball, or you’re badass on the soccer field. More than that, you know how much you’ve gained from participating in the sports you love, and you want young kids from less-privileged circumstances to experience the joy — as well as the physical, social, and emotional benefits — that sports can bring. Here are the organizations that can help you bring your athletic skills to kids around the world, which will allow you to travel abroad at the same time.
1. Sporting Opportunities
UK-based Sporting Opportunities was designed to “provide coaching opportunities to benefit children from disadvantaged communities,” Director James Burton told us. Moreover, the program also benefits “students from America, Europe, and Australia who are wanting real-life experience in the field of sport and development.”
Sporting Opportunities offers the opportunity to coach kids on baseball in Argentina and basketball in South St. Lucia, all the way down the sports alphabet to volleyball in Ghana. In fact, it offers opportunities to coach 20 different sports and teach in three sports-related areas, including physical therapy, sports psychology, and sports film and media. It offers programs in 13 different countries, so check out the website to find a match between the sport you love to coach and the country to which you want to dedicate your energy.
You do have to pay to participate in these programs, which can last anywhere from two weeks to three months for a full-on sports-management internship, and the price can exceed $300 per week. In return, though, many in-country expenses are covered. Burton says covered items can include “food, accommodation, airport pick-up, in-country transport, full support, and a contribution to the charity work they will be directly involved with.”
2. Waves International
Waves International is a registered non-profit organization that believes we should give back to the communities to which we travel. In addition to local youth interested in surfing, you’ll also be spending serious time with community members, working in everything from environmental stewardship to microfinance projects. Waves International currently operates in three places with incredible surfing and a strong need for assistance: Lobitos, Peru; Puerto Escondido, Mexico; and El Transito, Nicaragua.
In return for your good work, you’ll be part of an amazing community of fellow surfers who care about giving back, and you’ll make lasting connections with the community. You’re asked to pay $295 a week to cover costs, on top of a one-time $395 donation. For that, you get accommodation with the other volunteers or a home-stay option, three home-cooked or restaurant meals a day, access to a selection of surfboards, and support for any projects you run.
3. Volunteering Solutions
Volunteering Solutions connects interested people with volunteering opportunities abroad. Among the options is sports volunteering — specifically soccer coaching in Brazil, Ghana, Ecuador, and South Africa, as well as basketball and surfing in some of these locations. The programs can last anywhere from one week to six months, which also makes them appealing to students taking a gap year. Most programs also include the chance to explore the nearby areas with other program volunteers on weekends.
Prices vary depending on location, and the per-week cost decreases with longer stays, although a one-time $250 fee is tacked on. In Ecuador, you’ll pay $500 for two-weeks, but that will get you accommodation, orientation, 24-hour staff support, and medical insurance. Staying with a host family is an additional $100 per week, but your meals will be included as well.
4. International Volunteer HQ
If you like a lot of sports or are into fitness for its own sake, Volunteer HQ offers the opportunity to focus on general sports education and fitness in Jamaica, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Ghana, Kenya, Morocco, South Africa, and Uganda. If you’re specifically interested in teaching surfing and swimming, South Africa has programs for that. In places like Ecuador, simply getting kids to use their bodies and understand the importance of physical fitness is important.
IVHQ works hard to keep fees low, starting at about $590 for a two-week coaching program in Argentina and topping out at $1,940 for 12 weeks – on top of the $299 registration fee. Lodging and all meals are included, and you can get a discount on language classes.
5. Global Vision International
With Global Vision International (GVI), you can teach soccer or surfing in South Africa. You can also coach soccer, cricket, tennis, and track and field in India. You’ll work with a local school in India’s Kerala region to teach sports skills, help the kids with their English, and boost their confidence both on and off the field.
At $1,795 for two weeks, the India sports-coaching program is not cheap, but it does include accommodation and three meals a day. Moreover, GVI offers scholarships to participate in it – since the organization recognizes that the program benefits not just those being coached but also the people doing the coaching.