04 Sep 2017
Pupils Meet Most Capped Malawian Netballer

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Gabriella Aston and Imogen Abrhams meet Mary Waya

This summer sees the 14th in the series of biennial tours to Malawi by staff and students from The Grammar School at Leeds (GSAL), supporting schools and community projects in the country.

Before the 44-strong party set off, Malawi’s most-capped netball player Mary Waya dropped into school to explain to the group how their donations would make a difference, particularly to grass roots sport.

Mary retired from the national netball team three years ago after a 31-year playing career, during which she competed in three Commonwealth Games and two world netball championships – the team achieved their highest ever placing with 5th place at the 2007 competition in New Zealand. In 2011 Mary opened the Mary Waya Netball Academy in Malawi to identify and nurture young talent.

During her visit to school Mary met members of GSAL’s senior netball team, who showed her some of the sports kit that would be donated to sports projects in Malawi.

Mary said: “Girls in the villages don’t mix with girls in international schools, and there are not many coaches or PE teachers in local schools. I hope the visit by GSAL students will encourage girls to participate in sport for their health and wellbeing, which is part and parcel of their wider achievement.”

During the 23-day tour of Malawi, GSAL students are visiting schools, an orphanage and a hospital with donations of essential educational and medical equipment. They also give their time to practical projects, such as painting curriculum resources onto classroom walls, see at first hand how their year round fundraising has helped schools and communities, and enjoy a well-earned break on safari.

The Malawi Project was started in 1988 by Barry Brindley, then a teacher at Leeds Girls’ High School, as a fundraising programme. The first trip by staff and students took place in 1991 and the project continued when the school merged in 2008 to become GSAL.

Mary is pictured with members of GSAL’s senior netball team, Gabriella Aston and Imogen Abrahams.