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Chitanda Combined School Netball Court

Lusaka, Zambia




6 weeks




Project achievements

Connected communities

Acts as a centre for community sport and social impact initiatives

Area improved

Provides high quality infrastructure for Sport In Action's development programmes

Used engineering skill

Combines stiff underlying ground and well-compacted stone base to produce a strong and durable court

Design and manage the construction of a sports court in an underserved area in Lusaka

In 2022, the ACE2Zambia engineering team from the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering (ACE) at the University of Bath travelled out to Lusaka, Zambia as part of the VolunteerZambia foundation.

VolunteerZambia is a volunteer programme that involves over 60 sports students from the seven Wallace Group universities and the University of Bath engineering team. Every year, it works with a Zambian non-governmental organisation (NGO) called Sport In Action.

Sport In Action is the largest sports NGO in Zambia, aiming to use sport as a mechanism for social, cultural, and economic empowerment.

The VolunteerZambia foundation has been sending students out to Zambia since 2016, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, no teams had travelled out since 2019.

The 2022 ACE2Zambia team was tasked with designing and constructing a netball court in the Matero district of Lusaka, and conducting an asset register survey of all Sport In Action facilities around the city.

In just 6 weeks, the ACE2Zambia team, working with local contractors, was able to transform an area of waste ground into a full-size netball court, complete with drainage, court markings, and custom fabricated netball posts.

Together, they provided high quality infrastructure for the sports development programmes that Sport In Action runs.

Image credit: Rhys Phillips

How was the court built?

The court construction comprised of levelling and compacting the ground to provide a stiff sub-base on which the court build-up could be placed. The build-up of the court was made of a layer of approximately 100mm of mixed 10mm stone and quarry sand on top of which was placed 35mm of bitumen.

The combination of stiff underlying ground and a well-compacted stone base produced a strong and durable court. Bordering the court was a perimeter of precast curb stones and a cast-in-place concrete shoulder and drain.

The completed pitch.

With time being tight, the project went right to the wire and the final lines were being painted on the court just an hour before the opening ceremony.

But the end result was a high-quality court that the team were proud of, and the community was delighted with. It was not without its issues, however.

Working in Zambia after two years of double-digit inflation meant that material costs were high.

There were a number of discussions between the engineering team and the contractor around how money could be saved while keeping the project on schedule.

Did you know …

  1. The entire court was constructed in just five weeks onsite.

  2. Over 20 community netball teams have signed up to play on the court.

  3. This is the first sports court to be constructed in the Matero district.

The difference the project has made

In terms of learning, throughout the 6-week programme, the ACE2Zambia team were responsible for:

  • the day-to-day management of the site;
  • ensuring the quality of material and work; and
  • negotiating with the contractor to ensure that progress was made in a timely and cost-effective fashion.

As a mixed team of undergraduate engineers and architects, there was a steep learning curve to ensure a balance between rapid progress and good quality work.

Overall, the team worked well together and were able to produce a high-quality sports facility for the local community.

Working through the challenges in order to finish the court on time and on budget was a great learning experience. The ACE2Zambia team look forward to applying the lessons learned in their future careers.

As for Matero, the community around the Chitanda Combined School are loving their new sports court. Hundreds of students are benefitting every week from the new Sport In Action infrastructure.

People who made it happen

  • Sport In Action
  • University of Bath's ACE2Zambia engineering team:
  • Rhys Phillips
  • Emelia Noyce
  • Alice Gaukroger
  • Daniel Vizard-Williams
  • Catriona San
  • VolunteerZambia