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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Christopher Robinson

Christopher Robinson

Photo credit: Christopher Robinson, Football training session in Mozambique


My name is Chris, I’m from Belfast and I studied Spanish and Portuguese here in Cambridge from 2014 to 2018. What caught my eye about this course was the year abroad and, in particular, the freedom students have to mix and match different activities, locations and languages. I chose to focus on Portuguese and split the year between studying in Brazil and volunteering in Mozambique.


In Brazil, I spent one semester studying history and social sciences at a university in Rio de Janeiro. The Cidade Maravilhosa, or Wonderful City, is just that and much much more. There are few places in the whole world where you can attend classes in the morning, relax on the beach in the afternoon and watch a live football match in the evening. Believe me Rio is one of them! There were only a handful of foreign students at my university so the immersion was intense but great for developing language skills. The language learning didn’t stop outside the classroom - to this day, I think I owe my listening skills to the lively fans in the football stadiums!! And of course the excellent teaching at Cambridge and the local university.


In Mozambique, I spent three months volunteering at a local football academy on behalf of Arsenal Football Club. The opportunity originated from a guest lecture in Cambridge, which I had attended in second year. While the lecture was primarily focused on the great work Arsenal does to promote language learning in North London, it also showcased a development programme for coaches seeking to apply their skills at partner projects all over the world. One of those projects was in Manica - a small province in central Mozambique, approximately 20 miles from Zimbabwe. As it transpired, the language barrier had posed challenges in the past so the Club thought it would be helpful for me to join its representatives as an interpreter, facilitating the delivery of academy training sessions, community football and English language classes. Very quickly, I found myself using that same vocabulary from the Brazilian stadiums to give instructions to Mozambican players on a clay pitch in Manica. It is true there were less beaches but the next three months were spent in the now familiar settings of classrooms and football pitches. It was fun and rewarding to support with English and IT teaching and, on the football side, we had an exhilarating underdog cup run, which ended in defeat to a professional side from the neighbouring city of Chimoio. As inspired as I had been by our players’ performances, it wasn’t long before I had to settle for second XI college football back in Cambridge!


Maita Basa, Moçambique. Obrigado, Brasil. And thank you to Cambridge for supporting us along the way!