A Successful Journey With CAC
May 12th 2015. CAC Community Impact Coach Salim Blanden, from Uganda, blogs about his trip with CAC to Kenya.
It’s been another exciting year for me after hearing the news that I would be working with CAC in another country. It was the 19th of April; I was already in Kisumu, Kenya, waiting for the CAC program leader, Markus and another CAC coach, Turner. Two hours at the ferry station, Markus and Turner arrived. I was so excited to meet Markus again since we had met in Uganda at Mbarara Sports Academy in 2014. I knew I would have a good time with Markus, knowing he would be the leader of the programs in Kenya.
We went to Mbita, a small village on the shores of Lake Victoria in Homabay County. It was a great week for me at Boychild Agenda International. We started the first program with a lot of energy while I enjoyed the fish from the lake every day.
After one week, we set off to Rapogi to CREATA where we would spend another week. The Centre for Regeneration and Empowerment of Africa Through Africa (CREATA) is a Non-Governmental Organization in Kenya that provides opportunities for young people to be creative and explore their potentials. They encourage them to find solutions to their problems and inspire the people of Kenya to love and build their country through sports.
It’s year two for CAC and CREATA to work together and we hit the pitch on Monday morning 27th April. After a brief introduction from Markus, Turner and I, we went straight to the pitch. Turner was the leader of the week in Rapogi and we were joined by Markus’ friends Vincent and Daniel from Germany, as well as Sindiswa Ntlangulela from South Africa. They all had come to join the On-Field program and celebrate Markus’ 30th Birthday.
I was excited to get on the pitch on Monday morning after a heavy breakfast provided by CREATA. Turner ran our first game, ‘Circle of Friends’, one of my favorites. It was clear that many coaches recognized this game as a good number of them were returners. We started with high energy and the new coaches understood the idea of the game very quickly; playing the game with a lot of fun and loud voices. Turner took us through other games like Wilshere Skills for Life, where the coaches learnt and practiced different ways of passing the ball, as Arsenal FC and England midfielder Jack Wilshere does.
I was then given a chance to lead a game called ‘Mingle Mingle’ and I was excited about the response of the coaches when I taught this game. Mingle Mingle is a fun game where players jog around the field and the coach yells a number and then participants quickly get into those groups. The remaining players had to dance or do a goal celebration in front of other participants. The participants loved to dance ‘Kuku dance’ and this made everyone happy, making the game fun for everyone. This gave me confidence, because they all understood what I taught them. I also played another game called Wilshere for Fun and my last game on Monday was Rwanda for Skills. The fact related to Rwanda for Skills was the highlight of the day for me, because it was new to most coaches. They kept asking me if it was true that Rwanda has more women in parliament than men.
It was a great experience for me to teach the CAC games to other coaches and to know that they understood what I taught them. I would like to thank Markus for always talking to me after the games and encouraging me. This gave me the courage to teach the next games. He thanked me for my work and asked me how I felt after teaching the games.
Off the pitch, I enjoyed staying in Rapogi at Paul Ogalo’s home, the CREATA Director. I played with a lot of kids around Paul’s home and enjoyed the good food. The food in Kenya was nice, lots of fish, Chapati, Ugali and meat. Although I did not understand the Kiswahili language very well, I understood the language of delicious food at Paul’s house.
I was also excited about the various programs CREATA is running as part of engaging the young people in Rapogi. I was impressed by the ‘Pacific group’ which is a dancing group of young people that entertained us on Wednesday when we celebrated Markus’s birthday. Afterwards we visited the Rapogi Rock and took photos on top of the rock. Wednesday night gave me more motivation as we danced until midnight, celebrating Markus’ birthday. It was a great party as Daniel and Vincent sang Sorbian birthday songs for him which they always sing back at home honoring the person’s life and wishing him/her all the best.
On to the pitch again, the coaches enjoyed the games and did coach backs every day. It was clear that most coaches taught the games well during coach backs and it was a good indication that they would teach these games and impact more children in their local communities. The coaches liked fun games like Mingle Mingle, 95% football, Scary soccer, and Animal game. Others also liked playing scrimmages. Female empowerment games were also responded to very well. They had so many questions about the topics we raised. Markus always asked more questions to make the participants think about different ways to empower women.
It was a great week for me and the whole CAC team. I found a new home; I could not have asked for something better than this. Thanks to Markus and Turner for the advice and encouragement throughout my time in Kenya, and to Paul and the CREATA staff for hosting us all.
More importantly, I would like to thank the CAC founder Nick Gates for the Letter of Commendation and Recognition. I will continue educating young people and other coaches in my community. I look forward to work with Coaches Across Continents again whenever I’m given the chance.