Back to School with The Sanneh Foundation
August 25, 2014. For some people, being a professional soccer player who represented the United States in the 2002 World Cup would be enough of an accomplishment to relax in retirement. Tony Sanneh, however, has worked tirelessly to increase the impact of The Sanneh Foundation (TSF) that he founded in 2003. Our first partnership with TSF occurred in January in Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After the success of this first training, we have expanded our partnership to include working with their Dreamline Corps, which combines soccer and education in eight high schools in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.
This past week we worked with over two-dozen Dreamline and TSF coaches who will be implementing the Coaches Across Continents curriculum throughout the next school year. Dreamline looks to engage and energize underserved and under-engaged students so they take ownership of their own success in academics and life. They provide academic support during school hours, as well as an after-school enrichment program that includes sport where the coaches look to continue their work to increase student self-efficacy and leadership by integrating education and sport.
It was an extremely intensive three days which included off-field theory on our Self-Directed Learning model which is based on our Chance to Choice philosophy as well as other talks on Child Rights, coaching skills, and monitoring & evaluation. Both On and Off-Field the coaches learned to allow players to “solve their problems” through experiential learning without the coaches immediately providing the answers.
But On-Field provided the most fun and fireworks. The community of St. Paul and the schools in which TSF operates are very diverse, including recent immigrants (many from East Africa and Asia) as well as a broad mix of ethnicities. On the second day we played a game from our Peace Day Curriculum (free upon request) that addresses stereotypes by restricting specific players to various zones on the field. Besides the clear analogy between the soccer game and stereotyping, it led to an intensive discussion focusing on the current events happening in Ferguson, Missouri. In a civil but passionate discussion, various points of view were brought up. The biggest learning point however was that sport could teach On-Field and also stand as a catalyst for intense dialogue within a safe space off the soccer field.
The school year begins in two weeks, and Coaches Across Continents is proud that our curriculum will be used in eight high schools around St. Paul (MN, USA) and in camps throughout the year that are hosted by The Sanneh Foundation. We look forward to our continued multi-nation partnership with TSF and the impact that Tony is having on both communities through his Foundation.