• Building Community Stakeholders in Chicago

    June 10, 2014. Coaches Across Continents just concluded a ten-day training session with former Beyond Sport award-winning group Beyond the Ball (BTB), based in South Lawndale, Chicago, also know as Little Village. The partnership came about from our work with Chevrolet FC that will impact ten programs over the next two years under the banner “What do you #Playfor?” This was the first full-year of a Hat Trick Initiative that CAC has done based in the United States. Beyond the Ball, led by Rob and Amy Castanedo, seeks to create community stake-holders in the neighborhood of Little Village, Chicago. The perception to the outside world of Little Village is greatly influenced by negative media due to gang-violence, primarily from the Latin Kings and the Two Sixes.  In this community of just 4.4 square miles there are over 2,000 gang members.  Beyond the Ball is using sport to activate safe spaces in the community and to show the youth and families that there are other alternatives.

    Over the course of ten-days, Coaches Across Continents assisted BTB with both on field coaching education and off field consultancy work. This is an organization that started in 1998 reaction to Rob and Amy’s house being burned down by gang members. Undeterred, this couple started BTB to use the power of sport to activate a safe space around the local school, Gary/Ortiz Elementary School campus.  Originally a basketball program, they now play some other sports and are looking to add a full-time soccer program. The organization has also grown along with their participants. They know have children who have started in their “Bitty Ball” program and are now young leaders in middle school who are beginning to teach the newest class of Bitty Ballers.

    The biggest impact for the coaches within BTB was learning to allow children to try to “solve their problems” during games rather than providing the answers for them.   This was highlighted during Hope Solo for Conflict Resolution, a simple game with one rule. While in pairs, you must get over a cone together. Initially the pairs stare at you wondering exactly what you want from them. Once they realize that they must “solve their own problem” they begin communicating with their partner to come up with different ways to get over the cone together. After a few minutes, each pair usually comes up with a dozen different ways of solving the problem, illustrating that there are many solutions to any situation, and reinforcing communication and problem-solving techniques.

    Along with our direct work with BTB, we also held a three-day coaching course for invited local NGOs who want to use sport for social impact. Coaches from 13 different NGOs from around the city came to Little Village to participate. When they implement the curriculum with their own organizations, they will impact nearly 3,000 children. The best feedback came from some of the coaches. Jessica Salinas from the Boys & Girls Club said, “This was the greatest course I have ever been to. Each day I went back to the office and told everyone that this is the program they all should be attending.” Richard Armijo reiterated this stating, “Every school teacher should get the opportunity to do this.

    CAC also worked with BTB off-field as BTB expand their sports program to include full-time soccer. Working with Co-Program Director Michel Tilapa we developed a plan for a comprehensive soccer-only curriculum that focuses on messages applicable to the children of Little Village. Working with the other Co-Program Director Lisette Leonardo we focused on best practices for monitoring & evaluation. We also held a full-day staff training development session addressing a host of issues. Jesus Martinez, Operations Director, said, “It meant a lot for our staff. We have a very young staff, we’re all young, we’re all learning. There’s always ways to improve our programs. We definitely feel we learned a lot from our partnership with CAC.”

    IMG_0545

    Coaches Across Founder Nick Gates helps coaches develop their own sport for social impact games

    Hope Solo for Conflict Resolution in threes!

    Hope Solo for Conflict Resolution in threes!