CAC Coach Tim with Prince Harry
27th June 2014. CAC coach Tim Linden blogs on his day with Prince Harry at CAC implementing community partner ACER in Brazil.
It didn’t feel like a typical day in the Eldorado neighborhood of Diadema, São Paulo, where Coaches Across Continents’ first local Brazilian partner, ACER, has been working with at-risk youth for the past 20 years. Amidst the Brazilian flags, banners and streets painted in green, yellow and blue, hinting that it is about that time in the four-year cycle of the world’s most popular sporting event, there was an unusually large number of police, security guards, city officials, foreign reporters and local bystanders gathering to understand why traffic patterns in the community had been altered since 10 AM.
By 1 PM, one of the local football courts regularly utilized by ACER coaches to implement a sport-for-social-impact curriculum was buzzing with activity. Children, adolescents, parents and even some elderly members of Eldorado were packed in and around the court while the press shuffled about setting up their cameras and microphones. Chatter of British Royalty whirled around the pitch.
Half of the court was being used by ACER coaches to teach boys and girls about the importance of one’s voice, communication and listening skills. The CAC games being played allow young people to improve such skills and build confidence through play, to later apply such skills at school, in the home and around the community. On the other half of the court, some of Brazil’s most talented female players and representatives of the Guerreiras Project led a workshop on how “the beautiful game” is an example of and an opportunity to improve to make progress on issues of gender inequality and social inclusion in Brazil.
When Prince Harry arrived, he took a few minutes to make his way around the court to observe the games and tease out their social messages. Soon after, he asked to chat with representatives of ACER, Guerreiras and CAC as the children divided themselves into teams. There was a short discussion about Brazil being the “country of football” and how that title can give a false impression about the value society places on female players, as well as how the sport’s popularity could be leveraged for social impact. It wasn’t long, however, until the children and cheering crowed coaxed Harry into the game and the British Prince worked up a sweat defending the young, agile Brazilians. As a series of short matches concluded, the coaches and children huddled around to compliment the Prince on his performance and thank him for the generous visit, which is sure to have been an inspiring and memorable experience for everyone involved.