CAC Rolls on with Magic Bus
November 17, 2014. Off-Field volunteer Gail Buswell joins the team for her first On-Field Program with Coaches Across Continents and Magic Bus in India.
I’ve been lucky enough to have worked as a volunteer behind the scenes for CAC for a few months and ever since I heard about this groundbreaking organization, I have been itching to find out more and see how they work their magic On-Field. This week I got the chance to see just that in Hyderabad, as I joined Brian and Nora, supported by Pankaj and Prasanna from Slum Soccer, and Ali a fellow volunteer. The team was there for the first year of CAC’s award winning Hat-Trick Initiative with Magic Bus. It was the perfect introduction for me as the partnership between CAC and Magic Bus is a new one and has the potential to impact tens of thousands of children in India through Magic Bus’s extensive network of coaches and volunteers.
Magic Bus had a bit of a head start on other organizations in that their experienced coaches were already familiar with the concept of using sport and play for education. The focus of the week was therefore to add to this knowledge by introducing CAC’s novel and forward thinking approach to Self-Directed Learning. In contrast to teaching by presenting facts and answers, the CAC strategy is to encourage participants to solve their own problems collectively (whilst at the same time learning new football skills and having a huge amount of fun!). Translated to a community environment, this methodology is immensely powerful as it can be applied to any issue or problem. CAC provides a particular focus on key global issues such as gender equality, conflict resolution, and health and wellness– but the messaging is the same across different countries and cultures: communicate, respect each other, and embrace your choice to make the best decisions for yourself and your community.
I was shocked to learn during the week that 51% of men and 54% of women in India believe that in certain circumstances it can be justifiable to beat your wife. Even amongst the 27 kind and compassionate people in the group, initially only one woman was willing to stand up and publically say that she disagrees with this mentality. This was a sobering reminder of the power of entrenched tradition in a culture. Against this background it is clear to see the potential impact of encouraging the next generation to believe that they have a voice, they have a choice, and that there are alternative solutions to violence. Armed with these life skills they, together with their local community, have the power to question and change their existing culture.
CAC changes the way people think in subtle and clever ways. The games focus around footballer role models and one of these is Marta (da Silva). Marta plays for the Brazilian women’s national team and is the 5 time winner of FIFA World Player of the Year. Before starting the ‘Marta’ games Brian asked the group which football player had won the World Player of the Year the most times. Hands shot up and cries of ‘Ronaldo’, ‘Messi’ and ‘Cantona’ rung out. When after several minutes no one had made the correct guess Brian asked the group a simple question – ‘Do women play football?”. There was much shaking of heads – a resounding no. It was a big surprise when Brian introduced them to the player Marta and by the end of the week everyone wanted to play football like Marta!
Throughout the week I was hugely impressed by the energy and enthusiasm and capacity for fun and laughter of all the Magic Bus coaches. They were engaged and creative in all the games and did not shy away from the difficult and impassioned debates that the games provoked. Nora and Brian created a challenging, but safe environment for all the coaches, which allowed them to voice their views and begin to think about things in a different way. They made it look easy, but it’s a tremendously difficult thing to do and it was a privilege to watch them at work. It is this environment that I hope the Magic Bus coaches can help create for their kids. With the passion and potential on display this week, I am sure they can and I am really excited to see where Magic Bus takes what they have learned from CAC. I would love to come back for year 2 of the Hat-Trick program to see how the coaches and the communities in which they are leaders have applied the skills they have learned this week and also to catch up with all the new friends I have made. After all, once you have all ‘cuckoo’ danced like chickens together, you are friends for life!!