“Let me do it myself and then I will understand it” (Confucius)
November 2nd, 2014. Senior Staff member, Markus Bensch writes about his time in Cape Verde with Delta Cultura.
I’m sitting at the international airport of Praia, Cape Verde and waiting to start my long journey to South Africa. After 7 weeks Off-Field my first two weeks back On-Field are about to end. I experienced a great program with 22 participants at the Football for Hope Center in Tarrafal which is hosted by Delta Cultura. It was the 2nd year of our Hat-trick Initiative with this organization that educates the children and youth in the community of Tarrafal to reach higher formal education and develop social skills. I was very happy that we could welcome more than 60% returning coaches who were very eager to do their next step in becoming Self-Directed Learners in football for social impact.
The participants were very eager to learn many new games and actively participated in the conversations that very often caused controversial discussions. During the two weeks training we focused mainly on the topics Conflict Resolution, Alcohol and Drug Abuse as well as Children’s Rights and powerful female role models in football. Many conflicts in Tarrafal are still getting solved with violence by throwing stones at each other or hitting each other with them. The participants were very competitive which caused conflict in many games, even those that are not particularly designed for Conflict Resolution. I was very impressed how little cheating did happen in the games and if it happened, then people would instantly admit that they have cheated or do the exercise again to correct their behavior. We also had a very intense discussion about leadership and the question if anybody can be a leader and what makes a good leader. Both leadership and honesty are very important when looking for solutions, other than violence, to solve conflicts.
Confucius’ proverb says “Explain it to me and I will forget. Show it to me and I will remember. Let me do it myself and then I will understand.” Following this advice we spent a lot of time during our training on coach-backs where the participants can implement their ideas and practice their coaching. Starting from the Friday in the first week, every day a different group of three or four people conducted a one hour session with social impact games for the children that spent the morning at Delta Cultura’s education center. Our 2nd year of training focuses on developing the participants’ skill of adapting our CAC games. I was very impressed by some of the adaptations that the coaches developed for their session. For example there was a group who changed our Gazza Dizzy Tag game. In this game taggers have to spin around ten times before they try to tag players in a set square which is obviously very difficult for them. It illustrates the negative effects of alcohol abuse on our bodies and performance. In the adaptation players were divided into different groups of 4 or 5 players lining up behind a cone ready for a race. Then the first player had to run to the cone which was placed a few meters away and run 10 times around this cone before he/she would return to his/her team and tag the next player that would go and do the same. Some players even struggled to finish the 10 spins around the cone. I liked this adaptation very much, because it allowed every player to experience the consequences of consuming too much alcohol or drinking at an early age.
For the following year I hope the participants will progress with what they have learned during the two weeks and that the experience of conducting successful coach-back sessions motivates each of them to regularly implement football for social impact before we come for our 3rd year of training.
I’ve got to go; they are calling all passengers to the gate for boarding. I’m off to my 38 hours journey from Praia through Lisbon, Amsterdam, Zurich and Johannesburg to Durban, South Africa to coach Whizzkids United and their coaches from next week Monday. This is the organization I volunteered for 15 months before I started to work for CAC in April this year. I’m really looking forward to the reunion with some of my old colleagues and I’m interested to see the progress the organization has made since I left. In June this year they finally opened their Football for Hope Center which means that another perfect artificial pitch is waiting for my colleague Kelly and me. That makes me even more excited!