• Crossing Borders, Finding Home

    February 25, 2017. Self-Directed Learning Process Consultant, Emily Kruger writes about FESAC program in Obregón, Sonora, Mexico.

    Part 1: Borders

    We arrived in Ciudad Obregón after an incredible 4 days with the Physical Education teachers in Hermosillo, who set the bar very high for the three locations in our partnership with FESAC and SEC in Mexico. Within just a few minutes of Monday morning’s Circle of Friends, it was obvious that these 50 PE teachers would bring the same enthusiasm and creative thinking that enriched the week before. This meant another week with a special flare for a Year 2 program, where CAC could confidently share ownership of the week with the participants. When asked about creating and leading their own games, participants made it clear they wanted more responsibility than they took on last year.

    By Tuesday they were already working together to prepare the session for Wednesday. There were seven groups of 4-5 coaches, each one huddled around big sheets of paper on make-shift tables with markers in hand. We walked around and listened in as they collaborated: pointing, moving, deliberating, drawing, and re-drawing. Within 30 minutes, each group had a full sheet of paper with a diagram up top, description of how to play, and potential questions to ask while leading it. They were even checking the criteria: Are the games you created universally accessible? Is there space for problem solving and critical thinking by the students? Is there a social impact message integrated into the game? We asked if they would be ready to coach them the next day and there was a resounding “sí!” from everyone.

    My favorite game was called “Muro de Trump” or “Trump’s Wall”. They split the groups into four teams and asked each one to pick a Mexican city that borders the U.S. When the coaches called out a city, that team tried to “cross the border” without being tagged by the border control officers. They added ways to get through border control legally, like obtaining a visa i.e. a ball. This was such a creative, locally-relevant iteration of what I called “sharks and minnows” growing up. Considering it was a new idea, the coaches agreed that there was more to the metaphor that they are going to work out because they really want to use this game to talk with their students about the realities and dangers of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. For example, what are the consequences of being caught by border police without a visa? What might happen when you get to the other side? Why do people in Mexico want/need to live in the U.S.? There is so much here to dig into! Not only is it a dynamic game, but it also creates a space for some very important conversations between teachers and students here in Mexico.

    This game made me see immigration through the lens of people in Mexico. It will be an important conversation and reflection to continue as we travel to Nogales for our final week working with the Physical Education teachers of Sonora, Mexico!

  • Setting New G.O.A.L.S

    February  13th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Taylor Allen writes about her experience working with CAC and G.O.A.L.S. Haiti in Léogâne Haiti.

    Passing through Port-au-Prince into Léogâne took us from a concrete city to the tropical countryside. Just beyond the street borders to the west was the ocean and to the east was flat land full of sugar cane stalks reaching about four feet to six feet tall surrounded by palm trees bearing green coconuts. In the harvested areas animals roamed such as cows, pigs, chickens, goats, and horses. The air was cooler and lighter from the ocean breeze than the middle of the capital city, also not as many people or cars on the road. When we arrived to the apartment the entrance was secured by a giant metal blue sliding gate that covered the driveway at the curb. Once the security guard pushed it open we saw the entire driveway made of smooth oval black and gray rocks that crunched underneath the tires. There were bright white buildings embellished with blue and green accents from the color of the doors, window shutters, and staircase railings. In the middle of the driveway stood an enormous lush mango tree with green mangos dangling from the branches.

     

    The program consisted of around twenty five coaches from G.O.A.L.S. Haiti – a sport-for-development nonprofit organization helping children and teens in Haiti through the love of soccer. Many of the coaches met us at the G.O.A.L.S. office; the apartment we stayed in sits just above it. The G.O.A.L.S. Haiti staff share a white pick-up truck and every morning there would be around ten coaches in the bed of the truck ready to hitch a ride to the field for training. Being welcomed by that type of energy every morning was uplifting to say the least! We would open our door to come downstairs and around five to ten coaches would greet us once we were down by the mango tree. The field we got to play on was a grass field enclosed by a chain link fence with several openings that would later allow for chickens, goats and stray dogs to find themselves roaming around our trainings. At one point, a goat found herself in the middle of the goal when we were about to do a shooting game. Other fields were right next to sugar cane areas with cows, pigs, and horses within a couple yards of the field. The background was a scenic view of green mountains with the sun setting just over the horizon. It was a stunning view with the green mountains, tall palm trees with coconuts, lush sugar cane fields, and animals roaming around filling the landscape.

     

    This week we were accompanied by Community Impact Coaches (CIC’s) from the Haitian Initiative Program. These particular Haitian Initiative coaches have been a several year partner with Coaches Across Continents and have been noticeably impactful in their communities by using CAC curriculum. The CIC’s are there to support CAC in delivering the curriculum side-by-side to other partners, with the hope of Haitian Initiative and G.O.A.L.S. Haiti to join forces and continue to build onto each others’ positive impacts in communities throughout Haiti beyond the borders of their own cities. It was great to see other programs with similar missions coming together and discussing how they can join forces to create an even bigger ripple in their communities.

     

    One of my favorite moments from the week in Léogâne happened after the first day. A young woman who speaks English, and is an English teacher, came up to me and told me she learned two things that day. I was excited she opened up to me after the first day to share! I hadn’t experienced that in the three weeks in Haiti. She continued to tell me about her two favorite games from the day. She loved Mingle-Mingle and the Financial Literacy game. In Mingle-Mingle one of the questions asked was to get together with people of the same faith or religion. There were about five groups, and this woman, was actually standing alone. She mentioned she was Mormon, and not a lot of people in her community were Mormon, and for that moment on the field, she realized religion doesn’t have to be a conflict point. She learned that no matter what religion another person is they can still get along, they can still bond and work together on the soccer field, and they can still bond and work together off the field. I thought that was really neat to hear! In the Financial Literacy game she mentioned how she learned about taking ownership of her income, educating herself about options, and becoming empowered to make her own decision about whether to save, spend, or even invest. She never thought about investing or making investment purchases to move closer to her goals. Both comments really solidified positive outcomes and impacts the CAC curriculum can have on people that participate in these programs. It’s often difficult to see any sort of impact made in a week with people who speak another language, so it was reassuring for a participant to share these lessons with me.

     

    From the tropical setting, plus three organizations joining forces, in addition a woman opening up about lessons learned after day one – needless to say, this was an incredible experience. Coaches Across Continents is creating a safe space for their partners to have conversations around forward thinking and challenging harmful societal traditions in their communities all driven by the participants themselves. CAC is empowering individuals to think creatively, to challenge harmful mindsets, and to envision a better future; all through sport! The Self-Directed Learning model (SDL) is giving opportunities to people who want to see a change in their communities for the better. They are equipping participants with curriculum that can open up the conversation around improvements within themselves, their teams, their communities, and ultimately turn them into action plans. I am proud to be a part of an organization so driven to create a better world, one partner and community at a time. Keep up the great work CAC!

  • CAC’s 2015: A Year In Review!

    April 26th 2016. Coaches Across Continents is delighted to present our Annual Review 2015! This incredible document, developed with the Taiji Brand Group, brings our record-breaking 2015 to life. It details the highlights of our year from developing our ASK for Choice curriculum as a Clinton Global Initiative member to the inspirational work of our partners on key global days such as Peace Day. The review provides more information on some of our community partnerships which address topics such as disaster recovery in Nepal, refugees in Uganda and child rights in Brazil.

    This year we are giving twenty lucky CAC supporters the chance to win an ultra-durable One World Futbol. All you have to do is read the Annual Review and complete this simple questionnaire (Hint: if you don’t know the answers you can find them in our Annual Review 2015!). Anyone who answers the questions correctly will be entered into the draw to win!

    Once again here is the Annual Review 2015.

    And click here for the form and a chance to win a One World Futbol.

    We want to thank each and everyone of you for your ongoing support of Coaches Across Continents. We hope you enjoy reading this review as much as we enjoyed doing the work!

    Malaika. Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo

  • Re-envisioning The Field

    August 19th 2015. Coaches Across Continents volunteer Emily Spring talks about her first week On-Field in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with IndoChina Starfish Foundation.

    We step onto the football field in Phnom Penh for the first time this year on a hot August day. Before the end of our first day training coaches from Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF), laughter could be heard in abundance, and this theme of joy continued throughout the week.

    “Joy” wasn’t always a word that could be used to describe many fields in Phnom Penh. For most westerners who come to this place for the first time, Cambodia is infamous for its Killing Fields, one of several locations throughout Cambodia marked for its mass graves discovered after the Cambodian Genocide. However, among this group of dedicated coaches – many of whom have returned for the second or third year – the Genocide could not be further from their minds. For these coaches, the field represents a place of fun and laughter for everyone.

     ISF – CAC’s partner program here in Phnom Penh – has worked to foster hope in the communities of Chbar Ampov and Stung Meanchey, just outside the city center. This week, ISF and CAC have been working together with 30 coaches who impact thousands of children.  The field no longer has to represent a place of discrimination, pain, or suffering. We are working to build a new type of field in Phnom Penh – both tangibly and metaphorically. This December, a new, tangible complex will be built – complete with two full-length football fields and one Connor Sport Court where kids can safely play, run, and kick a ball around.

     More importantly are the various fields that ISF has already established throughout Phnom Penh where they train dozens of teams and thousands of children. Through its partnership with Kousar Thmery – a local school for deaf children – ISF has created an inclusive space where kids of all abilities are welcome to play. Through the Rabbit School for children with disabilities, ISF has ensured that the field represents a place where no child is discriminated. And through its various community outreach programs, ISF has already established itself throughout Chbar Ampov and Stung Meanchey, creating several programs based in inclusion, education, and play.

     In Phnom Penh, we are working to instill hope to all children involved in ISF’s programs – hope for a better future that moves away from a violent history of harsh discrimination. Thanks to our games in CAC’s Chance to a Choice program, we have not aimed to create an escape from the past; rather, we have created a space where coaches and kids can safely speak about such issues. ISF and CAC are reenvisioning the field for Cambodia – one that is no longer rooted in discrimination, but instead represents an inclusive, fun, and safe environment. One where all children are welcomed and encouraged to speak up – a field where hope can finally be found.

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  • Measuring the Immeasurable: Social Impact

    September 1st, 2014. Coaches Across Continents’ unique WISER monitoring and evaluation (M&E) provides a detailed picture of what is happening on the ground. Not only does our M&E measure the outcomes of our On-Field programs, it also gives us valuable insights into the impact CAC is having year-round in local communities across the globe. Accounting for the successes and challenges unique to each partner program allows us to continuously improve the quality of our programs and systems.

    Our team has just finished a half-year review of our On-Field programs. In 2014, CAC has piloted many initiatives, including training in M&E and child protection and our finalized Hat-Trick curriculum. Here is what our monitoring and evaluation is telling us.

    So far, CAC has conducted 42 trainings for 38 implementing partner programs in 2014, reaching 1,859 coaches who will in turn impact 132,375 youth in their respective communities.

    CAC strives to build strong, collaborative partnerships to achieve sustainability by creating local networks of football for social impact leaders around the world. As a result, the number of local member partners CAC works with has considerably increased: since the beginning of 2014, CAC has empowered 685 community partners, five times more than in 2013. Our programs connect like-minded educators who can serve as a resource to one another: local coaches in Zimbabwe created a Facebook group to keep in touch, coaches in Tanzania planned weekly meetings, and a committee was set up in Zambia to oversee the implementation of CAC’s 24-week curriculum.

    In addition to developing a football resource packet for Peace One Day to be played in over 130 countries leading up to September 21st, CAC launched its improved Hat-Trick curriculum in January, based on our ‘Chance to Choice’ philosophy. The curriculum is composed of more than 180 games, including a new child rights module bringing to life the UNICEF Convention on the Rights of the Child. The curriculum allows for even more flexibility to fit the distinctive social needs of each community. In total, more than 120 different games, linked to 36 different role models, have been played in 2014.

     graph 2

     

    CAC is particularly successful in training local coaches and organizations in using football for social impact. For instance, 97% of all local coaches now know a football game to teach children to find creative solutions to their problems instead of asking for the answer, compared to 24% prior to 2014.

    Health and Wellness is an important component of our curriculum. This includes many HIV behavior change games,and 95% of local coaches trained know a football game to teach children about how to protect themselves against sexually transmitted diseases, compared to only 31% of coaches who had never attended a CAC training. Returning coaches have noticed an improvement in their players’ overall health and their awareness of the importance of taking care of their bodies following the implementation of CAC games throughout the year.

    CAC places an important emphasis on female empowerment and female participation in sports. Out of the 36 role models used On-Field, 25 were female, giving more than 90% of local coaches the tools to teach children about powerful female role models. Games directly addressing female empowerment and women’s roles in society have lead to numerous discussions around the world about the root causes of inequality, traditional roles of women and men, ways of integrating women and girls in the community, or the importance of female participation in sports. This has led to increased female participation, with 70% of local coaches planning on integrating girls in their teams, double the amount at the beginning of the year. Brazil clubs have expressed their desire to add girls to their trainings, and other groups have created girls specific afterschool groups, teams, and leagues. In Zanzibar participants brainstormed five solutions they could implement to give more power to women in their community after playing one of CAC’s gender equity games.

    A few impacts of our conflict resolution and social inclusion games include local coaches engaging in discussions concerning homosexuality and in identifying solutions to tackle widespread corruption. Our Peace Day games have been launched in many communities affected by a long history of conflict and violence such as the DRC and Rwanda. A game between a deaf and an able-bodied team was organized at the end of our program in Sierra Leone that focused largely on integrating people with disabilities; an unprecedented event according to our partner program.

     

    Quantified Impact from our Baseline/Endline Questions:

     

    1. Do you know a football game to teach young people to find creative solutions to their problems, both as a team and individually, instead of asking for the answer?
    2. Do you know a football game to teach young people how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections, including HIV/AIDS?
    3. Do you know a football game to teach young people about the role and place of women and girls on the soccer field, at home and in the community?
    4. Do you know a football game to teach young people how best to resolve conflict?

     

     

    graph 1

    100% of our participants have received training in child protection and have promised to “ALWAYS protect and NEVER abuse children and young people in their care”, now mandatory to receive a CAC certificate.Only 14% said they had received child protection training before being involved with CAC. In Kitale, Kenya, 150 children learned their rights for the first time and spoke up about child abuse in their community. Child rights games have been played at 50% of our programs and inspired local coaches to invent new games teaching children about their rights.

    CAC also keeps track of our partners’ progress towards Self-Directed Learning. One third of coaches participating in a CAC program this year had already attended another CAC training a previous year. This is crucial to develop local ownership and self-sufficiency.

    Introducing new methodology and best practices is the first step towards creating self-directed learners. More than 20 of our partner programs reported that CAC introduced ‘new learning’ or a ‘new way of coaching.’

    In spite of 64% of our 2014 programs entering the first year of the partnership, 47% of them are in the adapt or create stages of Self-Directed Learning, whereby they not only understand the concept of sport for social impact but are also capable of adapting or inventing games to address new social issues. Participants all around the world have developed their own football for social impact curriculum. Themes include child rights that address regional laws, deforestation, combating HIV stigma, cholera, malaria, wealth redistribution and maternal mortality.

    CAC has also been active Off-Field, speaking at high-level events in India, Qatar, San Francisco and New York on a wide range of topics including CSR policy for football development, sport for development, youth development and empowering girls through sports. In 2014, CAC launched a new corporate partnership with Chevrolet, which has already had tremendous success with projects benefiting our local partners Rumah Cemara in Bandung, Indonesia and Beyond the Ball in Chicago, USA. The CAC team has also put our writing skills to the test, and our paper on CAC’s Self-Directed Learning model was accepted for publication in a special issue of Soccer & Society. To end the first half of 2014 on a high note, CAC has been shortlisted for the 2014 Beyond Sport Awards for the highly competitive Corporate of the Year category.

     

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  • CAC, Hofstra, Soccer, and Pelé

    IMG_9421April 13, 2014. Another weekend, another speaking event for CAC Chief Executive Strategist, Brian Suskiewicz. A return home of sorts, Brian spoke at the “Soccer As The Beautiful Game” conference at Hofstra University in New York. Before CAC Brian was Associate Head Coach for the Hofstra Men’s Soccer Team from 2004 to 2009, winning three CAA titles during those five years. To say Brian was happy to return is an understatement, but throw a football legend into the mix and words fall short of expressing our delight in participating in this event.

    Brian has a chance to share a few words with Pele

    Brian has a chance to share a few words with legendary footballer and global icon Pele

    One of the big activities of the weekend, aside from gathering the all-stars of the sport for development field, was to give Pelé, THE Pelé, an honorary degree from Hofstra. His ties to the university go back to his days as a player as the NY Cosmos used to train at Hofstra in the 1970s.  Pelé also spoke at the conference, noting that coming to play for the NY Cosmos “was the best thing in my life.  It was the best decision to come to play in the United States.”  He also noted that soccer is “the biggest family in the world.”  Brian was honored to have a few moments to speak with Pelé and thank him for inspiring generations of footballers all over the world.  A full video of his 5-minute speech on Friday evening can be found here.

    Besides his brief meeting with the global icon, Brian spoke on two panels during this first ever event at his old stomping ground. The first focused on “Football, Pedagogy, and Integration,” and Brian capitalized on this opportunity to detail our philosophy of self-directed learning. Brian partook in this panel with other academics in the field, sharing ideas on how soccer can change the world, creating self-directed learners based on Dr. Judith Gates’ Chance to Choice educational theory.

    The second panel shifted attentions to “Empowerment, Social Integration, and Soccer”, moving from the theoretical to the practical. Many familiar faces joined Brian as he spoke about our work on the field in more than twenty-five countries around the world. Friends and partners of CAC who also participated include Mary McVeigh from Soccer Without Borders – who we are working with in Uganda this month! – as well as representatives from streetfootballworld, Love Futbol, and America Scores.  The interested crowd asked dozens of questions varying from implementation practices to supporting global charities.

    We are proud to be part of events like this, honored to be among such stellar figures in our field of not only international development but also international football – nice to meet you Pelé! Moreover, we are proud because we are the global leaders in sport for social impact and these platforms allow us to spread awareness for what we do with the incredible local organizations we are so grateful to call our partners.