• ASK for Choice: International Women’s Day 2017

    Coaches Across Continents has been supporting March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD), for many years. We love being part of this beautiful tradition!

    Each year we share a packet of selected games from our curriculum to celebrate the amazing women and girls of this world. The activities address diverse needs and issues relating to gender equity. This year’s games are samples from our comprehensive curriculum on gender justice from the ASK for Choice program. Please email if you are interested in receiving the packet, or if you have questions about the games or anything else related to ASK for Choice. 

    IWD 2017 is slightly different from past years for CAC. As with any tradition in our lives and organization we are continuously examining what we are doing, why we are doing it, how it affects our partners and the citizens of this world, and always, how we can do it better. So this year we have added a key component to our March 8th celebrations. We have been working for several months (and years!) with our partners across the continents to design, develop, and implement locally relevant women’s rights policies and bring them to life on IWD. The ideas shared with us so far have been inspiring.
    After this year’s IWD we will be sharing the stories from celebrations of gender policies brought to life around the world. Please contact if you would like to add a story or policy idea to the collection. We are also happy to share some of these ideas before March 8th if you want some extra inspiration!
     
    Thanks to all of our partners and the thousands of incredible women and girls involved in our work at Coaches Across Continents. On March 8th, and beyond, we celebrate you!

  • The Beauty of Sindhupalchok

    December 16th 2016. Dylan Pritchard blogs from Sindhupalchok, Nepal where we work with Childreach Nepal.

    In my last week with Coaches Across Continents, Mark, Tejas, and I were with Prateek and Shamsher of Childreach Nepal along with Pema who is a leader on the Michael Johnson Young Leader course in Manekharka, Sindapalchuk. Manekharka is a small village that is only five hundred meters long in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountain Range. It took us three different jeeps to get us there from Kathmandu in six hours. For only about thirty minutes of that six-hour drive were we on paved roads. The rest of the time we were driving up and down mountains on rocky dirt roads. It was a rough ride to get there but once we got there it was absolutely worth it. The beauty of the place stunned Mark, Tejas, and me. Manekharka is at the top of a foothill so you can look down and see a beautiful valley filled with terrace style farming. When you look up you can see some more beautiful foothills and can even see some peaks of the Himalayas. On the first morning Mark and I decided to hike to the top of the mountain we were on so we could get a better look at the peaks of the Himalayas. It was super tiring but we made it and snapped some awesome photos before we realized that we could possibly be late to our first training session. We booked it down the trail and ended up about half a mile away from the tin house we were staying at with only ten minutes to spare! We had to get some directions from some little girls, jump down some farming terraces, and jog but we made it because all the coaches and players came an hour late. So we had breakfast, got dressed, and made the five-minute walk to the training field.

    The setting for the field was stunning. It was not a very nice pitch but it was nestled on a terrace in the mountain and was surrounded by houses and animals with the Himalayas in the background. Only pictures can do any of the views I am talking about justice. This week’s program was set up the same way as last week in Bhaktapur except the players were older. It was an awesome week and I finally felt that I actually made a difference with my coaching. I worked on all of the points I have received from the coaches I have encountered on this trip and it culminated with this week. This week I taught all of the skill games that are modeled after famous football players. The way these games work is you do three different skills over the course of the drill and while you do the skill you must say what skill that is, such as “Ronaldo 1!” The drill works on soccer skills but it encourages the player to become more comfortable with their voice. Later on they then have the chance to choose what skill they want to do which reinforces the Self-Directed Learning part of CAC because they now make the decision on what skill to do instead of the coaches. What made me happy was that in the player’s spare time in between drills and during water breaks they were doing the skills and saying the skill aloud like I coached them. This is a reflection of their eagerness to learn and play football but it made me giddy inside knowing that I aided in the process of sustaining CAC curriculum past the time I leave. This was the first instant I felt the affect of coaching and it will definitely not be my last. During this past five weeks it has helped me realize that football must always be part of my life and coaching would be a great way to do that whether it be part time or full time.

    I have had an awesome time this past five weeks learning about football for social impact and I would like to take this time to thank Coaches Across Continents for giving me this opportunity. They say on their website that you will not understand what football for social impact is until you go on a trip and I cannot agree more. The experience I have had learning about different cultures through soccer has been one of the best of my life so far. I owe a special thank you to Mark for putting up with me for five weeks but also teaching me so much about coaching, being a leader, life, and myself. The concepts I have learned from you on this trip will serve me for the rest of my life. Thank you again Coaches Across Continents for this experience and hopefully I get a chance to work with you again in the future.

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  • Trickle Out Effect in Bhaktapur

    December 14th 2016. CAC Global Citizen Dylan Pritchard discussed the CAC approach in Bhaktapur, Nepal during our partnership with Childreach Nepal.

    This week, Mark, Tejas, and I were in Bhaktapur, Nepal, which is a city outside of Kathmandu, working with Childreach Nepal. This week was different than any other week because we worked with a majority of children. The way Coaches Across Continents works is that they will mostly work with coaches of the community instead of children, in order to make sure that the games and concepts they teach will last past the time they are gone and until the next time they visit. The way Mark puts it is that Coaches Across Continents partners with organizations all over the world that coincide with their message, which is to teach social impact through Self-Directed Learning in order to better their surrounding community. It is supposed to be a partnership that will last long past CAC is gone rather than an organization from the West coming in and imposing their dominance and insisting that their way of doing things is better than theirs year after year. With this type of approach, it gives the organization that CAC partners with a platform to customize their own curriculum that caters to the needs of their community instead of teaching a cookie cutter curriculum that has the idea that “one size fits all.” That is why I have enjoyed my trip with CAC thus far because they want to better the core of the community and have it trickle out to everyone else instead of imposing the idea that “West knows best”.

    Although we worked with mostly children this week, we did feel that we made a change for the better. The way that Childreach Nepal wants to set up their system at their school in Bhaktapur is to have eight senior students be taught our coaching style in order to teach all of the younger children of the school. So this camp was composed of those eight senior students and about thirty children between the ages of ten and thirteen. Although the trainings were more for the seniors, we still had to coach children. I have done a little bit of coaching children before but man did I forget the patience you need to do it! Nonetheless, we calmed the kids down a little bit by the end of the week and they had some fun playing the games. The most important part is that we broke the senior students out of their shells and paved the way for them to become leaders in their community by teaching them to coach football for social impact through Self-Directed Learning. On top of all that, I felt that I got a little bit better with integrating the Self-Directed Learning of social issues while keeping it fun in my coaching. We also played a lot of fun Nepali cultural games such as kabaddi, which is a like a more intense tag game, and chungi, which is a rubber band version of a hacky sack. This all added up to an awesome time with the kids.

    This week was an interesting week to say the least. I have been nursing a rolled ankle, which I did last week in Gothatar by stepping in a hole in the field, and on Wednesday I was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. If you have never heard of it, it is a really weird virus that attacks the nerve that controls one side of your face and causes temporary paralysis to that side of your face. Basically, only one side of my face is working right now. I cannot fully blink with my left eye and when I smile, the left side of my mouth says, “Nope, not today.” Although it sounds serious, and I am not taking it lightly, it is more common than people think and it is only very temporary. It is only in my face and nothing else has been affected. Thanks to some family connections and the understanding of CAC, I have been given the necessary medical help I need to complete my trip because there is no way I am leaving early.

    Despite having Bell’s palsy, I still had an amazing week in Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is a very interesting city because it is a World Heritage Site, which means that the cities architecture cannot be altered in any way. Because the city still keeps its bagoda look, it gives the feeling that the culture of the people has not changed whatsoever. We saw everything from an animal sacrifice to the famous Five Story Temple, and in between that we played da cau, a hacky sack version of a badminton birdie, in Durbar Square where my idol David Beckham once played soccer with a bunch of school kids. The food was amazing and I was introduced to “chat.” Now my life or death Nepali vocabulary consists of momo’s, dal, bhat, chat, dhanyabad (thank you), and Namaste. Between coaching, Bell’s palsy, and sight seeing, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Bhaktapur and thank CAC for the opportunity to come here.

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  • Epiphanies in Kigoma

    December 11th 2016. CAC Global Citizen writes about our work in Kigoma, Tanzania with Kigoma Municipal Council on their Connor Sport Court.

    Kigoma was the site of the first-ever Coaches Across Continents program, in 2008. It is a town of about 200,000 on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on the western border of Tanzania. Fortunately, the airport is serviced four times each week by flights from Dar Es Salaam – which saved us a draining two-day bus or train trip last weekend. Its lush green hillsides and the proximity of the second-deepest lake in the world provided a pleasant change of scenery from the dusty plains that have defined so much of our time in this country.

    Though it could certainly have just been the small sample of the community that we had, the relative isolation of Kigoma seems to have shaped the social climate there. When we arrived on Monday, Emily and I were immediately swarmed by throngs of schoolchildren who cheerfully called to us Mzungu! Mzungu!;(which means “white person”) and stared at us in awe and with innocent curiosity – something we had not experienced to such an extreme anywhere else in Tanzania. After the participants asked the children to clear from the Sport Court so we could begin the program, a few remained, and one of our participants (a schoolteacher), frustrated at these few who had not obeyed previous commands, ran towards them and swung a full kick at them so that they scrambled out of his way and off the court – just as he had intended. Out of the 44 participants in the week’s program, just five were women – a more steeply imbalanced ratio than anywhere else on this trip. Early in our session that morning, many participants named witchcraft as one of the things they most wanted to change about Kigoma, a phenomenon not even mentioned once in our other programs the past few weeks. Observing all of this on Monday, I sensed that Kigoma was still fixed to traditions that some other Tanzanian communities have begun to reconsider and reshape, and the idea of our CAC program raising questions about these practices already seemed daunting.  In many ways, our work in Kigoma appeared to be an uphill battle.

    Fortunately, throughout the week there were encouraging signs that some of this could change. In several separate conversations, participants discussed the need to change some harmful traditions (like the normalization of physically abusing children) and how they, holding leadership roles as teachers and coaches, could play a role in driving such changes in their communities. Our program and the games we selected opened the floor for these types of debates, and it felt productive to hear so many people discuss what traditions to change and how to do it, large group conversations which don’t seem to very commonly arise on their own.

    There was one moment though that offered the strongest confirmation of the effect of our curriculum. Midweek, we closed our session by playing India for Choice, a tag game that first creates scenarios of child abuse (regular tag), and then shows how individuals in the community can protect children from abuse (blocking taggers by using the ball). Finally, we designate zones on the field were players can’t be tagged, and the group labels zones as real world places where children ought to be safe from abuse (school and home, etc.). As the game ended and players migrated off the court after our ensuing conversation about child abuse, one teacher stood behind, drop-jawed. With awestruck eyes, he approached us coaches: “That…that…was awesome. Wow.” He was blown away at seeing how a simple field game can be a powerful metaphor for a social topic. Emily and I lit up; what a strong sign that what we’ve invested so much time and energy in has begun to catch on! Witnessing his epiphany was encouraging and inspiring because I know that at least one teacher came away from our program with new ideas about how to discuss touchy topics like abuse with his children and his peers. Even if he had been the only one of our participants to see the potential of using sports for social change (and I’m sure he wasn’t), no step is too small toward allowing a community to reconsider the impacts of some long-held traditions.

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  • Msimamo Standing Together

    December 5th 2016. Blog post from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania by SDL Coach Emily Kruger and Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo about CAC partner program Msimamo.

    “If you are motivated to do Sport for Development by money, then you will not make the biggest impact. Your priority must be developing the children and creating social change.” -Omari Mandari

    This sentiment drives Msimamo, the sport for social impact club in Dar-es-Salaam founded by Coach Omari at his neighborhood field in 2010. He had been coaching at a local chapter of Right to Play (R2P), and when it was shut down in 2009, he decided that his dream of using sport for social impact to improve the lives of children would not die. He convinced R2P to provide him with just enough funding to get his own organization up and running. Now in 2016, between five different locations, there are over 1,000 girls and boys participating in weekly trainings, each with a modest field where four to five coaches come together to lead.

    We had the great privilege of working with the leaders from Msimamo every morning for one week, learning about their philosophies and practices while also sharing some of ours at CAC. Turns out, we are in sync. Massive heart: check. Imagining a more equitable future: check. Laughter, dance moves, loud voices, open ears: check. And above all, believing in the potential of children to make positive choices for themselves and their community: MAJOR check.

    Omari and his team of coaches are developing great players and even better humans. We witnessed them use games to spark conversations with 40 boys, ages 8-12, about the negative effects of alcohol and drugs, where the boys can go to get help if their rights are violated, and the importance of creating inclusive communities. The attention of these young boys was held during each game, during each talking point because the boys had an interactive role in the session. Omari, Amar, Ally, and the other coaches were not dictating what to do or what to say, but instead allowing the boys to share their thoughts and express their creativity. The coaches even encouraged peer leaders within the group of boys to take on more responsibility throughout the session; they told us after that they hope to soon have peer leaders leading games entirely!

    True to the quote from Omari, there isn’t any money in this for these coaches; Msimamo is a passion project. But because most of them have very little formal education, they do not have formal employment during the day, making Msimamo a tough operation to sustain. But they have an idea: a waste collection business. All they need is a truck so they can personally remove, sort, and transport waste from their community to the Dar-es-Salaam dump before they spend their evening coaching. In his characteristically heroic nature, Omari envisions killing three birds with one stone: making their community cleaner and safer, supporting the livelihood of each volunteer coach (some of whom cannot afford to eat more than one meal a day), and continuing his program to educate and develop the children of the community. It is downright inspiring and invigorating to see coaches who have such a passion for their work with children that they are willing to do the most undesirable of jobs to ensure the survival of their program. CAC must continue to stand together with the Msimamo coaches as they give everything they’ve got to the present and future of their communities.

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  • Teaching Self-Directed Learning

    December 1st 2016. Dylan Pritchard, CAC Global Citizen, writes about Nepal during our week with Go Sports Nepal.

    Go Sports Nepal was a great program to open up my three-week stay in Nepal. Go Sports Nepal, founded by Sunil Shrestha, is based out of Gothatar where Mark and I stayed with a very welcoming family. Gothatar is a tight knit community where it seems that everyone knows everyone. Sunil’s father founded a school, his mother owns the oldest shop, and Sunil is the founder of Go Sports Nepal. It was very cool to experience my first week in Nepal with a family that is so well established in their community.

    Every morning, Mark and I would wake up and have a very quaint breakfast, because breakfast is not a big meal in Nepal. We would have bread and tea. Nepalese people really like tea! It seemed every 30 minutes they would have at least one cup of tea. I had a lot of tea but definitely not that much. After that we would ride to the school where the training was held on the back of a motorbike or scooter. Once we got to the school we would check people in then hold the training session. Right after the training session we would have lunch at the school and it would almost always be momo’s, which is like a dumpling. Mark and I looked forward to lunch because we now love momo’s. After that we would have some downtime where we would either relax and plan for the next day or go and explore Kathmandu or the surrounding community. Then for dinner we would always have dal, which is a native food to India and Nepal, along with bhat, which is rice. The only four words I needed to survive this past week were: momo, dal, bhat, and namaste, which is the greeting in Nepal. After dinner we would finalize our plans for the next day then go to sleep. Pretty eventful day that gave us some insight into what a normal Nepalese day would look like.

    When Mark and I arrived for training on the first day, we came to find a lower number of participants than we expected. Despite this, Mark devised an awesome program where we did the absolute best with what we had. This week it was only Mark and I overseeing the program so I did a lot more coaching. I thought I started off a bit rough but by the end of Friday I felt that I got a lot better at the delivery of the social impact in the exercise while also letting the exercise flow and be fun for the participants. The progression was made possible from all the learning I did while watching Mark and the feedback he gave me. As for the participants, Mark and I had to teach the CAC curriculum from scratch as there were no returning members from the program held last year. Even though we had to start from the bottom and make our way up, we felt that we made tremendous strides in large part due to the week planning by Mark.

    The participants started the week off by being very silent and not really answering the questions we asked, and if they answered it would be one-word answers. By Thursday they were answering our questions and expanding on their own thoughts. It was on Thursday when we played a game called “Say No to Trafficking” when we saw that they understood Self-Directed Learning for social impact. Child trafficking was a very important topic that needed to be discussed because trafficking is a huge problem in Nepal. The game is a very simple tag game with very complex social messages. It is basically a game where the taggers are the traffickers and the runners are the children. Interwoven into the game are how the traffickers capture the children and how the children can stay safe with the help of friends, family, coaches, and local programs. The game was a huge success because Mark thoroughly prepared on how to present the game, teach the social messages, and make it fun. The participants walked away from that game not only knowing how to teach their kids to be safe from trafficking but to also teach them about Self-Directed Learning.

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