Join Us as a Global Citizen in 2017!
Join us as a Global Citizen! 2017 has kicked off to a great start with Coaches Across Continents. We have already ran successful programs in Haiti and Mexico and are now heading south to Peru before spreading out into South America, Africa, Europe, and Southeast Asia.
The work we do at CAC finds us partnered with local NGO’s and community organizations all over the world. Through our year-round support, we help these organizations use sport to create spaces where playing games and being on-field translates into learning about relevant issues in communities. Whether these issues are Gender Rights, Child Rights, Conflict Prevention, Problem Solving, Environmental protection or anything more locally specific, the CAC methodology is built around asking questions, not giving answers.
Aside from our multitude of online resources, CAC runs annual on-field programs with these partners, which is where you come in! We want people interested in the world we share. We want them to learn from and work with organizations on one of the 6 non-arctic continents. The sooner we receive your application the more flexibility we have in scheduling! Apply Now!
Since you’ve read this far, it is clear that you should apply. To do so, just click here and send your application to We welcome any questions you have and are here to help anyway we can throughout the process. Looking forward to hearing from you!
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.
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.
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.
Crying is Cool
November 18th 2016. CAC Global Citizen Alicia Calcagni wrote about gender stereotypes in Malda, India with Slum Soccer.
When was the last time you cried? If you’re a man then your answer is definitely, “Never.” If you’re a woman then your answer is definitely, “This morning.” This is a common stereotype across our world.
Last week I was working with a group of 18-22 year old coaches from a village in rural India. We played a game that discussed typical male and female qualities. I introduced it by asking the group to define four characteristics of a man. They shouted, “strong, angry, and happy.” After struggling to determine a fourth, in between giggles, a young man offered “crying.” You guys get the joke, right? Obviously guys do not cry. However, he stopped giggling when I asked him: “Why don’t boys cry?” “Because we are not girls, we are strong.” I should have guessed that. Then I really challenged him, “Even though you do not cry, do you still feel emotions inside of you?” He nodded slowly, uttering a serious “yes.” I am proud of him for admitting this in a world where the cultural norm is to oppress emotions.
We continued our discussion and I suggested that boys are strong when they cry. Maybe you can imagine the crowds response. It was an uproar of laughs and “no, no, no!!!!!” It is also important to note that the boy to girl ratio was 15:8, and the men were dominating this conversation. If no one ever questions then boys will always be strong, and girls will always be weak. Will we ever be able to define crying as strong? I have trouble understating why it is normal to suppress emotions, when 1. It is impossible and 2. Everybody feels them. However, now that it is public knowledge that women AND men have feelings why not give crying a try?
Experiencing Self-Directed Learning
November 14th 2016. CAC Global Citizen Dylan Pritchard wrote about his first experience with CAC and Self-Directed Learning in Punjab, India during our partnership with YFC Rurka Kalan.
This was my first week being a Global Citizen with CAC and it could not have gone better. This week we were in Rurka Kalan, Punjab, India working with the Youth Football Club (YFC). During my preparation for the first week I had no idea what to expect but with YFC in their third year of the Hat-Trick Initiative, it gave me a perfect introduction to what CAC is all about.
At about 1 a.m. Sunday morning, amidst all the smoke and pollution, we pulled up to the YFC facility. The building was equipped with a classroom, a dinning hall, offices, and some rooming for guests. I came to find out later that they also provide room and board for twenty-four football players to play for the YFC competitive teams. We were served breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and I got a taste for the culture because the food was traditional Punjab food, which is not as spicy as I thought it would be. The rooms we stayed in were great and we had nothing to complain about. Then the next day we walked out to an awesome grass pitch with big concrete stands, goals, and all the other equipment we needed. Now it was time to coach.
I’ve done some coaching before but I’ve never done it for social impact or to incorporate Self-Directed Learning. To sit back and watch Markus and Mark my first week was a great experience because I got a feel for what the coaching style was. I grew up believing sports are like life so it was awesome to see Markus and Mark introduce a game and then relate it to the social issues specific to their community and culture. The topics that were discussed this week were gender equity, conflict prevention, drugs and alcohol, and having your own voice paired with communication. They would not just introduce a game and then say this game is for this social issue but they would ask the participants what they think this game is for and walk through it step-by-step on how they think this correlates with a certain social issue. By doing this they were able to introduce the questioning of social and cultural issues through Self-Directed Learning.
The coolest experience this week was on Thursday when we went to visit schools and after school programs to see the coaches that Markus and Mark coached and see how they did with their players. It was great to see that all the coaches did a good job but it was even better to see them have room for improvement, which is very promising. That was not the coolest part though. The most satisfying part was after each visit; every single kid and player would come and shake our hands with a huge smile on their faces. It showed the respect that the coaches had for the CAC curriculum to have their kids come and shake our hands but it also showed the fun the kids were having while participating in the curriculum. It was awesome to see in the first week the effect that CAC has on a community and see coaching for a social impact accompanied with Self-Directed Learning is working.