• “She was prominent. She was confident. She knew the game.”

    January 31st 2017. CAC Global Citizen Taylor Allen writes about her experience working with CAC and the Haitian Initiative in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 

    Upon arrival into Port-au-Prince I could already get a sense of the bustle around the capital city. Our partner arrived at the airport shortly after we landed and drove us to the guest house the CAC team would be staying for the week. The sun was relentless in its heat and humidity, and the amount of cars we saw on the road could rival the infamous Los Angeles traffic. The sidewalks were full of vendors selling t-shirts, shoes, electronics, rice, beans, fruits, vegetables, and drinks. We arrived at the beautiful guest house the local partner offered to CAC, with a beautiful pool in the courtyard, wi-fi, electricity, and three prepared meals a day. The continuous energy that welcomed us as we walked off the plane was the same energy that surrounded us for the remaining two weeks on and off the field.

    It was an amazing opportunity to get the chance to play in Haiti’s National Stadium. The stadium is located near the base of a mountain, which made the views all the more beautiful. Every morning we’d pile into the car and drive for an hour to get to the field that was three miles away. Streets were busy every morning with young children dressed in their school uniforms walking to class along the sidewalk with motor bikes zooming in and out of traffic. This past week we had a total of ninety participants, among them were coaches, players and students. The partnership with Haitian Initiative (HI) is in its fifth year, therefore, the decision was made that by the end of the week Coaches Across Continents would be there as support, while the coaches of Haitian Initiative would run a futbol for social impact program with CAC curriculum and their adapted games they’ve created over the last five years with the participants. The games included some from CAC Curriculum, class sessions with CAC, and adapted games created by Haitian Initiative coaches specifically for the local issues they wanted to address as leaders in their communities.

    In the middle of the week, inspired by CAC staff Emily Kruger and Jordan Stephenson, Haitian Initiative coaches decided to create a list of criteria that they believe encompasses a successful training session for self-assessment and peer-assessment to make improvements. Once this list was created, every afternoon following, the HI coaches would sit down and run through each session from the day and check off (or not check off) the boxes. In doing this, we saw noticeable improvements each day! HI coaches took full ownership of running the program for the week by Thursday and Friday. It was incredible to see CAC’s program come full circle and achieve the goal of sustainable social impact through sport.

    One of my favorite moments this week came from an HI coach named Astrude. Among the HI coaches, there are about four women. One of the women is a powerhouse, she’s one of the best coaches within the group, male or female, her name is Marie-France. When the participants were split into smaller groups, Astrude was paired with Marie-France. I had never really heard Astrude speak, she was quiet and kept to herself often. Then the day came, I could hear and feel her presence on the field, and ran over to catch the rest of the session. She took initiative (no pun intended), she was prominent, she was confident, she was heard, and she knew the game. Not often did I see a woman leading a group of men this week. Astrude was as confident as the best of them while leading a group of twenty-five men in teaching skills and proper technique. She was knowledgable and is a great player to begin with, so you can tell she was comfortable. What an inspiration. She’s surrounded by talkative men throughout the day, but when it was her turn to step up, she filled even the biggest shoes.

    This week was a lot to take in and a bit challenging at first, from sights to smells, to navigating communication without being able to speak the same language. I was lucky enough to learn from the leadership of CAC’s staff Emily Kruger and Jordan Stephenson. They are great role models to follow when it comes to circumventing new and unfamiliar situations on and off the field. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to be a part of. I’ve learned a lot, met a lot of new people, learned a lot of new games, built new friendships, and look forward to keeping in touch with the inspiring coaches I’ve met on this trip. Thank you Coaches Across Continents for sharing what you do and allowing for opportunities, like this, for people like myself to volunteer. I look forward to my next trip to Mexico with CAC!

  • 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.

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  • The CAC Partner Experience

    August 5th 2016. Kebby Shampongo, founder of CAC partner Malalo Sports Foundation, discusses the impact of the partnership on Malalo and the communities they serve in the Copperbelt of Zambia.

    Coach’  – I usually go by Rubén-
    – Yes?
    -‘Could I rest a little bit today before we start?
    -No problem. Everything OK? – He had sleepy eyes and a pale face.
    – I worked the night shift at the mine, but I wanted to come!

    Some of us just continue yielding, happy and without resistance, to the gravitational power of the Ball. After a week full of great commitment gestures and deep and transforming learning in Chingola, Zambia, we talked to our friends of Malalo Sports, a Sports for Social Impact Organization based in Chililabombwe, to discover together how their unique Pathway with CAC will look. With their vision set on evolution and reaching youth nationwide, they shared with us how their work, in partnership with CAC, has impacted the communities of Chililabombwe and Chingola, where they currently focus their operations:

    “The Malalo Sports Foundation has significantly improved in using sports for social change in Chililabombwe and Chingola. It has been three years of great partnership with CAC and Malalo Sports Foundation. Before the partnership with Coaches Across Continents, as a coach and Director of the Foundation, I could not figure out how we could meet the challenges that our young people were facing such as:

    1. Alcohol Abuse
    2. Environmental challenges (trash-Bottles and plastics)
    3. Conflict.

    I have been coaching for years before becoming an administrator. Some of my players play football for local professional teams and international teams across Africa. However some of the boys and girls would not attain the highest level of sporting, moral excellence and community leadership. The partnership with CAC three years ago came at the right time as Malalo Sports Foundation (MSF) collaborates with over 75 coaches from the two communities to use football as a tool for social change. The collaboration has impacted over 5,000 children and young people in our communities. The community leaders and coaches now have been able to deliver the CAC curriculum to the communities and children. We have seen a drastic reduction in the abuse of alcohol, coaches are able to create a safe working environment for the children while internal sporting/community conflicts are being solved by the participants (children and youths). Coaches and teams from local organizations and schools have appealed to our leadership to work closely with CAC and devise innovative ways on how we can replicate this model to other communities.

    It has been a great experience for us to learn from CAC staff and volunteers drawn from diverse backgrounds and cultures over the last three years and we would recommend that we explore future collaborations. We believe sustained relationship with CAC shall highly benefit the people of Zambia . I would also like to salute you for your constant engagement and support. We at MSF have a lot of room to learn and improve even from other communities that CAC serve globally.

    I would also like to salute my team (Able Chewe and Philimon Chitalu) for their tireless efforts despite running on a shoe string budget.

    Sporting wishes to you all.

    Love, peace and harmony”

    We not only desire that they manifest all of their intentions and achieve their goals, but CAC will walk next to them, mentoring, facilitating and serving their purpose.
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  • Integrating CAC Into The Sonora Education System

    An interview with Ana Berta Salazar, one of the authorities of the Education Department, our partners in Sonora, México. 

    February 12th 2016. During our three weeks in Sonora, México, we’ve assisted in the strategic process as the members of the Education and Culture Department (SEC) aim to include Sport For Social impact as a tool for sustainable community transformation inside the public education system. Specifically as a part of the Physical Education Curriculum for elementary and secondary schools. ​​

    Since most of the time you hear how a program went from our perspective as Self-Directed Learning coaches, we wanted to offer this space to one of our implementing partners to share with you how they’ve received the Coaches Across Continents experience in their community.

    Ana Berta Salazar, one of the authorities of the Education Department in Sonora México, said:

    “As the public sector, the Education and Culture Department of the government in Sonora has committed to facilitate the education for children and youth to become people with integrity that can serve our society and community in Sonora.

 As the Director of Linkage in this department I decided to find innovative ways to address subjects of potential social impact, that might promote the improvement of strong values and humanity in local youth. 

We found that opportunity when a member of FESAC (Fundación del Empresariado Sonorense A.C) talked to us about the CAC program. From this conversation emerges a strategic alliance that led to over 200 Gym Teachers receiving the training in 3 of the main cities of the state: Hermosillo, Ciudad Obregón and Nogales.

    Our experience could not have been better: teachers excited, committed and aware of the relevance that their work has with youth that clamor for love and guidance. There is nothing more gratifying than a teacher’s smile. They all attended daily with the best attitude; “This is the type of knowledge we’ve needed for years”, “I’m so happy that I had to tell my family about this”, “we want these trainings to happen again”, “thank you so much for thinking about us” or “yesterday I already started putting in practice what we learned during the morning” are some of the comments we’ve heard so far.

    We know that the effort, the search for spaces and resources to make this happen was worth it. We feel convinced of the impact that this training will have on our children and youth, the future social artists of the development and transformation of Sonora. We are proud to be the first state to integrate CAC’s Hat Trick Initiative into the public education system in México.”

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  • How Can An Empty Beer Glass Stimulate Self-Directed Learning?

    CAC’s Markus Bensch blogs from Tarrafal, Cape Verde on our partnership with Delta Cultura.

    October 28th 2015. Can you imagine how an empty beer glass, a penny and a beer-mat can be related to Self-Directed Learning? Hopefully you will understand after reading this blog.

    It is Saturday night and Frederick and I are sitting in “Burg Pappenheim”, a Bavarian restaurant in Munich. We just returned from our program in Cape Verde and now we are celebrating Bayern Munich’s 4-0 victory against Cologne in the German Bundesliga that we witnessed in the Allianz Arena earlier that day. After many months I was craving some Bavarian food and Frederick, who is a local, took me out to this place. We finished our delicious meal and I am sipping my “winning beer”. As I look across at the table next to us I witness a boy offering a challenge to his friend: on top of an empty beer glass he places a beer-mat and a small coin. He asks the girl if she can get the coin into the glass without touching it. The girl simply takes the beer-mat, tilts it slightly sideways and the coin slides into the glass. She looks happy. The boy is astonished, but after a second he realizes what happened and says: “No, no, no! I didn’t mean like that. That is too easy. You should also not touch the beer-mat!” In the following minutes the two children try to find ways to get the coin into the empty beer glass without touching the coin nor the beer-mat. The whole situation makes me smile. To see these two kids makes me even happier than Bayern’s victory against Cologne.

    Change of location and scenery: just a few days before we are on Delta Cultura’s Football for Hope Center pitch and the coaches are separated into two groups. They are given tasks and they compete with each other to finish them as quickly as possible. First I asked them to keep the ball in the air and everybody has to touch the ball at least once. Both groups start to juggle and pass the ball to each other with their feet. It is very difficult for them to complete the task. Finally they succeed. When I asked them why they didn’t use their hands they said: “We thought we have to use our feet.”

    Is there any connection between these two incidences? I could say that the girl in the restaurant has simply better listening skills than the coaches from the program in Cape Verde. But I think it goes deeper and the situation in the restaurant made me again realize why I love the work I do and why it is important. I want to encourage people to question and challenge tradition, religion and culture. I don’t want them to just assume what might be expected from them. The boy and the girl in the restaurant were facing a problem and then tried to find solutions to it. The adults that were around them didn’t tell them how they have to do it or what the best solution is. I think this is the biggest difference between these two kids and the people in Cape Verde and many other places in the world. I want to encourage those people who live in places with a culture of authoritarian control to find creative solutions to their problems instead of repeatedly trying to make solutions work that they have been told to use. My work is challenging, but often also very rewarding. The coaches in Cape Verde are on the right track as they have been very creative while developing their own games during the partnership. Their games address important social issues in their community such as robbery, social inclusion and female empowerment. As it was the third year of our Hat-Trick Initiative with Delta Cultura the coaches are now able to create and develop their own curriculum which will positively impact the next generation of children.

    Who knows in 20 years I might go back to Tarrafal and while I am sitting in a bar and sipping my beer two children might be sitting at the table next to me and will use an empty beer glass, a coin and a beer-mat to develop their own little challenge.

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  • No Ordinary Days in Cape Verde

    CAC returning volunteer Frederick Schwarzmaier talks about year 3 of our partnership with Delta Cultura in Cape Verde. 

    October 21st 2015. Imagine yourself after a day of work floating on the pleasantly tempered sea. Above you, the sun is setting in a picture-perfect orange sky and from the corner of your eye you see green rolling hills and a quiet beach with several palm trees. It’s a privilege reserved for very few people. However, in Tarrafal, Markus and I were fortunate enough to call it an ordinary day.

    Unlike other programs, in Tarrafal we found an artificial turf with floodlights on top of a hill surrounded by mountains and the sea. This is one of 20 artificial pitches built across Africa by the FIFA Football for Hope Initiative associated with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In this case Delta Cultura was the beneficiary. Delta Cultura, our local partner which we visited for the third time in our Hat-Trick initiative, is a local organization which runs an education center for primary and secondary school pupils in Tarrafal. Its founder, Florian, and one of its tutors, Gilson, helped us around the clock to quickly immerse ourselves into the new surroundings. With the many pupils at the site, we had enough participants to conduct any game.

    Great signs that promised a successful two weeks with the local coaches. But would the local coaches follow through on this promise?

    In our first session in the classroom we chatted about the participants` diverse achievements over the past year and the program’s outlook. It was great to hear that participants implemented certain games from last year in their communities or schools. Some participants even invented new games for International Women’s Day and Children’s Day. Beyond that, one participating teacher had organized a one-week activity at his football school where he addressed school drop-out and teenage pregnancy through Football for Social Impact. These stories were like music to our ears and strongly motivated us to practice on-field with the coaches. As with many of our programs, the issue of tardiness would accompany us during the week. Apart from the tardiness issue, we had found a perfect setting for the program.

    Nonetheless, the area that needed improving the most was having purposeful and efficient discussions. This became apparent during a game of “95% Football” – a game that combines elements of tag with those of football. It was just after I passed the goal line seemingly scoring when the other team started protesting – “A second ball was in play.” A tight group of ranting and flailing players from both teams had formed, The participants embarked on wild discussions without any valuable outcome. We stepped in to provide structure within the discussion. In order to find a solution, the teams decided to designate a captain who would try to find a solution together. A word and a blow – GOAL! The members of the team that had now conceded the goal were noticeably unhappy with the result, again loudly arguing and flailing. Reminding them that we had agreed that only the captains have the final call the turmoil quickly settled. Once more, they nominated a (new) captain to discuss the case with the opposing captain in order to agree on a solution in their favor. Despite the change, the captain of the team I was in must have had some good points because even the newly nominated captain consented – GOAL! Finally, everyone acknowledged the decision and we continued to play with the next dispute just around the corner. Eventually the participants had found a way to solve their problem peacefully.

    Next week we will increasingly focus on game development with the coaches. With a little bit of guidance, we are confident that many new and fun games will be created. For now, all signs point to a successful second week here in Tarrafal.

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