To Lima, to the Coast, to Huachipa!
April 12, 2017. CAC Process Consultant, Charlie Crawford, writes about CIC Daniela and program in Lima, Peru.
Arriving in Lima, Peru felt like stepping into both a foreign world and coming home at the same time. While our program would start on Monday, I was able to spend Saturday exploring the latest CAC office and surroundings before meeting up with fellow Coaches Across Continents staff Mark Gabriel, on Sunday. This opportunity led me to a bubble of Peruvian culture expressed along the jagged coastline spotted with public parks. Bike paths, futbol fields, and countless shady palm trees lined the winding cliffs and overlooked the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The highlight of this coddiwomple was stumbling onto the Park of Love, where mosaic tiles, colorful flowers and a massive statue of a loving couple holding each other in their arms helped create an atmosphere of comfort, connection and intimacy all in this beautifully publicly acknowledged space. Families, couples and friends would sleep, relax and spend their sunday in the best possible way here, in this paradise of a setting.
Every program is different. After working off-field in recent weeks, it was extraordinary to get back on the job with one of our strongest past participants and CIC’s, Daniela Gutierrez. Daniela has had consistent experience with CAC in past Peruvian programs which made working with her directly an obvious step. Currently working with Liga de Futbol Feminino e Integracion Social, Daniela used some of her connections to local schools and Sport for Social Impact individuals to organize a training in the neighborhood of Huachipa. This is an area no small distance away from central Lima. Through travels so far, I’ve found that many inhabitants of big cities tend to claim the ‘world’s craziest traffic’ title. While it’s my thought that no one has enough experience to empirically determine this, I’d be willing to consider Lima as a possibility. Public transportation is built around these monumental highways sunk into the hills and valleys of the cityscape. Within these highways are designated lanes for public buses and it was partially through these buses that we would travel to our venue every day (often with multiple taxis included in each direction of the trip). The training itself centered around a local school in Huachipa and the mothers of the students. Clearly new to the idea of Sport for Social Impact, we were able to introduce these parents to using sport in a way to address Gender Equity, Conflict Prevention and a number of other topics in our time together.
Mark & I met and began working together less than a year ago with CAC in Cambodia. In the months since, we have coached together and played in half a dozen countries. Starting this next stretch with him couldn’t have gotten off to a better start and working with our new partner, Futbol Mas, in the coming weeks only makes me more excited. Let’s go Lima!
Encuentro Internacional de Educatión Física
August 7, 2016. This past week CAC Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz was a key presenter and speaker at the Encuentro Internacional de Educatión Física in Lima, Peru hosted by the Ministry of Education. This international meeting is a space for exchange of experiences, ideas, practical implementation, and strengthening teaching practices. CAC was invited to present at this prestigious conference based on our partnerships and relationships within Peru with numerous groups such as UNICEF, various ministries, and other strong NGO implementing partners. One of our member partners, Fútbol Más, also presented their curriculum and methodology at the conference.
Attended by over 2,000 practitioners, teachers, coaches, and pedagogical members of the Ministry of Education and other government officials, the international conference will launch the new National Curriculum and aim to strengthen physical education and school sports across all levels of Basic Education (preschool, primary, and secondary). Registration for the conference exceeded 8,000 people, but space limited the attendees to only 2,000 individuals. The Ministry of Education live streamed the event for more inclusion. Presenters included experts in all fields of physical education from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, France, Peru, and Spain, Chile.
During the conference Brian was interviewed by TV Peru (national television) and ANDINA, a news agency owned by the Peruvian government. On Thursday, newly sworn-in Peruvian president Pedro Pablo Kuczynski was shown on morning television with his cabinet exercising, sparking an interest in the physical education conference.
CAC’s methodology and curriculum has been well received and adopted by various government ministries, community partners, and NGOs during our year-round partnerships in the past several years. This presentation will further enhance this exchange of ideas and practices as well as strengthen our relationship with various Peruvian agencies that wish to create pathways for social change through sport.
Passion Transformed Into Action: The Story of ASK for Choice in Perú
May 17th 2016. CAC’s ASK for Choice leader in Lima, Daniela Gutiérrez, tells Peru’s ASK for Choice story as if it is 2026.
Although in English words don’t seem to rhyme
When a woman expresses ideas like this,
People see it as a crime.
We were born without apple,
chained by the past,
shorn of the present.
In this world social classes are an illusion,
only from our mind confusion.
We are all unique and necessary,
Universal Rights, Humanitarian Rights.
Let’s make this life a “Choice party”
Bring our nation to the heights,
the indifference and inequality that women suffer,
makes no man tougher.
Over the years, we’ll tear down those fences.
Crush the status quo.
Nothing justifies the intolerance of our differences.
It all started with a group of brave, enthusiastic women, they were not sportspeople, some of them did love sports, however they shared something: all of them were ready to come together and join forces to help change this world of inequality, violence and lack of practice of values.
It all started on that Tuesday (May 3rd 2016), everyone full of energy and open to experiment, we started the training, and the fun started as well (that was all that mattered). With time questions emerged, deep and challenging about the issues they faced as women in their society, questions that found few or no answers. I could only encourage them to think about what they could do as women with all the capacity to change their reality. Then some clarity sprouted from their hearts in form of proposals “workshops with girls in El Agustino (and their dad’s as well), raise our kids respecting all human beings as equals, work with the rest of the moms of the community so they know they have a chance to decide…” And we left that encounter with the commitment to change our lifes.
In 2017, with twice as many women compared to the year before, 45 magical women with a great vibe! All of them sharing their powerful testimony about how playing the ASK for Choice games and all the conversations and group dynamics helped them to make some choices that would change their lifes, some of them even ventured to play the games with their families… The pieces started coming into place and things started to make sense for us…We were so excited!
8 years later, in 2024, Asked For Choice had grown so much in Perú, we no longer worked only with women from El Agustino, but with communities from all over the place, the Jungle, Los Andes and the coast. We decided to visit our awesome pioneers, what a great surprise we found: Outstanding leadership workshops for girls and women, women’s (and mixed) sports teams and leagues, art workshops and the best: women replicating the ASK for Choice experience with their community.
We continued our work, with more and more diverse women every time, similar in their desire to heal the world and make it a better place. We kept in touch with all of them and when we left they sent photos and videos of how well they were doing, the joyful experiences they were having, and in every place, no matter how far apart from each other, the same magic spread.
2026, 10 years from our origin, with this marvelous project that started with the pure intention of co-creating a fun space for women to play and share.
Not everything was easy. In many communities, when we went with the intention of giving women choices, we were faced with ignorance (both from man and woman), when we asked the questions, sometimes we found the same answers that created all this inequality, we thought that they might not understand, or that we were doing it all wrong…
However, at the end, even after all that struggle, we found a surprise that filled our hearts, in every community that benefited from the ASK for Choice movement (yes, now it had become a movement in Perú) we saw dads taking care of the household and taking kids to school, women directing massive building projects, boys dreaming to become chefs, girls playing with cars and soldiers. That was the best proof that all the effort from us, and especially from all the women in Perú had worked. Inequality and violence almost didn’t exist, it became a thing of a dark past. We felt so so happy and satisfied!
We only have one question now, for our present work: Are there any places remaining in Perú that still need this work? We have a very hard job ahead of us, finding these places would be almost impossible…
Self-Directed Learning Catches On In Peru
CAC’s Rubén Alvarado writes from Peru and our work with UNICEF Peru.
October 27th 2015. “No”. The word spoken with peaceful insistence, without the intention of pressuring or convincing. I take the risk, full of hope, and explain the meaning and the value of a “Yes” in the request that I’d just made. “No me gusta que me tomen fotos, me pongo brava” (I don’t like photos, I get angry). The answer followed by an implacable smile, implacable because of its honesty. And she walked away from me, and I walked away from her, joyfully resigned to my defeat, because she used her voice, did not impoverish herself in order to please someone, she let her freedom flourish.
Esmeralda, 7 years old, lives with her family across the street from the pitch in “El Agustino”, in Lima, Perú, where we held our trainings during the first week there, with various diverse organizations that use sport as a tool for social development, with magnificent results. She would cross the street every day in order to beautify our learning space, but also to teach us powerful lessons.
She surrendered to the game in the absence of answers, or when she did not not how to do what the game demanded, or even when she did not quite understand what happened at all. She rested, even if the group continued playing, if her body asked for rest. She played, even if the group rested, if her heart asked for play. Once, when the coaches discussed how to fix the world’s problems, she went ahead and made a colorful path made of cones, maybe to guide us in that venture. Another time she would pick up the cones that we would not use anymore, without us asking, and did it with such will that she even gathered the ones we would use in our next game! “Will we play more games today?” If she found a negative answer to this (daily) question, she would leave. Why would you stay in a place where all the fun has finished?
Quick reminder, we in CAC do not coach children directly, we coach coaches who educate children, Esmeralda joined the training spontaneously, lucky for us. In our Messi for Conflict Resolution game, participants make 2 lines and everyone has a number. The coach calls out one or more numbers, and the people with the called numbers have to run around their lines and arrive to the same or a different place inside of them, depending on the instruction. During it, Esmeralda seemed alert, she observed her teammates, went over, both mentally and with her fingers, the mathematical movements needed to succeed. Nora called out her number and she ran around her line towards her new, but well studied, place in the line. She knew exactly what to do, I listened when she spoke to herself. Right before arriving, her teammates (adult coaches) started telling her what to do, where to stand and how to do it. You might ask “what is wrong with that?”. Nothing, at all. We practice Self Directed Learning, because we believe that it honors our capacity and freedom to decide, even in these seemingly irrelevant scenarios, like arriving to your new spot in the Messi for Conflict Resolution game. I told you this long story, not to make someone wrong, but so we could have a shared image from where I could offer you something that, in my perspective, functions as a core component in the creation of spaces for Self Directed Learning to emerge: Trust.
We reflected on this issue with the group. Do we trust our kids enough to make their own choices? Do we think, maybe unconsciously, that we know better than them? How does this idea influence their learning? When does authority enhance growth and evolution? When does it not? How can we respect their freedom to decide at all times while coaching? And the reflection didn’t end, even when the trainings did. And we hope it doesn’t.
People learn better when they make their own decisions, on how to best resolve their problems and also, how to best manifest their intentions. Creating safe, intentional, containers for this active and explicit decision making process to occur, achieves equal relevance to their learning as the content learned. “The medium is the message”. In this way, the structure enables participants to use their voice at all times, not only when playing games or when reflecting on something, but at all times and in different forms of expression.
After our Child’s Rights session we ask the coaches to commit, through a promise, that they will always protect children from all the different types of violations that might affect them. This time we let the coaches write their own promise, so it felt closer to their hearts and minds. We gave them time and space for the magic to emerge. After some time we had 15 adults performing a short but potentially award winning play about violence and how to overcome it, that ended with them reading their promise out loud and our frenetic applause. We could have had told them what to do, but we didn’t, and that happened. Magnificent unexpected outcomes take place in safe, intentional Self Directed Learning environments, if we trust people and the process.
The group concluded this deep and fruitful session with gratitude and eagerness to continue exploring these topics, methods and models of education, and of course, to start playing the games in their communities. It feels like this program also helped them come closer as a network of sports for social development. Esmeralda got an acknowledgment as an honorary participant of our program. She left to school that day with an even bigger smile and dirt on her face and knees, evidences of major success.
I’d love to show you a picture of her but, well, you know that story…
Work Hard, Play Hard – Week 2 in Lima, Peru
November 4, 2014. Volunteer Coach Tomas Torres-Tarver of the One World Futbol family worked with us earlier this year in Colombia and Mexico. He returns to the field for two weeks in Lima, and writes about his experience during the second week of trainings in partnership with UNICEF Peru.
On Monday October 13th I woke up at 9:15 am, excited to start my second week with Coaches Across Continents in Peru. The first week had gone very well, so I could not wait to see what this week had in store for us. I was excited to meet all the coaches and teachers that were about to take part in this tiring but amazing weeklong course. So I made myself some eggs, grabbed some coffee, and was ready to go alongside Nora, Billy, and Mauro (Community Impact Coach from Colombianitos) to see how this week would pan out.
When we first arrived at the school we quickly set up and asked the Baseline questions, which help us evaluate how much the participants know about sport for social impact. Then we went to the field and started with Circle of Friends, which is a game that is designed to get participants talking and feeling a little more comfortable with each other. The group started off a little tense probably because they did not know what to expect, but once they saw how we connect the games to real life the group quickly started getting more involved in the conversations.
One game that had particularly positive impact was the Lines Game. In this game the group is split into two teams and then each team is divided into four groups. Each group on each team is numbered one through four. The two teams line up facing each other standing in lines ordered one through four. When the person leading the game says any two of the four numbers those two lines switch as fast as possible but only with their own team. The first team that gets into its new position wins the round. This goes on multiple times and depending on how fast the group gets the game we start adding new rules like no talking. It was unbelievable how fast this group picked up the game, so we decided to test them: if the person leading the game put up only one number, the two groups with that number would switch across to the other team’s side and this would change the teams. This was one of the best games of the week because it was where the participants really started to understand the idea of this training. To finish the Lines Game we asked the group if they could identify the social message of the game and they said, among other things, communication, problem solving, and working as a team. These were great answers as one of the most important aspects of this game is allowing the players to come up with their own solutions instead of the coach interfering with the problem-solving process. We hope they carry this lesson and coaching style with them into their fields of work, as it is crucial in creating self-directed learners.
After a great first day, we were invited to stay and practice with the Escuela de Futbol Feminino, a women’s semi-professional futbol team and one of our partner programs in Lima. The girls were awesome and they put us through some of the drills they do on a regular basis, leaving me panting and out of breath by the time I was done. Then we got a chance to play with them in small-sided games, which was a blast. We got to play with these girls three out of the 5 days after our sessions, which was inspiring because in many of these young ladies’ communities they are told that women cannot play futbol. The passion and love for the game that drives these girls to play is truly amazing, and I’m very happy I got a chance to coach and play with these incredible young women.
During one of the afternoons later in the week we went to see one of the largest impoverished communities of Lima. We went to a school where there were only two teachers working with many children. The work they were doing was amazing, it was like they were the only two people in Lima that knew about this section of the city, or that everyone else had forgotten or didn’t care about this large Brazilian favela-like part of Lima. We shared some of the CAC games with the children, which was difficult for me because I had been left speechless thinking about how a city could just forget about such a large part of its population. We ended the visit at the school with a little futbol match with all the kids. This was a truly moving and humbling experience.
The last day of the program came so fast, and it was evident that all the participants had really learned and taken to heart the new coaching style we had taught them over the past five days. It is a very good feeling having all these people coming up to us and thanking us for coming to their community and helping them learn how they can have a greater impact with the kids they work with. I couldn’t help but think that I had learned so much from these amazing coaches that really do what they do because of the love they have for their communities, and that passion is an amazing thing to be around. I feel so lucky that I got the opportunity to work with CAC and hope to be with them again in the future to do more of this incredible work.
Self-Directed Surfing and Learning in Lima
October 22, 2014. Volunteer coach, Billy Hawkey, writes about his first week on-field with CAC in Lima, Peru.
This past week I began my journey with CAC in Lima, Peru, eager to see how this world operates, and how futbol can be used for social impact. On the Sunday before the program began Nora, Tomas, Mauro, and myself met with the coordinator at UNICEF, Seppe Verbist, over a delicious lunch at a local Peruvian restaurant where I tried my first chicha morado, leche de tigre, and enjoyed multiple family style platters of fried fish, sweet potatoes, ceviche, and more. Business talk was limited during the meal, but with the nature of our work being such an integral part of our lives, and with a Serie A game playing in the background, it was only natural that some of the discussion surrounded futbol for social impact, sport for development, and the manner in which CAC aims to convey their social messages and develop leaders into self-directed learners so they can breed future generations of intuitive, progressive thinkers in their respective communities. Hearing all this was exciting, but as I have heard many times until that point, I needed to see it, and be a part of it to fully understand how CAC works. We met back at the UNICEF office following lunch to discuss the plan for the week, and what both sides of the partnership were hoping to achieve.
On Monday, Nora, Tomas, Mauro, Seppe and I were driven to San Juan de Lurigancho, a district of Lima located about 45 minutes north of our hostel where we would hold the trainings for the week. We were stationed in a massive park with tons of courts, fields, a boxing gym, swimming pool, and a BMX track. On the drive in I got my first glimpse of a more realisitc side of Lima. We are staying in Mira Flores, a fairly wealthy and touristy area of Lima, sheltered away from the disproportionate distribution of wealth that looms over this region making it one the most unequal cities in the world in terms of socioeconomic status. I observed mountainsides packed with small houses, stacked one on top of another, that looked as if they were constructed out of the earth. I learned that very few of these homes have running water or electricity, and those that did were not receiving those luxuries on a consistent basis.
When we arrived at the park we met the program participants for the first time. The group had representation from ten different groups, spanning from Lima to the Amazon. We were very grateful to have representation from implementing partner CARD-PSB, a USAID funded NGO located in the Amazon. There were futbol coaches, basketball coaches, volleyball, boxing, and a chess teacher. There were professors and representatives from the Olympic Committee. It was a diverse group, and overall fairly futbol oriented, but we enjoyed discussing and having volunteers demonstrate adaptions to the games we played to fit their respective sports. Throughout the course of the week the message was stressed that as a coach, you also can perform the role as an educator. What I am learning is that CAC uses the field as a place to learn not only about futbol, but about life, and the coaches have the power to educate their children about much more than the game . We covered a wide range of topics throughout the week inlcuding gender equity and female empowerment, violence, sexual health and good decision making, conflict resolution, communication, teamwork and child protection. After each game, and sometimes before and during, a discussion was held in which the participants had the liberty to say what messages they took away from the game. The messages derived from the games were unique for each person which made it extremely important to create a safe space for discussion where all voices could be heard. As the week progressed, everyone was seeing more and more the parallels between the actual games and the greater social impact that they have.
One game in particular that was very successful with this group was Child Rights: Right to Education a game focused around the power and importance of education. The format of the game was simple. Two teams played a regular game of futbol to goals. When a team scored a goal, they were granted the oppurtunity to construct a smaller goal anywhere along the outside of the field that they could score on. Each team could set up a total of four smaller goals around the field, resulting in a total of five goals to score on. Only after all four additional goals were set up could the teams begin to count their points. Before the game began we asked the participants what each goal would represent with regards to education. They said that each additional goal would represent a new level of schooling: initial, primary school, secondary school, and universities. The game was fun and dynamic, and lots of goals were scored. In our discussion following the game we asked the participants how this relates to life. They said that with greater levels of education, the more oppurtinuties you have in life. When each team was limited to only one goal, it was much harder to succeed on the field; similarly with only a very low level of education, or with no education at all, your oppurtunities are limitied. It was pointed out that for some children, school is not an option for a variety of reasons. However, what arose from the discussion was that as coaches, we can educate children on the field. We can motivate children to stay in school and help open their eyes to the value of an education.
By the end of the week myself and the participants grasped what it means to coach sport to have social impact. I believe also that they and I learned a great deal about what it means to be a self-directed learner. The participants heard many times throughout the course of the week “resolver sus problemas”, “solve your problems.” The participants did not need the CAC coaches to hold their hand and show them the answer. It was up to them to find the solution on their own or as a team. Children do not need coaches or teachers to spell out every little detail for them and simply asking for the answer is taking the easy way out. By providing individuals with the freedom to explore all options, and to come to the solution on a path that they devise themselves, they are learning so much more than being told a finite solution. This approach challenges people to solve their problems on their own, taking personal acountablilty and learning through their actions, experiences and listening to others. It was clear that many of the coaches embodied this style of leading by the end of the week when they coached games on their own as part of our Coach-Back process.
It was a fantastic week and the group was extremely appreciative of our work and similarly we were extremely thankful of their great energy, passion, and desire to learn. They will now take the lessons they learned and the games we played to their respective courts, fields, and communities to educate and lead Peru’s youth.
Side note: On our day off I went surfing for the first time. Lima, and Peru in general, is home to a rich tradition and culture of surfing so I figured it was about time I gave it a go! No lesson, just put on my wetsuit, grabbed the board and dove in. I guess you could say it was self-directed surfing.