• Online Education Program connects Coaches Across Continents

    February 24th, 2017. Online Education Strategist, Markus Bensch recaps last years OEP.

    In football there is a saying that when a team gets promoted to a higher league, the 2nd year is the toughest one. You must prove the quality of your team once the wave of excitement has faded.

    We faced a similar challenge as we entered into the 2nd edition of our Online Education Program (OEP). We started with a new group of participants in March 2016! There were 12 coaches from 4 different continents (Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe) that graduated in the 2015 class.

    We’ve introduced new technology tools such as hosting quarterly webinars and using an interactive feedback sheet. During the 9‑month program the coaches invested 200 hours on-field and off-field. The coaches implemented games with their teams, participated in 4 webinars throughout the course, shared their monthly feedback online, and entered games on Sport Session Planner (SSP).

    It is exciting to read that the coaches witness behavior change in their players when implementing Sport for Social Impact games! One story was shared with us by Paula, from Brazil, about the youth she works with: “In the group of teenager after playing human rights game, they began to speak more properly about the right to education and for the first time began to remind people in the community who have had their lives changed because of it as an example.”

    The participants went through three Self-Directed Learning (SDL) stages “Educate”, “Adapt” and “Create”, each lasting for 3 months. During the Educate stage the coaches receive a monthly curriculum to implement in their communities. During the Adapt and Create stage each of our 12 graduates developed and implemented 8 new games. In these 6 months each participant also implemented 8 games from other coaches and gave individual feedback.

    Lin from Kenya, now living and studying in the UK, reflected on her adapted game by stating: “Empathy grew as the players began to stop stigmatizing each other. They became less embarrassed and began speaking up about HIV/AIDS and how it is affecting their families and communities. They also understood that silence plays a BIG part in the spread of it.”

    We are very delighted that we now have almost 100 newly designed games available on our online platform SSP, ready to be implemented by coaches around the world. We have also included some of these games in the new CAC curriculum that will begin implementing during our on-field programs. The OEP is becoming a highly interactive program where coaches from different continents and cultures share knowledge, games, and experiences. The coaches have cultivated the skill of developing and designing FSI games, which are fun and educational. Reading the participants’ feedback you can see that they are very excited about their newly gained skills!

    Ryan, from GOALS Armenia commented: “I wanted to make games that that both teach soccer skills and life skills, which is really difficult. After researching and remembering different soccer exercises I was able to apply new rules and create social impact meaning behind that exercise’s technical objective!”

    There are certain challenges to the Online Education Program. Limited access to internet and technology has been the major reason for people not to be able to graduate. Although there are factors in place that make completion difficult for our participants, there are so many incredible success stories that rise from the program! Many participants go on to further schooling, rise to a new level of coaching, or have new found confidence in their ability to teach others. This is what OEP is all about!

  • PILLARS OF SOCIAL CHANGE

    September  7th 2016. Community Impact Coach Paul Lwanga blogged about working with CAC and FHPU Enterprise in Kigali, Rwanda.

    Coaches Across Continents, in conjunction with Football For Hope and Unity [FHPU], conducted a wonderful training program for community coaches in Kigali. 23 coaches from Kigali turned up for training from the 22nd to the 26th of August 2016. Coach Markus Bensch was in charge of the training. He was assisted by Coach Nico Achimpota, CIC from Tanzania, and Lwanga Paul, a CIC based in Rwanda.

    It was exciting to work as a CIC in a new community and the games implemented increased my understanding and that of all the participants. The social messages covered a wide range of issues namely; Child Rights, Health and Wellness, Gender Equality, Life Skills, Drugs and Alcohol Abuse, Problem-Solving, team-building, Environmental Awareness, and Social Inclusion, while pointing out role models like Neymar and Mia Hamm,

    The training also offered opportunities to all participants to observe other coaches coaching. What inspired me the most was how coach Markus create fun education through play and added more playing time with less talking. He also made the players feel the challenge and social message as they played different games.

    The fun and energy from all the participants was exceptional to me. I am indeed privileged to have worked with all of the coaches in Kigali. They were so innovative and creative especially when they coached CAC games or their own adopted games. The CAC team offered guidance and feedback which will help spread the CAC message across different communities here in Kigali.

    Many community coaches were whispering to me that IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE and all CAC games can offer new energy and will to coach social change through football.

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  • Wind Of Change

    June 20th 2016. CAC SDL Coach Markus Bensch opens up on his background and the nature of global change.

    I was born in 1985 in a dictatorship. When I was four years old, people started to go onto the streets and demonstrated against the regime demanding free elections, freedom of speech and movement. On Nov 9, 1989 the wall between East and West Berlin fell and Germany’s re-unification process started. When I was five Germany was a united nation and my country of birth, German Democratic Republic (GDR), didn’t exist anymore.

    Without the effort and bravery of men and women who no longer accepted the situation they were living in, I am not sure I would be able to do the work I do today. My three oldest brothers were 19, 18 and 17 when they were able to travel for the first time in their lives to Munich, Frankfurt or Hamburg, France or England; to the “West” as people were saying in those days. My parents were 49 and 40 when the wall came down. They lived the majority of their lives in a country that didn’t allow them to say what they thought and to travel wherever they wanted. I was too young back then. I don’t consciously remember the re-unification, but my body and my heart have captured these moments, the emotions and the “Wind of Change” for the rest of my life!

    26 years later: A couple of weeks ago I watched a German program where they show cases of crime which they want to detect and with short films they ask the general public for help. They showed one case where a Muslim woman who lived in Germany, divorced from her husband, lost in court the care-right for the one girl-child that she was taking care of. The two boys that she had with her ex-husband where already living with him. On top of that the husband’s family gave her 6 months to also return the dowry (gold jewelry) which she wasn’t willing to do. After exactly 6 months some instructed men from the ex-husband’s family came to her home and simply killed her. To date nobody knows where her body is.

    This story made me angry and fearful. I thought: Now some Islamic based traditions have even come to Germany and undermined our freedom and judicial system. But then I realized that this case made me particularly angry and fearful, because it happened in Germany. At the same time I realized that this happens every day around the world to thousands of women. Why do I feel worse when that happens in Germany than if it happens in Iran or Syria? In this moment something slightly shifted in me. In future I hope I can feel the same pain and discomfort if somebody gets harmed, no matter in which part of the world it happens or which nationality the person has.

    I imagine 30 years from now, in two generations, I might get asked the following questions: There was this country where women suffered from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)!? There was this tradition where women got married as they were still children!? There were people who expressed their opinion and got killed!? There was a country where every 17 seconds a woman got raped (South Africa)!? What did you do about that? How did you feel when you heard about that?

    I want to respond by saying: It made me sad and it made me angry. But most importantly I didn’t want to accept it and I was able to work for an organization called Coaches Across Continents which gave me the opportunity to go to these communities and listen to the stories of women who have experienced FGM or who have been raped or who survived a genocide. But I also got the chance to address these issues and work with local people who wanted to bring change to their community and end harmful traditional, religious and cultural practices. And I am happy to see that you young people don’t need to live in this fear today. I am happy that you have the freedom that you can wear, say, do and go wherever and whatever you want as long as you respect the freedom of your neighbor!

    I am very grateful to my colleagues, our volunteers, and the incredible participants that I was able to work with for being such wonderful people. I love working with you for peace and a liberating future! Thank you!

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  • Online Education Program Runs Across 4 Continents

    April 22nd 2016. In December 2015 twelve participants successfully graduated from the first worldwide Online Education Program (OEP) in Sport for Social Impact. Coaches Across Continents (CAC) was delighted to certify these participants who invested 160 hours each during this 9-month course. The coaches are now qualified to use online technology, including Sport Session Planner (SSP), Skype, and email. Through these skills they are now further impacting children and youth locally and globally by sharing games through the online platform SSP. In 2015 the participants represented 7 different countries on the Asian and African continent.

    This year in March the 2nd year of our Online Education Program started. After the exciting first year we wanted it to grow and give more people the chance to learn using modern technology. We sent the invitation out and within two weeks we received 60 applications. We have been overwhelmed by this high interest. The applicants underwent a very competitive selection process whereby at the end 30 participants were accepted.

    The initial idea of starting an Online Education Program in Sport for Social Impact was that we wanted to offer trainings to coaches that were not able to receive On-Field training with CAC; usually because the safety situation in their community would not allow us to run a program in that particular place. Therefore we are particularly delighted to have 6 participants on the program this year that have never received CAC On-Field training before. Some of the countries that are represented by these coaches are South Sudan, Armenia and India. Looking at all the participants we have coaches from 17 different countries located on 4 different continents: Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. Please have a look at the map below to see that the OEP in its 2nd year has already become a global initiative. The markers represent the locations of all the participants in the 2nd year of CAC’s Online Education Program.

    Our vision for the future of the OEP reflects the idea of being able to run a complete On-Field program without being physically present. Let’s see if we can make that happen for 2017. For now we wish our current participants good luck and lots of fun for this year’s program. Let us grow the network of people who have skills to use Sport and Technology as a tool to impact their communities.

    OEP Map

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  • Excitement, Passion and Learning in Punjab

    CAC Community Impact Coach (CIC) Guru Singh discusses his work with CAC and YFC Rurka Kalan in Punjab, India.

    December 2nd 2015. It was my second year working with CAC as a CIC which makes me very happy. I still remember the 14th of November, 2013 when I participated in a CAC workshop for the first time. The workshop gave me a new way to use football for social impact. This experience changed many things for me. I had been coaching for one and a half years, but I had never used football to address social issues.

    In November this year I joined CAC for the 2nd time as a CIC and I went back to Rurka Kalan, which is a village in the state of Punjab. I assisted Markus Bensch who is one CAC’s Self-Directed Learning (SDL) Coaches. Markus is a great mentor, coach, motivator and a friend. I learned many new games during the one week coaching course with coaches from YFC which stands for Youth Football Clubs as well as Youth For Change. YFC have run a football academy in Rurka Kalan for the past 13 years. From the very beginning they have focused on the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse among the youth and have encouraged them to invest in their education by being involved in sport.

    I am fond of all the CAC games but two of my favorites are ‘Head-Catch’ and ‘95% Football’. 95% Football is a football game but without a ball which is the best part of the game. The rules are almost the same as normal football. You can pass, dribble and score but the only difference is the player who has the ball has to have his or her hand on their head. You can pass the ball by shouting the name of your teammate and you can score by simply crossing the goal line with the hand on your head. The other team can steal the ball by tagging the player that has the ball. This game causes a lot of conflict and cheating. The players need to discuss the rules of the game and also stick to them in order to make the game flow. The participants from YFC had a great time when we played this game and it was impressive to see how teams improved their strategies in order to score more often and win the game.

    YFC is a professional football academy with different disciplines and various other development programs for the town youth to help them change their lives. It was CAC’s second time to teach and learn together with the coaches from YFC and I was happy to be a part of it. It was amazing to see the coaches participate with the same interest and passion as last year. They were eager to learn and gain knowledge from the program. I was particularly impressed by the women who participated in the program. How they raised their voice, spoke up in front of the group and got very competitive during the games.

    I observed that CAC has an impact on everyone who participates in their program. CAC has given me a better understanding of other communities, because I was able to learn about their lifestyle and their culture. It was interesting for me to realize that many social issues are the same in different parts of India. Women and children are the most vulnerable and therefore child abuse and gender inequality are two big issues that CAC always addresses.

    My journey as a CIC with CAC has been wonderful so far, full of excitement, passion and great learning. It’s always football but never the same. I am always excited about the new skills, games and social messages I learn. I feel very privileged to be part of such a great organization and I promise to not keep my knowledge and skills for myself, but share it with coaches from my home community and wherever people are eager to change the society for better.

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  • Eagerness, Excitement, Encouragement

    CAC SDL coach Markus Bensch talks about his time with Magic Bus in Hyderabad, India.

    November 18th 2015. Can you impact a group that you work with for 2 and a half days? That was the question I asked myself when I was approaching Hyderabad for my 2nd program with Magic Bus in India. Tejas (one of our Community Impact Coaches in India) and I arrived together with the participants at the A.P. Forest Academy in Hyderabad on late Saturday morning. This campus would be our home for the next 2.5 days. Due to the Diwali festival the program was scheduled over the weekend and would end on Monday afternoon.

    After everybody’s arrival we ate lunch together and I had to realize that the food in Hyderabad was even spicier than in Bangalore. I had to use quite a bit of the yogurt sauce that was provided to soften the taste. After Tejas, who lives in Bangalore, said that the food is spicy for him as well, I was re-assured that everything is fine with my taste buds.

    After the heat left my mouth again we met for our first session in the classroom. As part of the introduction we asked the participants about their expectations for the course. As they mentioned their priorities I was putting together in my head the curriculum for the next two days. They asked for a game about nutrition? OK, we can play Balotelli for Health & Wellness. They want to get taught different warm-ups? No problem, I can show them many different variations of Circle of Friends. They want to learn goalkeeping skills? Great, I have planned to play Hope Solo Skills for Life anyway. They want to play Fun games? Sure, during Head Catch we will have a lot of laugher. They would like to learn how to easily introduce to topic of sexual and reproductive health to their children and youth? I think our ASK for Choice game ‘Indonesia for Knowledge’ works perfectly for that. And I was excited, because the participants seemed very eager to learn many new things.

    Hyderabad is a hot place during the day so we had to hold back with our excitement and only went on the pitch later in the afternoon for our first On-Field session. ‘Circle of Friends’ already caused a lot of laugher and Mingle Mingle kept the energy high. On the 2nd day we then also got to the topic of sexual and reproductive health. I was not surprised by this request, because I knew that India is a country where people have difficulty talking about any topic that is related to our bodies, sexuality and relationships. Again I was impressed by the eagerness of these participants to change that, because they have realized that keeping these topics under wraps impacts the high number of teenage pregnancies and abortions, forced marriages, sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS. ‘Indonesia for Knowledge’ is a game where two teams are standing in a line and the first two people are facing each other. There is some space between the two players and to their left and right are two gates. One of them represents healthy/positive behaviors and the other unhealthy/negative behaviors. Now the coach yells out different choices a person can make and the respective person in the front has to quickly decide if it is healthy or unhealthy. I started with “Eat vegetables”, “Smoking”, “Drink Water”, “Eat a lot of chocolate” and then moved on to statements like “Have knowledge about your body”, “Use a condom”, “Talk about sex”, “Have a boyfriend/girlfriend” and many more. It was a lot of fun and competition and some of the statements caused an argument as they were not clearly positive or negative. The participants were very grateful for this game as it gives the children the opportunity to make a statement without having to raise their voice and the coach can get a very good idea of what his/her players think about sexual education. They were eager to use it as an introduction before they would even talk with their youth about sexuality.

    At the closing ceremony we got to see a visual treat as Tejas, who is a freestyle footballer, gave us a short performance of his skills. It was exciting to see what can be achieved through fun and hard work and what can be done with a ball when it is in the possession of an artist. And as we were driving back from the camp to the city of Hyderabad I realized that even a short training of only 2 and a half days has impact if it is paired with eagerness, excitement and encouragement.

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