CAC’s LA Adventure
January 17th 2017. The CAC world has revolved around Los Angeles, USA over the past 10 days. For 4 days the team discussed CAC strategy at the Hawthorne Police Department who kindly allowed us to use their community room. We also covered new aspects of the CAC curriculum on the Chevrolet FC field which is managed and used by the Hawthorne PD to break down barriers between the police and local youth. It was built last year and opened by Manchester United legend Denis Irwin and Gyasi Zardes of LA Galaxy. Towards the end of the 10 days we branched out and fulfilled other commitments in the LA area:
- We ran a session with teachers from 9 different ICEF schools in the LA area (see picture above). This session focused on CAC’s educational Self-Directed Learning methodology. We demonstrated some CAC games to the group of engaged and passionate teachers which led to many fun and interactive discussions.
- Three of the CAC team (Nora Dooley, Emily Kruger and Kelly Conheeney) talked to volunteer Carrie Taylor on her radio show called Women Talking Football which airs on KaoticRadio.com. They discussed CAC’s partnership model and our ASK for Choice initiative which influences gender policy globally.
- CAC’s Chief Executive Strategist Brian Suskiewicz and ASK for Choice Strategist Nora Dooley presented at the NSCAA Convention at the LA Convention Center (see picture below). They analyzed ‘Global Coaching for Social Impact: What US Soccer Can Learn From Developing Countries’. During the convention CAC was also able to meet with many of our partners, old and new.
- Brian was also on a podcast called Youth Soccer Spotlight which is broadcast from Network Studios in LA. They welcomed Brian on to discuss CAC, our work and the work of many of the youth soccer coaches who get involved with CAC. Check out this podcast here.
While it was a very busy week for the full CAC team things don’t get quieter! Some of the team have already gone to Haiti to start our 2017 partner programs with the Haitian Initiative while others have major external meetings planned this week. More on that soon!
Lessons and Hopes for Women and Sport
November 4th 2016. ASK for Choice Strategist Nora Dooley presented our female empowerment program at the IWG Africa Women and Sport Conference.
Why did a white woman from the US go to the Africa Women and Sport Conference in Gaborone, Botswana?
Because our ASK for Choice program is much, much more than any one human being.
But I will not pretend representing something so massive and impactful – and potentially/hopefully revolutionary for the education of girls (and boys in the context of equality) – was easy.
ASK for Choice does not fit into any one box. I would even venture to say that it takes a different shape for every individual who engages with the ASK for Choice curriculum and methodology. But these wonderful, self-directed circumstances of our gender equity program make it quite challenging to present in a 10-minute space for a group of people that have hardly (if ever) come into contact with development through sport (rather than the more widely understood strands of S4D: ‘sport plus’ or ‘plus sport’).
So how do we tell the story of ASK for Choice? And how do we tell it in a way that will somehow allow the magic of it to reach the people who might benefit from engaging with ideas in the spaces that ASK for Choice creates?
I don’t know. But in Gaborone I took a shot. And I met and learned with incredible women (and some men sprinkled in) about their thoughts on the current reality for women in sport in Africa.
In two years the international community will have its turn in Gaborone. And here are my hopes:
– That those present are ready with ideas on the “how” while still engaging with the ever-important “what” and “why”.
– That we don’t forget that less than 1% of all people who play sport are professionals and focus our collective brainpower on the 99%-plus
– That we continue to challenge all sectors to join the conversation and take collaborative measures to move society towards equality
– That the women of ASK for Choice get an opportunity to contribute and share their triumphs
Give Us A Problem… We’ll Address It With Sport
August 4th 2016. CAC’s second year partnering with Menelik Education in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Corruption is an epidemic with greedy claws gripping the international community. Sometimes it dons an invisibility cloak. Other times it stares you straight in the eyes. When corruption made itself abundantly visible to the ignorant members of the global football family, the beautiful game felt violated. So why not use that very game to stimulate dialogue on the issue?
The group of coaches is split into four teams. Each team lines up behind one of four cones equidistant from each other and from the center of the space. In the center lay scattered pieces of any kind of material – cones, bibs, balls, or anything (safe) that a coach can get their hands on. On this day we have cones and bibs aplenty.
The first task: one person at a time from each team sprints to the middle, selects one piece of equipment, brings it back to their team, tags the next person, and joins the end of their team’s line. Continue until all the equipment is out of the middle. Simple? Simple. 1-2-3-Go!
We have a mix of misunderstanding and outright cheating. We clarify rules – one person at a time, one piece of equipment at a time, and the next person must wait until they are tagged before they go. What’s the difference between making a mistake and cheating? Great – we’re on the same page.
Task two: This time each team has a goal of 6 pieces of equipment total and must decide how many of each type will make up the 6. For example they can set their goal at 4 cones and 2 bibs or 3 cones and 3 bibs. Then we will see which team has achieved their goal.
We allow the teams a few minutes. We hear their goals. We take away some equipment to ensure chaos. We test their concentration with some start-when-I-say-go-1-2-3-begins. We play.
We ask if they saw any cheating. They all point fingers at the other teams. We ask if anyone will own to cheating. A few raise hands. We praise their honesty. We ask why they think people, in general, are motivated to cheat? They discuss. We listen.
The desire to win at all costs. Because other people are. Because everyone else is.
How do you feel if you win by cheating? How do you feel if you lose but did not cheat? Why is the fear of failure greater than the fear of dishonesty?
Idea pause. Let’s play again. Do you want to play with or without cheating? Without? Okay let’s give it a go.
Third task: Same rules. But this time once all the equipment is gone from the middle you can begin taking stuff from the other teams. All previous rules remain though – one person at a time, one piece at a time, etc. If you want you can adjust your goals. One minute, then we play. 1-2-3-Go!
Good… gooooood… okayyy… niiiice… well done… uh oh… oh no… here we go…. OH MY CHEATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Absolute chaos. Let’s explore. What happened?
Some more accusations. Laughter. Some honest reflections. Some delicious silence.
Cheating was infectious. Like corruption? How do people become corrupt in your community? How can you prevent corruption? They discuss. We listen.
The group of 30 coaches from Boma, DRC organized by CAC partner Menelik Education, was curious with a dash of skepticism that sport could be used to teach subjects like sexual health and corruption. After growing better acquainted with our methodology and several CAC games, we hope they believe in the power of sport. A power, like any, that can be bent towards destruction… unless we choose otherwise, unafraid to fail, praising honesty and vulnerability as we explore the chaos.
Let us play: Congo Mothers Call for Parity
July 28th 2016. Our third year On-Field with Malaika through the eyes, ears, and words of SDL Coach and ASK for Choice Strategist, Nora Dooley.
“Tomorrow morning we will ask a group of about sixty Congolese men what they are going to do for the women and girls in their communities. What would you like me to tell them on behalf of you, the mothers of Kalebuka?”
It was Thursday afternoon and I was sitting in a circle with my teammates and twenty women, all mothers of children who play at Malaika’s FIFA Football for Hope Center near Lubumbashi, DRC. We had just finished the fourth day On-Field with a fantastic bunch of participants. The group was comprised mostly of returning coaches from the two previous years of CAC trainings, the vast majority being older men with clear experience in both playing and coaching football.
Now, to massively understate, I’ve led a few CAC programs where I am in the minority as a woman. I find confidence here – almost as if the strength of all the incredible females I’ve ever met or known is fueling me in this seemingly boundless male-dominated territory. But looking around the circle at these mothers… I’ve never felt so small. I let go of all personal doubts as to what I was doing there and dove in. I had to hear them – and not just because I was selfishly eager to know even a small part of their stories, but because all week long conversations about gender equity and women’s rights were sprouting up from men. It was past time for the woman’s voice to Mingle Mingle.
We laughed, we listened, we danced. And I carefully noted.
The intense week with the coaches charged my emotions in this session. In four days we had explored ideas about different cultural possibilities, different organized religious beliefs (or lack thereof), and new and different ways to venture into these types of vital discussions on the football pitch. The participants were given the opportunity to identify a specific social issue and adapt or invent a game that would create space to discuss solutions. We danced through the struggles and vulnerabilities of coaching for social impact that – in my opinion – inevitably produce more beautiful music. One of the key conversations was unpacking the coaching toolbox that the participants could make use of if they so chose. A particular tool that came up repeatedly on and off the field was the use of a coach’s ears. And how as leaders we have the option to lecture or listen. The movement from the former to the latter over the course of the coaches’ practical sessions was profound. Our model, demonstrated not forced: their choice.
They chose and chose and chose. And we listened. After two years of Child Protection Policy trainings (bearing in mind the bulk of returning participants) and the outspoken passion these men demonstrated as they brought up gender inequalities as problems, it was time to shake things up for some localized policy design.
The final day began with small group discussions:
Imagine a future where women and men are treated equally: what does that look like for you?
What is preventing this future from being reality?
What must we do to achieve this future? What would you include in a policy/action plan for gender equity – for the rights of women and girls in your communities?
They vehemently engaged, discussed, shared, listed, debated, agreed to disagree on some things, unanimously agreed on others. They had big ideas and some steps in mind to realize them. But there was still an essential missing piece. I told them about our meeting the previous afternoon with the mothers. I told them we had something to add on behalf of those women. I asked the men if they wanted to listen.
They chose, once again, to use those brilliant ears and I was given a most humbling and thrilling honor of channeling the voices of these Kalebuka mothers, echoing thousands (millions?), as I read aloud their call for parity.
“We women have all the same rights as you.”
“Come with us, men and women together, into the community to share knowledge about girls’ and women’s rights.”
“Let us play! You need to create space and opportunities for us and our daughters to play. If you get two days on the field… we get two days!”
“Encourage us, and include us!”
“We are strong, too.”
And if I may be so bold to add… We are women, and we ASK for Choice!!!
Thank You CAC: Humbling Words From a Pemba Participant
May 18th 2016. This blog comes to us from the words of a participant (Hassan) in his speech to CAC staff and guests during the certificate ceremony in Pemba, in partnership with the Zanzibar Football Association, the Ministry of Sports, and Save the Children.
Honorable Minister of Sports, Assistant Minister of Sports, Our coaches Mr. Nick and Madam Nora:
First of all we would like to thank all of you for conducting good, well and enjoyable training for one week. Apart from that we make a promise in front of you that we will protect children and we will stand in front of any who struggle for their rights.
We have special thanks to you for your cooperation during training and general speaking we can’t deny that we enjoy your tactics, techniques, and your innovation. You have bring us in a safe space and now we will use your knowledge and experience we get from you and impart it to our children.
Uncountable thanks should be received to the first coach in the world, Mr. Nicky, for organizing us and make us to feel free all over the time during the training. Throughout the training we learned that:
- Women can do well in sports if they will be supported
- We understand that children have knowledge
- We learn that we should give our children choice
- We learn that we ought to talk with children and not talk to children
Frankly speaking we have learned a lot and we will use all them for social impacts.
Special thanks I send it as my reward to Madam Nora – for teaching us Kuku dance, a lot we may forget… but never Kuku dance.
We have nothing to give our coaches for excellent work they have done to us except to tell them: Thank you very much for what you have done and we will use knowledge for social impacts.
Thanks; Goodbye; See you again; Relax and have a safe journey.
March 17th 2016. Long-term volunteer CJ Fritz blogs from Brazil about our recent third-year training with the Brasilia branch of CAC partner Futebol Social.
Before every program, we try to have somewhat of a plan in place for the week. In the smoothest of scenarios the sessions contour themselves exactly how we would have hoped, and the plan doesn’t have to change. This smooth scenario is also called a “fantasy.”
Every program has, it seems, at least one moment when something unforeseeable happens, and the plan shifts.
Nora and I arrived into Brasilia the weekend of March 5th, ready and raring to get back to work after an extended break from on-field work. On Sunday we sat down and met with our local contact, Karina. We couldn’t speak Portuguese and she couldn’t speak English. Not the plan. Shift. After her son served as a makeshift translator, we learned that we would have 100 participants on Monday. Not the plan. Shift again.
On Monday afternoon, on our way to Taguatinga for our first session, it is revealed to us that we won’t have 100 participants…that number is now 170. Not the plan. Shift.
After revising our plan as best as possible to fit our ever-growing group, we arrive at the university where we will be conducting the sessions. We are greeted by a wall of eager Brazilians ready to get started. The nerves that came with the prospect of coaching so many people dissolved in our excitement to start the program.
After a very energetic round of Circle of Friends, we move on to Mia Hamm skills. We divide the group in to two more manageably sized groups and go to get half of the balls for each group. Turns out there are only 14 balls in total. Time to shift. By conducting most of the Mia Hamm skills with imaginary balls instead of real, we manage to get more people involved in the game.
Throughout the week, although sheltered from the rain by the indoor sports courts, we were not immune to the leaks and small pools of water forming on the courts. Not safe. Shift. With mops at the ready and cones around the more dangerous wet spots, on continued the sessions.
When the Child Rights talk loomed on Thursday, there was one upcoming obstacle that we were able to foresee. Asking 170 people to participate in a discussion and hoping that we could hear from a diverse group of them was not going to happen. Preemptive shift. With the group broken down into small clusters of four to five participants, there was more discussion and wider participation as a whole.
Although there were many moments of uncertainty throughout the week, it turned out to be one of my favorite weeks coaching with CAC. The changes kept me on my toes from the day I arrived until the day we flew out of Brasilia, feeling already nostalgic for a program that had barely finished. Not wanting to let go of the Brasilia program wasn’t what I expected. Shift.