• Emulating Self-Directed Learning

    February 20th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Taylor Allen writes about her experience working with CAC and FESAC in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico.

    The Coaches Across Continents team landed in Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico at 11:30pm after four two-hour flights. While a bit exhausted we were greeted by a bubbly character by the name of Andrea from the local partner, Fundación del Empresario Sonorense (FESAC). She hit us with a burst of energy that quickly permeated our sleepiness. This is an energy that we would continue to experience with the participants throughout the week! Hermosillo reminded me a lot of home in Southern California. Paved roads with some street vendors selling delicious tamales, tacos, and fresh fruits.

    The first day the partner took us to Náinari Lake. It was the place to be! Everyone was there. Vendors were selling food and drinks, there was a stage with live music, people were on pedal boats across the lake, zip lines longer than a football field were hanging above the lake, we saw birds being fed, trampolines being used, and countless children in battery operated cars driving around in front of their parents while they walked the perimeter of the lake. It was stunning. We were able to walk around and watch the sun set over the lake until it became too chilly. Then the partner took us back to our hotel. It was a nice break before getting the week started.

    This week we worked with Physical Education teachers and students in the Hermosillo area. The teachers were eager to learn and get started. A lot of them remembered a couple of the games from last year and mentioned they used them throughout the year. We were told that one of the teachers even took the CAC curriculum they learned from last year to nearby after-school programs outside of Hermosillo. What an impact! It was so great to hear about the CAC curriculum making it’s way around Sonora, Mexico after teachers had gone through the training last year. This group was ready and engaged. As new games were being presented they had plenty of questions, conversations and creative solutions to current challenges facing their schools today. This group was so involved that they were able to adapt games on the spot when asked how they would change the game to make it even more relevant to what they face as Physical Education in schools in Sonora, Mexico.

    Seeing this group take to the CAC curriculum so wholeheartedly, the CAC team decided they were ready for the challenge to create their own games in the realm of health and wellness, bullying, and inclusion issues. These issues were the main conversation points throughout the week. The teachers created teams of three to four people to collaborate, create, and deliver a new game that addressed the three main points above. The CAC curriculum “students” were now becoming the creators! The resources CAC supplied them with in regards to games, social messaging, and questions allowed this group to continue in their learning, challenging of concepts, and adapting to make them relevant to their area. It was phenomenal to see how well the games addressed certain issues and how well the teachers emulated Self-Directed Learning within their sessions. One of the Physical Education university students absorbed CAC so much that she wanted to know more about the philosophy and volunteer opportunities. Below is her story:

    “My name is Dayanna Enriquez from Hermosillo, Sonora, Mexico. I attended the training sessions this past week. I currently study physical education and as a student, the sessions Mark, Taylor and Emily provided taught me so many things when it comes to teaching children. How simple games can impact the lives of so many kids and the way we as teachers can help them grow and accomplish many goals in life.

    The week was very productive with a lot of fun games and lessons learned. We had lots of fun and they actually inspired me to find out more about the organization Coaches Across Continents to see if there is any way for me to volunteer and try and help others make the world a better place.

    I want to thank Mark, Taylor and Emily for providing me with the opportunity to take part in the weekly sessions. Also I want to congratulate them for their enthusiasm and their great outgoing personalities that made this course lots of fun and a great atmosphere for us to learn while enjoying ourselves.

    Hopefully one day I can get a chance to become part of this great experience!”

    Coaches Across Continents has created a space for teachers at different schools to come together and start a conversation around how they can overcome the biggest issues facing their kids today. The CAC curriculum has already sparked action within the teaching community in Hermosillo.  After successfully taking on the challenge of creating their own games with social messaging attached, the teachers are motivated and determined to continue the work and adaptation of the CAC curriculum to address relevant issues in their communities. I look forward to seeing the growth of this group in the next few months! Great job CAC!

  • Soccer Sisters

    February 2nd 2017. Blog from partner Soccer Sisters, discussing CAC concepts. 

    How Sports Taught My Son To Solve His Own Problems

    (And Do His Own Homework!)

    My fourth-grade son hasn’t missed a homework assignment in 18+ weeks. Talk about a revolution. That’s 18 weeks and counting without him forgetting a single assignment, log signature, reading, permission slip or long-term project.Nothing short of a miracle. For some context, in the past, labeling him lackadaisical would have been a compliment.

    So what turned him around? Lectures? Bribes? Threats? Nope. He used something called “self-directed learning” from playing games on a soccer field.

    As an advocate for girls and women in sports, I am a big believer in sport for education and this summer our family took a service trip to Armenia with Coaches Across Continents, the world’s largest charity that uses sport for education. The CAC curriculum relies on “self-directed learning,” which means kids play games based on soccer drills that create conflict and the players solve their problems in order to win or play.

    The games were fun, but the message repeated over and over again was simple and genius: “Solve your problems. Solve. Your. Own. Problems.” Not the parent/coach mantra of, “Here, let me help you. Let me show you. Do it this way.” The framework for learning was soccer and fun, but the message was unusual. Most of the time, either on or off the field, we tell our kids what and how to do something and think that is the only way to teach or play.

    When we, as parents, solve our kids’ problems, we are hampering their ability to solve them on their own. In my view, that’s exactly when parents and coaches get tuned out like all the adults in a Charlie Brown cartoon. Remember those? Wah Wah Wah. Blah Blah Blah. Words Words Words. Instead, imagine the fun and challenge of playing games where teams have to move a ball together around a cone with all members of the group touching the ball at the same time but without using their hands or feet. How do you do that? Well, figure it out. Solve your problem.
    It was simple and genius and I am convinced that something about those games on the soccer field clicked for my son. He learned to take care of fourth-grade business. I have been watching his complete turnaround over the last six months. At first, I thought it had to do with just turning ten. Or being in a different classroom.

    But this week, I was convinced it was more than that. He has late soccer on Tuesday nights, getting home at 8:45 p.m., still having to eat dinner and shower. Usually he’s too worn out to read after all that, so he does it beforehand. On the way to soccer I asked him if he had completed all his work, and his 30 minutes of required nightly reading. Surprisingly, he hadn’t.

    Every one of those 18 weeks he got a star sticker for doing all his homework – and he really likes those stickers. I said, “OK. Well, I’m not signing your reading log if you don’t read, so you are just going to have to figure it out.” No signature, no sticker.

    From the back seat came his answer: “This was totally my fault and my responsibility.” I think my eyebrows reached my hairline. He got there on his own and acknowledged that it was his problem to solve. In the bustle of dinner and dishes, I promptly forgot all about it until I went up to his room after washing up. He was in bed, still in his soccer clothes, finishing his reading.

    He’d solved his problem. I felt like the Ponce De Leon of parents. How did this happen? Without me doing anything? Then it hit me. William learned it all on a soccer field – and it was fun.

    I realize that few people have the opportunity to go on a foreign trip with an organization such as CAC, and to learn first-hand the kinds of exercises that focus on “self-directed learning.” But you don’t need a passport and a plane ticket to learn it. So much of it is already ingrained in the culture of sport, in the teambuilding and problem-solving that happens on the pitch at practice every day.

    For William, the message reached him in a way that 1,000 wah, wah, wah morning lectures on responsibility never would and never did.

  • 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:

    1. 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.
    2. 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.
    3. 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.
    4. 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!

  • Celebrating Successes and Constantly Improving

    January 11th 2017. CAC strives to improve every day. During our meetings this week at Hawthorne Police Department in Los Angeles we are reflecting on the successes of 2016 and discussing how we continue to be an organization which provides year-round educational consultancy and mentorship to create social impact through sport. Over the past day our meetings have included extensive sessions on:

    • Monitoring and Evaluation in every aspect of CAC’s work
    • Online Education Program and the use of technology in our partnerships
    • How to develop our year-round resources offered to all of our partners
    • The Self-Directed Learning methodology and how it applies to each partnership
    • The progress and development of the Community Impact Coach initiative
    • Our ongoing use of social media and this website!

    CAC is adept at working in many sectors. Alongside more meetings this week we will also be presenting at the NSCAA convention, running a session for public school teachers in LA, talking on a radio show and working with the Hawthorne Police Department to engage children in Hawthorne. We are delighted to continue to build our productive partnership with the Hawthorne PD who have been very kind to allow us to use their meeting space.img_1732

  • Designing, Developing & Implementing CAC

    January 9th 2016. The CAC team of sport for social impact experts are meeting this week in LA, USA. Yesterday was the first full day of the meetings between the team to learn from the 2016 successes and build towards an even better 2017. The Hawthorne Police Department have kindly allowed the team to meet in their conference rooms, following the development of our partnership in 2016 which aims to use sport as a tool to break barriers in the community.

    The meetings provide an opportunity to discuss all aspects of sport for social impact. On day one discussions included:

    • 2016 successes
    • The 2017 vision
    • The ASK for Choice gender equality initiative
    • The Self-Directed Learning model
    • Our revised and improved sport for social impact curriculum

    Over the next few days the meetings will cover all aspects of using sport for social impact globally to enhance the resources we can offer community partners, government partners and corporate partners. Later this week the NSCAA convention will be coming to LA. Two of the CAC team will be presenting on what US soccer coaching can learn from developing countries.

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  • The Beauty of Sindhupalchok

    December 16th 2016. Dylan Pritchard blogs from Sindhupalchok, Nepal where we work with Childreach Nepal.

    In my last week with Coaches Across Continents, Mark, Tejas, and I were with Prateek and Shamsher of Childreach Nepal along with Pema who is a leader on the Michael Johnson Young Leader course in Manekharka, Sindapalchuk. Manekharka is a small village that is only five hundred meters long in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountain Range. It took us three different jeeps to get us there from Kathmandu in six hours. For only about thirty minutes of that six-hour drive were we on paved roads. The rest of the time we were driving up and down mountains on rocky dirt roads. It was a rough ride to get there but once we got there it was absolutely worth it. The beauty of the place stunned Mark, Tejas, and me. Manekharka is at the top of a foothill so you can look down and see a beautiful valley filled with terrace style farming. When you look up you can see some more beautiful foothills and can even see some peaks of the Himalayas. On the first morning Mark and I decided to hike to the top of the mountain we were on so we could get a better look at the peaks of the Himalayas. It was super tiring but we made it and snapped some awesome photos before we realized that we could possibly be late to our first training session. We booked it down the trail and ended up about half a mile away from the tin house we were staying at with only ten minutes to spare! We had to get some directions from some little girls, jump down some farming terraces, and jog but we made it because all the coaches and players came an hour late. So we had breakfast, got dressed, and made the five-minute walk to the training field.

    The setting for the field was stunning. It was not a very nice pitch but it was nestled on a terrace in the mountain and was surrounded by houses and animals with the Himalayas in the background. Only pictures can do any of the views I am talking about justice. This week’s program was set up the same way as last week in Bhaktapur except the players were older. It was an awesome week and I finally felt that I actually made a difference with my coaching. I worked on all of the points I have received from the coaches I have encountered on this trip and it culminated with this week. This week I taught all of the skill games that are modeled after famous football players. The way these games work is you do three different skills over the course of the drill and while you do the skill you must say what skill that is, such as “Ronaldo 1!” The drill works on soccer skills but it encourages the player to become more comfortable with their voice. Later on they then have the chance to choose what skill they want to do which reinforces the Self-Directed Learning part of CAC because they now make the decision on what skill to do instead of the coaches. What made me happy was that in the player’s spare time in between drills and during water breaks they were doing the skills and saying the skill aloud like I coached them. This is a reflection of their eagerness to learn and play football but it made me giddy inside knowing that I aided in the process of sustaining CAC curriculum past the time I leave. This was the first instant I felt the affect of coaching and it will definitely not be my last. During this past five weeks it has helped me realize that football must always be part of my life and coaching would be a great way to do that whether it be part time or full time.

    I have had an awesome time this past five weeks learning about football for social impact and I would like to take this time to thank Coaches Across Continents for giving me this opportunity. They say on their website that you will not understand what football for social impact is until you go on a trip and I cannot agree more. The experience I have had learning about different cultures through soccer has been one of the best of my life so far. I owe a special thank you to Mark for putting up with me for five weeks but also teaching me so much about coaching, being a leader, life, and myself. The concepts I have learned from you on this trip will serve me for the rest of my life. Thank you again Coaches Across Continents for this experience and hopefully I get a chance to work with you again in the future.

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