2015 Begins in Haiti
Volunteer Coach,Turner Humphries – formerly of CAC partner Soccer Without Borders Uganda – writes about his first experience On-Field with CAC in Haiti.
January 16th 2015. My first week with Coaches Across Continents started in Port-au-Prince, Haiti working with the Sanneh Foundation and their Haitian Initiative. The program kicked off in Cite Soleil, an area of Port-au-Prince rife with poverty, violence and with little access to health care and education. Despite the obstacles facing the community over 150 coaches from the area and beyond came out to participate in a week long program designed to give them an intensive look at ways soccer games can be used to combat the very social issues they are trying to stem.
One of the days of our program began with a group discussion about the ways in which women are marginalized across the globe. We spent time focusing specifically on some of the issues women face in Haiti: violence, poor health services and lack of educational and professional opportunities. It was a lively conversation that included many varying viewpoints and opinions. As we left the classroom for the pitch it was clear everyone understood that gender inequality is something that is prevalent in their community, but not everyone believed it to be an issue of vital importance. This was the perfect opportunity to introduce the CAC games centered around the adversity women face.
In the first activity the coaches were asked to mimic how each gender does different movements. When asked to run like a man both male and female coaches took off in a charged sprint. When asked to run like a woman everyone took on much more of an exuberant style of running. Upon further discussion it was realized that in fact both women and men run, walk, dance, jump and throw much alike. With the similarities between men and women extending much farther than that, we then wanted to know why then there is still such an imbalance between genders in society. In one particularly powerful moment one of the male coaches addressed the group to say that the difference in gender is irrelevant, that the mere fact that we are all human beings should alone be enough to justify equal treatment.
In another exercise we had half of each team stand stationary while the other team members attempted to score on goal. The stationary players could play the ball but were not allowed to move from their position. As you would imagine this becomes incredibly frustrating not only for the players able to run freely, but also for the players stuck in one spot as they are prohibited from helping their team in a meaningful way. In this game the stationary players were a representation of women in a society that impedes their involvement. It shows that in a society with unequal rights for women everyone suffers.
By the end of the training session the importance of gender equality was felt by all. As we wrapped up the coaches were asked to run like a girl, the group took off running all in their normal stride. As it turns out we are not all that different.