• AFC Hosts CAC At Dream Asia Awards

    December 11th, 2017.  Chief Executive Strategist Brian Suskiewicz recently attended the AFC Dream Asia Awards in Bangkok, Thailand.  As a key official Social Responsibility partner of the Asian Football Confederation, CAC delivers various projects throughout Asia including creating Sustainable Community Legacies at the AFC Village in Tacloban, Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan and in Sindhupalchok, Nepal after the recent Earthquake.

    Throughout the two-day event Suskiewicz spoke with FIFA President Gianni Infantino as well other AFC Social Responsibility partners the UNHCR, the International Federation of the Red Cross, and the United Way, about ways to continue to create social change through football.

    During the conference a special meeting of the AFC Social Responsibility committee and partners was convened to Design, Develop, and Implement further social responsibility projects throughout the 47 Member Associations of the AFC.  Joining the meeting was AFC Executive Committee member Ahmed Eid S. Al Harbi (Saudi Arabia), Park Ji-sung (former Korean Republic international and Manchester United legend), and Head of CSR for the AFC, Dr. Anna Ranganathan.

    Awards were given at a star-studded gala on the final night for the best players, coaches, teams, and social responsibility projects throughout Asia for 2017.  A new state-of-the-art mini-pitch was also opened as a Legacy project donated by the AFC.  On hand were the AFC President Shaikh Salman bin Ebrahim Al Khalifa, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, FA Thailand President Police General Somyot Poompanmoung, President of Bangkok Thonburi University Dr Bangon Benjathikul, Dwight Yorke (FIFA Legend), and Park Ji-sung. Altogether 160 refugee and stateless children from Thailand’s border areas, identified and selected by AFC’s Social Responsibility partner UNHCR, were invited to the launch and participated in the activities.

    Coaches Across Continents is a proud partner of the Asian Football Confederation and will continue to create Community Legacies throughout the continent.

    Brian Suskiewicz. (Coaches Across Continents); Dr. Susheela Balasundaram (UNHCR); AFC EXCO member Ahmed Eid S. Al Harbi, Park Ji-sung, P. Ming Wong (United Way), Gwendolyn Pang (IFRC), Shin Chul-soon (Cerebral Palsy Football Korea).

  • One Jaspreet, One Journey

    December 5th 2017. Community Impact Coach Jaspreet Kaur from YFC Rurka Kalan writes about working with CAC during our partnership with Naz Foundation in Bengaluru.

    My name is Jaspreet Kaur. I have done a post graduation course in my own language Punjabi from Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, Punjab, India. In the last 4 years I have worked with Youth Football Club Rurka Kalan. My job is Training and Monitoring officer, this means I look after the Sports for Development sessions at twenty Government Primary schools near Rurka Kalan, sessions taught by our own Youth Mentors who I have helped train.

    This past week was my first time visiting Bengaluru. I was very happy to have this opportunity and I want say thank you so much to CAC. YFC Rurka Kalan has been working with CAC for five years now and I have got a chance to participate as a CIC in this training with the Naz Foundation. I want to share my experience with you regarding five days training of CAC with The Naz Foundation which was held at Don Bosco Mission Skills Institute at Bengaluru.

    The participants came from different cities such as Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Madurai and Bengaluru.

    The five day workshop was based on Leadership, Menstruation, HIV, Conflict Prevention and Gender Equity.

    In the first day some of girls and boys did not speak too much, but slowly slowly their voices got stronger during training. Some of them gave presentations and spoke in front of their other coaches for the first time which was so good to see.

    Naz Foundation is built around coaching Netball which means I learned all new skills for this sport this week. We even made some netball skills called  “Thilaga 1, 2, &3”.  Because the coaches were so experienced, they ended up creating games regarding Menstruation because it is a serious issue that is often overlooked because of taboos. I look forward to going back home and conducting sessions using these games with girls and youth mentors who are working in schools.

    The food of Bengaluru is good. Things I have tasted for the first time include edaly, vadda and Masala Dosa. I have also learned about new apps “Ola and Uber” which helped me get from Bengaluru Airport to Baanarghtta (Don Bosco). 

    It was a great experience for me to learn and share skills with junior coaches, senior coaches and project coordinators. Moreover, I have solved challenges regarding Monitoring evaluation with Charlie and am looking forward to returning to YFC with new skills!

     

  • Oh Yes, We Made a Plan!

    November 14th 2017. CAC Global Citizen and Harvard Alum Heather ‘Action’ Jackson blogs from Nagpur, India about our groundbreaking partnership with Slum Soccer

    I’ve been so lucky as a CAC Global Citizen in so many ways, including having the opportunity to work with longtime partner Slum Soccer here in Bokhara, Nagpur, India. As an outside observer, it struck me that the comfort, familiarity and understanding that CAC and SS have developed together over 8 years, as people and as organizations, created an environment of trust and openness that allowed for real progress to be made this week.

    A common phrase you’ll hear whenever a decision needs to be made is “We make a plan.” This applies to almost any decision that I saw made this week incl: when to leave for Shakti Girls (Girl Power) practice; where to go for delicious Southern Indian dosa and tea; who is going to drive/be a passenger on which motorcycle (all of which read below empty on fuel) and of course which direction to take and grow an organization. Often the decision can take some time; that’s what happens when you have a lot of bright people with different ideas, and/or a lot of bikes and passengers to organize.

    And many plans were made, executed and/or in progress. Highlights include:

    Serious strides in professional and organizational development for Slum Soccer using CAC’s process consultancy framework. It’s not often easy to take the “right” next steps to grow and mature as an organization; the insight and knowledge CAC leaders provided this regard was invaluable and those next steps put into place.

    Development by senior female staff of 3 brand new games for Slum Soccer’s female health & wellness initiative, focusing specifically on menstruation. It was amazing to see the girls open up, voice frustration with, and ask about the verity of, cultural traditions and listen to the SS senior staff support, educate and inform them. You know it’s working and trust exists when the day’s program is ended, and 15 girls are circled around still asking questions and getting answers.

    42 games played with 35 coach/mentor participants, including those designed to address HIV, LGBT, Child Rights and ASK for Choice (Female Empowerment.) It’s truly rewarding to see those girls too shy at the beginning of the week to say anything or even look up from the ground, raising their arms up and shouting “I am strong” or “I have a voice” by the end of the week. Yes change can happen in 5 days.

    An amazing street food tour (once we figured out who was actually on which bike) led by senior SS staff. That “We make a plan” took some time to make following an outing to the cinema featuring Thor, my first Hindi 3D movie, but was so worth it. Thank you Slum Soccer friends and family!

  • Creating Traditions of Woman-Power with Refugees in Jordan

    November 13th 2017. Global Citizen, Ian Phillips, joined us on-field to work with our new ASK for Choice partner, Reclaim Childhood, and their coaches from Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan and Egypt.

    It’s 5am in Amman, Jordan. The first few tentative rays of light are making their way through the night sky. The stillness in the air is broken by the Muslim call to prayer, and the sound echoes across the hilltops, down in to the valleys, and makes its way to my window. The chants are haunting, and beautiful, but did I mention that it’s 5am? The call to prayer rings out from mosque to mosque five times a day and, like the sound that echoes throughout the city, the influence of Islam is pervasive here. It can be heard, seen, and felt in the streets. While this influence manifests itself in many positive ways – such as the kindness, warmth, hospitality and generosity that I witnessed every day, it’s also fair to say that the traditional attitudes many people associate with this part of the world create significant challenges for the women and girls who live here.

    We’re here in Jordan to work with a local NGO called Reclaim Childhood, an organization that uses sport to empower and educate girls. Often, the practices and leagues set up by Reclaim Childhood represent the only opportunity these girls have to leave their house in order to play, exercise, express themselves, and learn important lessons in a safe space. Their all-female staff and coaches are courageous, intelligent, empathetic, compassionate – and inspirational. The highlight of the week was having the opportunity to visit the coaches in action – and seeing a field full of smiling, happy, vibrant young girls. This, more than anything, shows that the efforts of Reclaim Childhood’s brave coaches are worthwhile, and that their programs are having a positive impact.

    The week of training in Amman was an amazing experience. The CAC coaches and myself were able to work with a group of people who are passionate, thoughtful, and genuinely dedicated to creating positive change in their respective communities. I’m grateful for the chance to get On-Field with CAC, and to meet some of the local partners who make this work so worthwhile.

  • Working Towards Equality with Refugees in the Middle East

    November 10th 2017. CAC Self-Directed Learning coach and Sustainability Strategist Jordan Stephenson discussed our first ever program in Beirut, Lebanon with ANERA

    This week Ian, Nora and I traveled to Beirut, Lebanon to work with our partner ANERA.

    The setting for our week was on the coast of the Mediterranean surrounded by large boulders protecting the land from the sea. The length of the training was longer than what I have previously experienced which allowed us to go deeper with the work and allow for more discussions and opportunity for learning to take place.

    ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid) work across the Middle East providing support and opportunities for refugee communities. Our role was to facilitate learning with the coaches and coordinators and ANERA’s sport team which brought 25 people from across the country to a central location for the training. The week was so eye-opening to be able to learn from individuals who have found themselves in situations they did not chose and were able to channel their energy into helping others. My mind has been opened to what it might be like to live in a refugee community, especially those who were born in the country yet still do not have the same rights as nationals, restricting their ability to travel, work, and access education. The idea of equality is something which is often sought; however, in reality it is not practiced through discriminatory policy, laws, and culture which prevents refugees being able to choose their futures in such an uncertain part of the world.

    CAC are in a unique position to work alongside individuals who are actively trying to achieve equality within the community and we’re lucky enough to bring individuals together and create a large network of individuals and organizations through an overriding strategy to contribute heavily towards the development of a better world.

    Many participants identified this training as the best they’ve ever received as they were able to take practical learning away and begin to implement within their communities. Our partnership with ANERA has just started and the team are excited to partner with such a great organization over a sustained period of time. Through this partnership CAC will be able to support refugee communities to both integrate themselves within the communities they find themselves in, but also to allow individuals to reach their full potential.

    As a city, Beirut is diverse and vibrant. This is a city which has faced so much turmoil over recent decades which, undoubtedly, has had an impact on society. The trip to the Middle East has been a fantastic experience allowing me to understand struggles within this area from my own eyes, not tinted from the eyes of media.

  • The Best Thing About CAC

    November 7th 2017. CAC Self-Directed Learning Coach and Social Media Strategist Ashlyn Hardie blogged from Delhi, India where we worked with The Football Link and Foot & Boot

    If you are a regular follower of Coaches Across Continents then you have probably seen our “Best Thing” photos. That’s my job. My job is to ask our partners, and participants – “What do you think the best thing about CAC is?”, and “What did you learn most from this experience?”. Then I share that information with everyone who supports us through our Social Media and Marketing platforms. I spend time every week reading what other people think is the best thing about CAC. But not until this week, not until right now, as I sit down on my flight to leave Delhi and make my way towards Kathmandu did I realize what THE best thing about CAC is to me. And so, in this blog I want to answer my own questions. Most importantly, I want to share the story about the people who made me realize why.

    What is the best thing about CAC? What did I learn from this experience?

    It doesn’t matter where you come from, where you are in the world, how much money you have, what caste you’re from, what power you have, what influence society thinks that you should have – YOU can make the most incredible impact, with everything OR absolutely nothing on your side. This week I had the privilege of working with Praveen, the Founder of Foot & Boot through our amazing partner The Football Link. They have no money, little resources, and hardly have a ground to play on – and none of that really matters. He and his coworkers brought with them 9 of their youth players, who aspire to be future coaches, to attend the training. Those 9 players were some of the sharpest and wisest young minds I have ever had the privilege of getting to know.

    I asked these kids, “What is your favorite thing about your coach”? Many of the young girls said “He tells me I can be just as good as the boys” and “He tells me to believe in myself and my abilities”. One young boy said “He treats me with respect, and teaches me to treat other people with respect”. Not one of these things has anything to do with football or the material things he gives them. They don’t care that Praveen taught them to kick, run, and play good football. What they care about is that he is teaching them to be good people, to believe in themselves, and that he shows his belief in them as people and as players as well.

    There was a moment where I saw Praveen walking alone with his head down deep in thought. When I asked him what was wrong, he referred to a game. He spoke of a game where the players were asked to “run like a boy” and “run like a girl”.  He was heartbroken and disappointed in himself that his young girls were laughing and giggling and making fun of themselves, young women, and how they run. He felt as if he failed as a coach because they don’t realize that means that people have doubts about their ability and that they are making fun of them.

    To be a good coach, to be a good leader, to be a good person – we do not need money or things. He and his team will, as they already have, change the lives of every child they work with. Praveen has given them so much more than talent, a ball, or a jersey. He has given them courage, respect, hope, and other virtues. The young minds are not just strong, proud, independent and wise – they have the hearts of leaders.

    So “What is the best thing about CAC?” – To me the best thing about CAC is that I get to meet some of the worlds most inspirational people. People that surprise me with how smart, clever, and resourceful they are in their environments. These people have the biggest hearts, incredible wisdom, and prove to be relentless in their work bettering the world they live in. The best thing about my job is that I am always learning, always feeling inspired, always seeing something new, and above all – the Goosebumps moments. These are the moments where something happens and everything in your being is so moved by the moment that you’ve had, with the incredible people that you’re surrounded by.

    And, “What have I learned?”. What I have learned, is something that I have already believed, but in this moment, where these kids were doing coach backs like seasoned professionals I realized – Sport for Social Impact freaking works. It freaking works, and it works because of the incredible people backing it. Sport for Social Impact is not something that will save the world. BUT, the coaches and teachers who are involved in the movement – those people will. They will save the world. If not the whole world, at least a piece of their own, and the youth that follow them. That is something that I was , am, and always will be so truly moved to be a part of.

    P.S. On an unrelated note, Charlie and I had a pet mouse in our guesthouse. He came through my bathroom window and lived in our kitchen for the week – After a long stressful process of trying to scare him out of my room! The guilt of terrifying this cute little mouse made me want to feed and name him, which Charlie explained was one of the worst ideas I’ve ever had. Another thing I love about this job – the most unique experiences in which from each and everyone I grow as a person and discover something new about myself.