• Full Circle – 6 Years Later

    August 17th. 2018. Coaches Across Continents CEO, Brian Suskiewicz, writes about his time On-Field with ISF Cambodia working with some incredible participants and people.

    This past week marked a new phase in the CAC/ISF partnership.  At the end of two consecutive Hat-Trick Initiatives (Chance to Choice and ASK for Choice), CAC is now focused almost exclusively on the Process Consultancy Strategic Resources that we can provide to such a distinguished partner. Meanwhile, On-Field the ISF coaches ran the coaching education course using a combination of CAC curriculum and ISF-developed games alongside CAC’s Self-Directed Learning methodology to create Education Outside the Classroom.  Seeing the staff of ISF taking full control of the On-Field training for over 100 local coaches showed this partnership had reached a new level. Already the ISF team are planning another On-Field coaching education at the end of this month in the provinces for coaches in rural communities.

    Working for the past two weeks both prior, during, and after the week of On-Field training was myself, Chief Executive Strategist Brian Suskiewicz.  In addition to observing and mentoring the ISF coaches On-Field, strategic meetings were held with key staff, school administration, the ISF country program manager Vicheka Chourp, ISF trustee Leo Brogan, and other ISF supporters one of which flew in for meetings from Hong Kong.  Key topics that our process consultancy covered was developing their soccer program M&E, and then how to use that information to better tell the impact their soccer program is having.  This includes their work with 4,000+ children in Phnom Penh creating Education Outside the Classroom, as well as their exemplary work with all-abilities children that earned them a 2018 Beyond Sport Award shortlist (winner announced September 12 in NYC).   We also mapped out ways to continue working together through potential joint-funding opportunities, which will combine the expertise of both organizations.  And finally we discussed internal improvements using our Workplace platform to inform our partners about webinars, monthly UN SDG curriculum, child and women’s rights policy creation, UN Global Days, Youth Leadership Courses like our MJYL program, and more.  These are all a part of our 28 year-round strategic resources that CAC uses to help our partners develop the organizational development and individual professional development in order to best impact their communities.

    Finally, it was a great personal experience for me.  Six years ago ISF initiated a conversation with me and CAC and our partnership began. In these years we have seen the ISF soccer program grow into an initiative that magnifies their work in their two schools, with their soccer program creating Education Outside the Classroom.  The ISF Soccer program also hosts domestic and international soccer events including the Ian Thompson Memorial Boys Tournament, the Goldman Sachs Girls Tournament, and the All-Abilities tournament each year, as well as the impact they are having on hundreds of local coaches and thousands of children annually.

    Fortunately, we will see each other again soon in New York City on September 12th, when the Beyond Sport Award Winners are announced.   Fingers crossed for ISF and all our six partners (plus ourselves) who were shortlisted!

  • It’s Your Turn

    August 17th, 2018. Global Citizen, Rosa Morales, writes about her experience working with ANERA and their team of Life Skills Trainers throughout Lebanon. 

    “It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger knocks.”  – Dina Nayeri

    Despite the image that western media attempts to portray, Lebanon is a country filled with diversity, where people, both old and new, coexist happily with their various religions and communities. With approximately seven million people inhabiting the small country, a long history of civil conflict, and the current refugee situation, Lebanon has a diverse history that isn’t quite like any other country. This rich history has even misled Americans into believing that Lebanon is dangerous and that tourists should refrain from traveling outside of Beirut, the capital. However, after traveling throughout the country’s many historical cities and meeting a tremendous variety of incredible people, I beg to differ.

    Working with ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid), a nonprofit that continues to “help refugees and others hurt by conflicts in the Middle East live with dignity and purpose,” has opened my eyes to the situations that millions of people suffer from every single day. Coming from a privileged family, I have not had to worry about not getting an education, not being able to attain good health care nor clean water, or even be discriminated against in a community and country that you were forced to escape to. However, after spending eight days in this stunning country filled with such bright and beautiful people, I have come to the realization that we, the privileged, have to stop acting like these battles aren’t also battles of our own.

    ANERA, throughout Lebanon, from north to south, east to west, continuously provides safe havens for youth and teachers to go to in order to develop knowledge on their life skills, health and wellness, and overall rehabilitation in a foreign country with the help of Coaches Across Continents. Alongside this, they have connected thousands of Palestinian refugees to reliable sources of water, helped youth return to continue their education, as well as, renovating important structures, buildings, and organizations in their communities.

    Though, the real question is: When will YOU do something?

    People are always talking about wanting to do better for others, to see others achieve great successes, and practicing selflessness. However, they have not taken the initiative to actually do so. If you are in a position of privilege, it is important to realize that you have the ability to change a tremendous amount of people’s lives. In the greater scheme of things, the quote “help your neighbor” becomes incredibly prevalent. Your neighbors, peers, teammates, coworkers may all be undergoing some type of stressful situation that you could potentially help with. If you hear calls for help, whether they are subtle or more obvious, be there for them.

    ANERA and CAC have both contributed to this cause, but when is it going to be your turn?

    After spending a total of three weeks abroad, attempting to use sport for social impact in a variety of communities, I have broadened my knowledge and witnessed those who fight wars much harder than any battle I have had to face in my lifetime. There are people who are surviving off of nothing, when I have been living, thriving with objects that these same people may yearn for but may never see. It is time to give back to those who have faced enough hatred, trauma, and discrimination for the rest of us. Thus, I encourage you to lend out a helping hand for human kind and change the world one day at a time.

  • There and Back Again

    August 9, 2018. Community Impact Coach, Patty Caceres, writes about working with CAC Community Partner Gawad Kalinga in Cagayan de Oro, Philippines with Coaches Across Continents Self-Directed Learning Educator and Team Leader,  Charlie Crawford.

    Back in 2014, my mother, one of my three older brothers, and I went for a short visit to Cagayan de Oro (CDO).  We took an eight-hour bus ride from Davao, our main vacation spot that time, to visit the Priests of the Sacred Heart Seminary in Aluba, CDO, which my mother sponsors.  We never really got to see much of Cagayan de Oro so I vowed to myself that I will come back one day. When Coach Charlie Crawford of Coaches Across Continents (CAC) found out that I was back in Tacloban City, my hometown in the Philippines, after working and living in Spain for a time, he asked if I would like to lead the first year CAC Sport for Social Impact seminar in CDO with him.  Of course, I obliged, after all, it seemed to be the Universe’s way for me to fulfill my vow of returning to Cagayan de Oro. It’s also been awhile since I’ve coached football, and haven’t led a CAC seminar since 2016 (Baybay, Leyte in the Philippines and Jakarta, Indondesia) and it’ll be nice to catch up with a good, old friend after a few years.

     The five-day successful CAC seminar was the result of the collaborative efforts of Gawad Kalinga (GK) thru Mr. Jun Degayo, GK Mindanao Child and Youth Development Coordinator and Ms. Marlyn Importante, GK SipaG Manager, the Cagayan de Oro – Misamis Oriental Football Association (CMOFA) thru its President Coach Percy Guarin, the City Government of Cagayan de Oro, local barangay officials of Brgy. Pagatpat, the Department of Education, and the faculty and staff of Pagatpat Elementary School, the venue of the training, thru its dynamic principal, Ma’am Jenifer.  Of all the CAC seminars I’ve attended and facilitated, this CAC training was by far the most organized. Kudos to everyone behind the success of the seminar, especially to our 46 coach and teacher participants who came from all over Mindanao and ranged in ages from young ones to young once.

    The seminar was not just a learning experience for our participants but also for us trainers.  I personally realized that we all have the power to lead change and progress by starting with a small group of people and that in all the little good things that we do, we can inspire others to be better versions of themselves.  The CAC training, they say, was really inspiring. The participants have always been used to a traditional kind of seminar where lecturers lecture and participants just listen. They never thought that social issues can be discussed through fun games and that football and any other sport, for that matter, is a great tool to educate, inspire and empower children, youth and adults.

    I believe that the participants came to the seminar with an open mind to learn and they left with a full heart to address the social unjust in their communities through education and sport.  I came to the seminar with a full mind, eager of sharing my knowledge of football for social impact and I left with a reignited passion for coaching and a full heart filled with thank you’s, smiles and happy memories of the seminar.  As I write this, I wonder at how my little assistant coaches at the seminar are doing. The three pupils of Pagatpat Elementary School, who instead of staying at home since they didn’t have class, came early to the venue, patiently waited for Coach Charlie and myself, Coach Pretty’s (their words not mine) arrival to help out in little ways they can, I hope to hear from you and your teachers and that you’ll continue being good, respectful and helpful children.  Children like those are our hope for a brighter future, and are the reasons why we do what we do. Going back to Cagayan de Oro has been a dream and it was made into a reality for me this year. Another dream that was made into a reality was my wish of getting a new malong, I was thinking of buying one before leaving CDO but lo and behold, the thank you gift that the principal and teachers of Pagatpat Elementary School gave me, Coach Charlie, Coach Percy and Sir Jun were malong handcrafted in Mindanao.  The Universe has its funny way of giving you what you want and need all in perfect timing.

  • The Most Valuable Toolset

    August 8. Meghan Fligg from CAC partner based out of Barnstable, MA, USA shares her reflections after our first ASK for Choice: Education Outside the Classroom training with United Kidz Soccer Development (UKSD) and South Shore Select Soccer Club. 

    Something we have learned through our journey here at UKSD is the importance of making partnerships. For the past few weeks, we have partnered with South Shore Select and Coaches Across Continents in order to enhance all of our abilities to reach kids through the game of soccer.

    South Shore Select is an all girls soccer club located in Hingham, MA. Although they focus much of their work on building talented young athletes who are both technically and tactically educated, they are very much aware of the importance of helping their players also build their sense of character, commitment, leadership potential, and global awareness. It is because of this that Select welcomed, with open arms, Coaches Across Continents hands- on-training. Over the course of two weeks, Select Coaches, along with our very own UKSD coaches, actively participated in CAC educational sessions. However, don’t let the word education make you think of classrooms and books. The CAC staff had us moving, playing, thinking on our toes, and having deep and meaningful discussions.  Their mission is to use sport as a means of community growth and awareness. They knew that with a pitch full of coaches and even some players that the best way to do this was through the game itself.

    Because CAC tailors their curriculums to the communities they are serving, they asked Select and ourselves what topics we wanted to focus on in our sessions . They wanted to know what we felt we needed in order to strengthen the kids we work with. We each came to the decision that some of the main focuses would be women’s empowerment, gender equity, leadership, healthy competition, and the definition of success. Throughout the training, these topics evolved in the most thoughtful and organic ways. Each coach was able to add their insight, experience, and how they could and would implement the lessons we were learning into our sessions with our kids.

    The beauty of our discussions were that there really was no wrong answer. Each coach was encouraged to take what they could from the different activities and games and find ways to adapt them depending on the age, diversity, needs, etc. of the particular group we would be working with. Every one of us walked away, day after day, with valuable skills and lessons we could implement immediately.

    It was in discussion after the trainings that we collectively recognized something; this type of player education could, quite possibly, be the most valuable toolset we could ever give the kids we work with.

    Although some will go on to play at the collegiate level or pursue careers having something to do with soccer or sport, many will pursue other endeavors. We need to give skills which can transfer from their training on the field to whatever it is that they choose to do off of it.

    We’re so excited for this partnership we’ve built with South Shore Select and Coaches Across Continents. It’s not everyday that an established soccer club will make time for this type of work. Even though winning may be important, they recognize that building youth with exceptional character is far more important. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for each of these organizations and our connections with them.

  • Safe Space

    August 6th, 2018. Community Impact Coach, Jaffar al Shishani, writes about his experience working with Coaches Across Continents in Armenia and Lebanon with GOALS Armenia and ANERA.

    Getting out of your comfort zone is not as easy as I thought it would be. After the last two weeks in Armenia and Lebanon with CAC this was the first thought that crossed my mind.

    Coaches Across Continents made it possible for me to explore new opportunities and deal with different cultures by applying a method based on creating a safe space where coaches and participants can be free to try, apply and exchange ideas. This safe space allows both sides to grow together and gain experience.

    Being used to working in Fencing,  an individual competitive sport, the experience with CAC was a very important chance for me to concentrate on different goals, and especially to reconsider the social impact and the power that sport can have to change society.

    One focus of our work in particular was on women rights and the use of sport to empower women.  Learning and applying CAC methodology also increased my own awareness of the constant violation of women rights in society, and gave me a different perspective on the subject. This kind of awareness will be very valuable and helpful in my development as a coach and I will try my best to use it to work for a change in my own country of Jordan. The desire to create a more equal society in my environment was a strong motivation to take part to this program in the first place, and CAC provided the safe space that I needed to develop ideas and strategies to work in this direction.

  • FINDING YOUR VOICE

    July 19, 2018. Coaches Across Continents Global Citizen, Rosa Morales, writes about her experience working on field with GOALS Armenia in Martuni and Gyumri, Armenia for the third year of the ASK for Choice partnership. 

    “I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard … we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”  – Malala Yousafzai

    There are many individuals who have the luxury of being born into a privileged family, where they have little to no concern in regards to the realities those in developing countries face. However, although those in westernized countries do not face the hardships that are faced elsewhere, they are still battling for similar rights. Being a woman, no matter the location, is a constant battle and through my experience with Coaches Across Continents (CAC) as a Global Citizen, I have become increasingly aware that we must raise awareness and encourage the younger generations to fight for their rights through a voice that has been suppressed for centuries.

    In Armenia, women have been suppressing their voices due to a culture that emphasizes the man’s power. Here, women are seen as weaker than their male counterpart, diminishing the power of their voice based on the outdated concept of their place being at home, in a kitchen. However, women and organizations throughout the country have taken a stand against this. One nonprofit organization, GOALS Armenia, has taken a stand.

    GOALS, Girls of Armenia Leadership Soccer, an organization that “empowers youth to become leaders through the creation of safe spaces, speak their mind, and challenge social norms,” has primarily been focusing their largest impact on young girls. By targeting a younger audience, they provide the means to make an impact on social issues sooner than later – hoping to raise enough awareness for a more equal life for proceeding generations.

    The participants that CAC worked with in Gyumri, Armenia struck me the hardest. The majority of these participants were women, attempting to make a difference in their communities. They were included in trainings and discussions that focused on methods to gain confidence in oneself, raise awareness on the many complex manifestations of discrimination in their country, and matters to make a positive, lasting social impact. Here, they were granted a voice that would usually be suppressed, allowing them to express the things that make them uncomfortable.

    Topics ranged from gender inequality, inclusion, racism, sexism, religious views, and homophobia – each resulting in the group agreeing that educating and raising awareness within their communities will have the largest impact in regards to changing to a more progressive viewpoint.

    As Malala stated in the quote above, we must raise our voice, not only for us, but also for those whom are denied a voice. By utilizing our voice to spread awareness on the inequalities and injustices that occur throughout the world, we raise awareness to allow for progression towards a more equal world. We must help each other to accomplish our goals, to progress as a human race. Thus, we must be compassionate and empathetic; we must remove ourselves from our comfortable, privileged homes and expose ourselves to the uncomfortable situations that millions of people experience daily.

    While we are growing up, our parents tell us to “change the world,” to “make a difference,” but instead, we have been so focused on our personal growth that we forget that without others, we are alone. If we wish to strive for a world of opportunity, we must think about those who receive so little. We cannot change the world and make it a better place if we are working on doing so by ourselves – what would take us centuries to complete as individuals would take us far less time if we worked together.

    As an individual in a more progressive society, we must forego our selfish nature and begin to focus on the “WE,” instead of the “I.” We can no longer ignore those who are crying for help from all around the world, but instead we shall join forces. Together, we can give a voice to those who have been voiceless, give strength to those who have been denied of their abilities, and allow their stories to be heard by those who have ignored them for so long.