• Beep, Beep! Don’t Hit the Cow! Was That an Elephant?

    November 19, 2013. CAC begins our tour of India squeezing in two days of training with The Football Link (TFL) in the epic traffic jam that is Delhi. This program was a last-minute addition to our schedule, but it was an opportunity we simply could not turn down as we learned more about what The Football Link is doing in the Delhi community.

    photo 1An organization that works closely with the Delhi Police, TFL unites groups throughout the greater Delhi community around the shared passion of football. Two days of training showed CAC staff members, Nick Gates and Nora Dooley, all they needed to see to understand the potential in the future of this partnership. Our coaches were able to meet some incredible people doing incredible things with football in places where even finding space enough to play a small game is a struggle. One group called My Angels Academy welcomes kids from their slum to a very small room to teach lessons about everything from sexual health to extra help with math and science. They wake up before the break of dawn to fit in time on the only space available to them for football games. They are also one of the few organizations around that provides a safe space for young girls to take part in every opportunity also available to boys. After learning more about My Angels Academy as well as some of the other groups that joined our accelerated training, it was clear that TFL is on to something, linking groups that are working to harness the growing power of football in India, and we all know where CAC fits into that equation.

    photo 1(1)The core group that was with us for the two full days of training really grabbed hold of the notion of sport for social impact. All of the 24 games that we managed to get through were big hits, including Skills by Ronaldo, Xavi, Marta, and Wilshere. Some of our favorite CAC “Solve your problem” games left a more notable impression on the group, such as Barcelona vs. Liverpool (aka Lines Game) and Wilshere for Conflict Resolution. In the former, teams are in lines facing each other numbered according to how many lines there are. When the coach calls out two numbers, those two lines have to switch places as fast as they can, with the two teams mirroring each other. This game is oft the cause of mayhem among the groups we work with across the globe and these participants in Delhi were no different. Faced with a problem, they eventually worked their way to a solution, as they did the second day with Wilshere for Conflict Resolution. This game is similar to the “star” passing game that is played on many fields during football practice. The only rule we present to the group is that they have to pass the ball to one line, and run to a different line. Of course problems ensue, lines are unbalanced, lines are empty, frustrations build, and players are forced to resolve their conflict as a team. Then a second ball is added, or players have to play one-touch, and now we are really challenging them. It is amazing to see the way in which groups rise to the occasion, and with coaches, the way they really understand how to coach football for social impact. We create situations where problems are inevitable, step back, watch the conflict unfold, and allow the group to solve it.

    Two great days of training, a small-sided football tournament planned by TFL for the teams of the groups we trained, plus hours and hours of commuting through the absolute madness that is the streets of Delhi, Nick and Nora got quite the Indian welcome in such a short span of time. Our tour of programs continues on to Nagpur, Coimbatore, Mumbai, and then finishes where we started in Delhi where we hope to meet and plan the future of a great partnership with The Football Link.