• Building Bonds with Banana Buddies

    CAC Self-Directed Learning Coach Turner Humphries blogs about our time in Apartadó, Colombia with Grupo Internacional de Paz.

    February 21st 2015. Our last stop in Colombia had us traveling up to Apartadó, a small rural town near the Atlantic Ocean close to the Panamanian border. Apartadó was one of the areas most effected by the conflict between anti-government guerillas and paramilitary forces. In this armed struggle the use of child soldiers was commonplace, a topic we hoped to address during our two-day training.

    Through our partner Grupo Internacional de Paz we worked with Funda Uniban – the corporate social responsibility arm of Uniban, one of Colombia’s largest banana and plantain traders. The twenty eight coaches we worked with were mainly comprised of full-time banana farmers who are also involved with the youth teams in their communities. They gave up their weekend to trot around in the hot Colombian sun with a couple of gringos with broken Spanish; learning valuable sport for impact games in the process.

    One of the games that sparked a deep thoughtful discussion on traditional gender norms in Colombia was an Ask for Choice game entitled: Indonesia for Attitudes. In this game you are allowed to dribble forward but prohibited from passing forward. This forces players to take responsibility to find ways to work together in order to successfully operate within the rules of the game. As with all of our Ask for Choice games we incorporate a fact to accompany the activity. With Indonesia for Attitudes the fact is, “40% of currently married Indonesian women believe that a husband is justified in beating his wife for any of five reasons (burning food, arguing with him, going out without telling him, neglecting children, refusing to have sexual intercourse with him).” After reading this fact many of the participants spoke about the gender inequality they see in their communities and the need to move past the traditional ‘machismo’ attitude that still lingers in Colombia. They made a point to mention how that is not simply an issue for women to be left to deal with; both women and men are required if significant change is going to happen. You would be forgiven for thinking you were at a UN conference rather than a bumpy field in banana country.

    Another great gender equality moment came as we finished the long weekend with a full field game of Ronaldo for Fun. This game is your standard two team scrimmage but goals awarded if you complete any one of our three ‘Ronaldo Skills.’ CAC coach Kelly Conheeney laced up her boots and charged onto the field with a look of calm determination in her eyes. Before the opposing team could work out what had happened she had put the ball in the back of the net not once, not twice, but three times. Leading her team to victory and causing multiple opponents to say, ‘That girl can play!’

    Thanks to the hard work and commitment from these coaches the two days went off without a hitch. To end our Colombian journey immersed in vibrant green rainforest and plantain trees was an unforgettable treat. I hope to find my way back soon.

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