• 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.

  • I Will Be Strong!

    July 28, 2018.  Board member Dr. Judith Gates is with our team, back in Kigoma, Tanzania where we held our first-ever program ten years ago. #CAC10.  #WhatsYourLegacy?

    “I Will Be Strong!”

    These were the final words I heard amidst all of the goodbyes, exchange of email addresses and chatter about selfie photo ops that invariably mark the end of a Coaches Across Continents programme. Teachers and coaches were jostling with each other and sharing plans as to how they were going to put all they had learned that week into practice. The group of students, identifiable by their green uniforms, were talking enthusiastically about new insights gained.

    She came up to me. Tall and athletically built, she unexpectedly hugged me, kissed my cheek and said, “Thank you. I will be strong!”

    My spirits soared. I understood what she was saying. I knew what she meant.

    This week’s programme was to mark the 10th anniversary of Coaches Across Continents. Ten years ago the very first CAC programme was held in Kigoma, Tanzania. CAC had returned to mark this important anniversary. It all began here. From one programme in one country in 2008, CAC is now working in over 50 countries around the world.

    All week, with Nick working alongside Nico as leader, the group had focussed on the challenging issue of Child Rights and Child Protection. Curriculum activities had included games in which participants had identified sources of potential harm, recognised the varying forms of abuse, identified who could be of help and which places could be considered safe. They had explored attitudes and expectations relevant to their local community. Teachers and students had shared ideas together during the games, but also worked separately to discuss factors which were specifically relevant to their age group or profession. They had then talked with each and demonstrated their capacity for understanding differing points of view.

    I had led a discussion on abuse. I asked which form of abuse, physical, emotional, verbal or sexual, was most prevalent in their community. Hesitation was minimal. The vast majority of both teachers and students cited sexual abuse. Teenage pregnancies were high. Girls were forced to marry at an early age. Hunger and poverty led to girls being sold, or selling themselves, sometimes for only a bag of rice. The boundary between Child Rights and Women’s Rights blurred as they explored the reality of life for young girls in their community.

    I asked teachers and students, each in their separate group, to think about what could be done, how things could improve. Acknowledging the problem openly was seen as key. The students suggested media reporting, government intervention. Their message was clear. We deserve support and help. Children should not have to experience these things. Teachers suggested education and parental involvement. Both groups wanted answers and action. The aspiration of the girl students was to complete their education and find a job, so that their subsequent life decisions were made from a position of relative strength.

    The final words I shared with them were about personal responsibility. We can turn to others to make the changes we want, but we each have the capacity to influence in some way the context in which we live. I asked them to be strong. I asked them to contribute to the changes they hoped for.

    I told them they each could be part of the solution, they each could contribute to making Kigoma an even better community.

    And she had heard me. Her final words were of latent power, of commitment, of hope. “I will be strong!” That is the message CAC endeavours to leave behind, hoping that it will take root and contribute to locally desired community changes around the world. Another first for Kigoma!

    ~ Dr. Judith Gates

  • Global Impact of the Year Award Shortlist: Beyond Sport

    July 24, 2018.  Coaches Across Continents #WhatsYourLegacy? was officially shortlisted for the Global Impact of the Year Award by Beyond Sport.  Selected from over 400 applications, from 100+ countries and covering 53 sports, the shortlist recognizes the standout work of organizations who are creating positive social impact in communities around the world through sport.  On September 12, representatives of each of the organizations will attend the 10thannual Beyond Sport Global Awards ceremony at One World Observatory at One World Trade, where the winners of each category will be announced.

    Coaches Across Continents is the Global Leader in Education Outside the Classroom. Additionally, we are the only global NGO providing year-round process consultancy resources to partners. By using our Self-Directed Learning methodology, CAC mentors organizations through our Hat-Trick Initiative to create legacies of positive social change based on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

    Through our dedicated process consultancy, Coaches Across Continents has worked with Corporations, Governments, Foundations, and Community Based organizations in 56 countries to Design, Develop, and Implement Sustainable Legacies of positive change through Sport for Social Impact.

    Our work and expertise has been recognized through 24 major global awards, invitations for countless international presentations and annual keynote speeches, published methodology, and CSR work in 23 countries for corporations and foundations.

    Our work has impacts over 16 million children annually, and our Corporate Partnership Legacy Program influences 100,000,000+ consumers. In addition to our work with Corporations and Foundation, CAC is also the Official Social Responsibility Partner of the Asian Football Confederation.

    2018 marks Coaches Across Continents’ 10-year anniversary, and this week CAC Founder Nick Gates is in Kigoma, Tanzania to celebrate.

    #CAC10
    #WhatsYourLegacy?

  • 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.