• My Experiences as a Fellow with Dekeyser & Friends

    The Sports Coaching Fellows on DreamPlan Presentation day with our Friend, Jens Lehman.

    July 2nd, 2012:  For the past ten weeks I have been living in Hamburg, Germany and enjoying my experience as a sports coaching fellow with the Dekeyser & Friends Academy. When Nick  forwarded me the email with details about this great opportunity I was a bit shocked that this type of fellowship concerning football and social development even existed. I had to apply and fortunately was selected as one of the fifteen fellows from around the world. Although I was just arriving from England, I was the last fellow to arrive and was greeted by 14 smiling faces of passionate and committed individuals who were all keen to begin our experiences learning new ways of using sport for social development and change. On the first day at the academy we began our rounds of introductions which always included the name and the country. To my right it began- Hello I am Wilson from Kenya, hello I am Manju from India, Hello I am Chiara from Italy and so forth. It was so exciting to hear about the different countries represented in the room and know that we were all there with a common passion for sports and change.

    The ten weeks was filled to the brim with activities, learning sessions, one on one mentoring, media trainings, presentations, sports trainings, expert lectures, team building activities, cultural excursions and more. The fellowship was divided into three components; the challenge with Jens Lehman ( our German friend), media workshops and Dream Plan sessions. I arrived in Hamburg with a plan to develop a football based program specific for female participants and I am now leaving with games, ideas and a program that will soon be implemented with CAC partner programs.

    Dekeyser & Friends’ method of teaching the fellows is a mix of learning by doing in addition to an intensive schedule of inputs. From day one we were reminded that with every input there is an intended output. If we are actively participating in a circus class with youth it is because we should be learning new ways to engage our youth teams, or if we are meeting with a prominent German media company that does work with football for social development NGOS then we should be finding out ways to better our media campaign for our own tournament. There was always a direct link, which meant also that it was essential that we always come prepared with questions and leave with answers or solutions.

    Working with other fellows to create a Fair Play Tournament.

    From participating in the many expert sessions with groups that also work with football for social development I soon recognized that CAC is really in a unique position with the services we provide to our partner programs. We heard over and over the importance of life skills training with football, but yet it wasn’t always clear that groups were using the actual playing environment to teach these life skills. It wasn’t always the case, but I often had moments where I was offering ideas to other groups based on my experiences working with CAC.

    This fellowship afforded me great learnings that I know I will apply directly to my work with CAC and I look forward to further implementing my DreamProject within the framework of CAC’s partner programs. I also was awarded a media fellowship with Dekeyser & Friends which means that I will be documenting my experiences in the next ten months in a short webisode. It will be great coverage for the work of CAC  and our partner programs and it will also provide an opportunity to document my project implementation!