• Cultural Differences, Cultural Development

    April 18th, 2018. Community Impact Coach, Lorik from GOALS Armenia, writes and reflects on her experience working with ANERA in Lebanon. 

    As a Community Impact Coach, I joined Jordan from CAC in Lebanon. On the third week of training, we moved from the seashore to the mountainous region of Zahle. The taxi driver who took us to the region was very kind and stopped every now and then to allow us to take some photos of the beautiful view. Later on, we arrived in Zahle; we were staying in the area of Maronite Christians, which was surrounded by statues of St. Charbel and Maryam. We descended towards the lower part of the mountain to Saadnayel, which is the beginning of the Muslim region – and where we were holding our training.

    The participants of the training were of different nationalities, including Palestinians and Syrians. They had different backgrounds, cultures, religions and beliefs. Seeing past each others differences is one of the most important factors in life skills through sport for social impact games. There were challenges in implementing the games because of cultural difference and the interaction of both genders; the problem was solved by using alternative methods – ex. tagging or holding hands through use of the bibs.

    During the first day, men were playing very rigorously during the games, which made women want to sit at the back and not show any willingness to participate. By bringing this issue up during discussions and asking for solutions, they agreed on equal participation. During one of the coach back sessions, the participants had set a rule where only the women could score a goal. This demonstrated good progression of the group.

    One of the participants who motivated me was a lady called Mirna, who was born with a disability because of the relative marriage of her parents. She is a Ph.D. student who is studying NLP. She is Palestinian and living as part of a minority group in Lebanon. Observing different kinds of discrimination, she spent most of her childhood in hospitals and at home. She overcame her isolation with the help of her psychologist by setting life goals. She is a life skills instructor, a psychologist, and a role model for many of her students.

    Obtaining experience in coaching different groups of cultures and religions allowed me to better understand their mentality, and it facilitated the sharing of ideas and knowledge. It was inspiring to see and meet different people who thrive to provide equal opportunity for their students and provide a safe space for them to express their opinions.

  • Education Outside the Classroom in the “No-Law Zone”

    April 12th, 2018. Self-Directed Learning Educator, Jordan Stephenson, writes about his second visit to Lebanon working with Corporate Partner ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid). 

    Arriving in Lebanon for my second time representing Coaches Across Continents was a great thrill. Having experienced the hustle and bustle of Beirut previously and worked with some incredible people with our partner Anera (America Near East Refugee Aid), it was now time to work with the local NGO’s which Anera support.

    We are delivering Life Skills training to teachers working in refugee communities. The programme works with youth aged 14-24 years old who have not been in education for more than 2 years. Our Education Outside the Classroom methodology is allowing more young people to access vital skills relating to employment [even though it’s virtually impossible to get a job anyway if you’re Palestinian or Syrian] and becoming a better citizen.

    Most of the teachers are living and working in the Ein el Helwe refugee camp. It is the largest refugee camp in Lebanon with over 120,000 people. It has high media presence because of gun violence and death rate due to the lack of Lebanese authority. It is known as the “no-law zone” because Lebanese police have no jurisdiction in the camp and therefore the community runs themselves.

    The training brought to life our curriculum as well as giving me a greater understanding to the challenges which people face here, both whilst using Education Outside the Classroom and in their lives. We have two more weeks of training in different locations across the country and I am excited to continue to spread the community legacies which Coaches Across Continents are involved in!

  • Blog 1 – Culture Shock

    April 11, 2018. Global Citizen, Abigale Gibbons, writes about her first time on-field with Coaches Across Continents while working with Fútbol Más Chile

    Before my departure to Chile and Peru as a Global Citizen, I had no idea what to expect. I have a passion for sport and using it for social impact—which is the reason I was initially captivated by Coaches Across Continents, conversational Spanish (more or less) and was waiting to see where the following weeks would take me.

    The first training was an eye opening and learning experience for me. The opportunity to finally work on an all female team, especially in the space of athletics, was (and is) an incredibly empowering feeling. I took the initial days to learn and absorb the process and planning it takes to host a training. (If you think hosting a training is easy, think again.) It takes a lot of research, intuition and understanding to properly run each session and it was certainly more intense than I imagined it to be. After hours of preparation, I was excited to see how all of the work off-field would play out on field.

    The first city we landed in was Iquique—a beautiful town with a beach that resembles Rio de Janeiro or the California coast on one side and blissful mountain deserts on the other. In Iquique and all throughout Chile, we would be working alongside CAC partner Fútbol Màs, a global organization that uses sport in communities to recover public places and create safe spaces for children to train and grow.

    For me personally, this first training was amazing, challenging and overwhelming all at the same time. After being so adjusted to my life in the States, the reality that I was now an outsider—who couldn’t properly communicate or understand the local language—quickly led me to begin to think differently, become more aware of those around me, have greater empathy and change my previous perspectives of what life is like for a foreigner living in a new culture, city, country and community.

    One of my greatest takeaways from this first training was how grateful I was to be welcomed, as a stranger, into the lives and communities of the participants and Fútbol Màs. I began to develop a clearer understanding that we are all humans who want to help each other, learn from each other and better our communities by encouraging new ideas and evolution from tradition.

     

     

  • Global Leaders in Child Protection

    April 3, 2018. Children’s Rights are of paramount importance to Coaches Across Continents.   One of the pillars of our organization is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. But it is one thing to say that the protection of children is important, and another entirely to actively create policies and implement practices which change communities and cultures in the 50+ countries where we operate. But this is exactly what we are doing. Over 10,400 coaches have signed Child Protection policies because of their participation in CAC On-Field programming.  Our partnership work around the world includes addressing and changing some of the most difficult issues pertaining to child rights and protection, including trafficked children, child soldiers, FGM, restrictive and harmful cultural and religious practice, legal corporal punishment in schools, street children, and more.

    Today we are proud to announce the publication of a new document to further progress Child Protection policies and thinking, entitled “Peace and Child Rights.”  This document continues to frame our Child Protection policy creation and community development on two main fronts:

    1. The understanding that Child Protection is not just as an elimination of abuse, but also the creation of what children should experience in a healthy and happy childhood, namely physically and emotionally safe spaces where they are encouraged in their successes and allowed to constructively learn from their failures as they engage in our SDL environment.
    2. That the relationship between a teacher/coach needs to exist and be a healthy one that allows for a mentorship of children from adolescence into adulthood.

    Coaches Across Continents is already implementing these parameters with all our partner programs globally. Before working with CAC, only 18% of local coaches had received child protection training.  Now over 10,400 coaches at 100% of our programs have gone through Child Protection Training.

    This new publication initiative goes hand in hand with our ongoing work with UNICEF, where we are on three working groups including:

    1. Advocacy and communications on policy and practice;
    2. Quality assurance and access to training and support; and
    3. Research, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning and improvement of resources.

    These active workgroups continue to drive global policy in Child Rights and Protection policies, and came about from our work together as a Pioneering Member of UNICEF’s International Safeguards for Children in Sport.

    CAC also uses our curriculum to educate children and coaches about the rights guaranteed by the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.  Since it’s inception in 2015, our Child Rights curriculum has been used at 88% of our On-Field Programs.

    Coaches Across Continents will continue to be the global leader in Child Protection.  We are already working on ways to continue to eliminate all violence against children (sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse) and to create partnerships and communities which focus on Child Rights advocacy, creating safe spaces, and building healthy mentoring relationships.

    #WhatsYourLegacy?

  • ¡Viva Mexico!

    March 28th, 2018. Self-Directed Learning Educator, Pedro Perez, writes about his experience working with Fundación Paso Del Norte in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

    Imagine you’re playing a game where the purpose is create a strong competition between groups and see how they react. Suddenly and spontaneously the participants decide that instead competing they will start to work all together to accomplish the goal. Well, this is exactly what happened during our week in Juarez.

    This shocked me. It was surprising that this kind of situation calls our attention and not the other way around, right? I tried to find an explanation for this phenomenon. The word resilience came to my mind.

    Over the years Ciudad Juarez has been a host city of drug trafficking, violence and insecurity. Faced with this situation, people from Juarez – as it happened during the game – have created a system where they are taking care of each other, and where cooperation is more important than competition. They could choose to believe that what once surrounded them was the model they had to follow, but no, they have chosen to create a reality where the collective good is above the individual.

    For me that shows resilience. The people of Juarez after years suffering from an environment full of violence came out strengthened from that period, with the creation of a collective consciousness above the average. Admirable without a doubt!

    After that week working with Fundación Paso del Norte, and the teachers that are part of their program “Juarez en Acción”, I had this idea in my mind….“Do you know the feeling of arriving at a place, that turns out to be completely different from what you expected? Well, that’s Ciudad Juarez.”

  • Post-Disaster Sustainable Legacies: the AFC & CAC

    March 25, 2018. Kathmandu and Sindhupalchok, Nepal. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA), and Coaches Across Continents joined forces this past weekend for three important events. There was a school dedication ceremony in Sindhupalchok, Nepal signifying the completion and handover of the AFC school rebuilding project, as well as a coaching education workshop on sport for social impact, followed by a clinic for Nepali street children.

    As the Official Social Responsibility Partner of the AFC, Coaches Across Continents (CAC) is working with ANFA grassroots coaches in Nepal, creating Education Outside the Classroom. Through football, we create learning opportunities to enable the social development of players on key topics like Health & Wellness, the importance of Education, Child Rights, communication and confidence, and teamwork.

    Thirty-four coaches worked with Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz on Friday learning our award-winning methodology and curriculum. We then held our first joint clinic with social development as the primary focus, working with over 50 street children from the organization Shelter.  Incidentally, a team from Shelter will be representing Nepal in Russia this summer at the Street Child World Cup.

    Saturday at the Shree Setidevi School, near Chautara, Sindhupalchok, Nepal was the official school dedication and handover ceremony. The original school building was completely decimated by the 2015 earthquake. The new school is now one of the nicest in the entire country. Standing two stories tall, it houses 18 classrooms, a central courtyard, washrooms, offices, and a water filtration system that will serve the entire community as well as the 600+ students who will attend the school.

    Key dignitaries in attendance throughout the weekend included AFC Executive Committee member and Chairman of Social Responsibility Ahmed Eid (Saudi Arabia), ANFA President Narendra Shrestha (Nepal), AFC Head of Social Responsibility Dr. Annathurai Ranganathan (Malaysia), CAC Chief Executive Strategist Brian Suskiewicz (USA / Nicaragua), as well as other local dignitaries.

    As a proud partner of the AFC, Coaches Across Continents will continue to support the Asian Football Confederation in Creating Legacies throughout their 47 Member Associations. Other continuing post-disaster Legacy Programs include our partnership in Tacloban, the Philippines, as the community continues to develop following Typhoon Yolanda.