Conflict Prevention

Learning to find your own answers

CAC’s most fundamental goal is to teach people to solve their own problems. To teach this skill we have used our Conflict Prevention games in some of the most conflict-ridden communities in the world, places such as Sierra Leone, where many of our participants are amputees as a result of civil war. We also include a focus on social inclusion as we work to combat discrimination and solve problems in a peaceful, inclusive manner. It is in these games that we truly elevate our participants from being soccer coaches to being coaches of soccer for social impact.

Game: Wilshere for Conflict Prevention

Our goal in this type of game is actually to provoke conflict. Then we say ,“solve your problem!”

In this game five cones are set up in the shape of a pentagon. Behind each cone is a line of anywhere from 1 to 4 players. The only rule in this game is that players must pass the ball to one line and run to a different line (in other words, they cannot follow their pass). What usually happens next is a moment of calm, and then many mistakes. Passes are sloppy, players take multiple touches before making their mind up, they forget the only rule, and once they stop doing that, they pass to the line with only one person in it, meaning it then becomes empty. This is what we want.

Our goal in this type of game is actually to provoke conflict. Then we say ,“solve your problem!” The players will often look first to the coach for answers because so many societies have ingrained that sense of dependency on authority figures such as teachers and coaches – but not here. So then what? Magic happens. The players strategize, they start communicating – verbally and non-verbally – they get into a rhythm, the quality of passing improves, fewer touches are needed, and they are working as a team. We can make the game more difficult or we can give them an objective such as playing for one minute without a mistake. If one player makes a mistake, they all pay the price.

Creating Self-Directed Learners

These types of games are invaluable in enabling players to think for themselves and find solutions to their own problems, individually and as a team. It is crucial that coaches adopt this technique if we want the next generation to be one of free thinking self-directed learners who can apply critical thinking skills to all aspects of their lives. The local coaches and young players will be able to create solutions to whatever problems exist in their communities, their country, and the world. They will not look to outsiders or to the West for solutions; instead, they will look to themselves.

Our extensive Monitoring & Evaluation tells us that before our program, only 19% of participants knew how to use soccer to teach young people how best to resolve conflict. Afterward, 99% have the skill set to do just that.