Street Soccer for Social Impact
March 5, 2014. From the beach to the city, CAC programs in Mexico moved to the capital for an intensive, three-day training with a great new partner. Street Soccer Mexico is based in Mexico City but has leagues running throughout the country. Coaches traveled great distances to be part of our program, but unfortunately, lack of funds prevented even more from making the trip. This organization’s initiative centers on getting youth off the street, away from negative influences, and onto teams where they are taught life skills and hopefully given hope for their future.
For these three days we ran a three-hour session each morning and afternoon and had between thirty and forty coaches throughout the program. This group was made up of a truly diverse scope of participants ranging from international freestyle football champions to the president of Street Soccer Mexico himself. Our team was thoroughly impressed with this group, and particular note must be given to Alejandro, a single-leg amputee and excellent footballer who attended our training with his coach. This posed a welcome challenge for our team as we worked to develop a curriculum that could be enjoyed by the group as a whole, and by the final day it was clear how pleased all parties were with the result. We were also joined by One World Futbol (OWF) Chief Operating Officer, Arnold Ambiel, alongside his son, Nick, on break from high school. Valuable partners for both CAC and Street Soccer Mexico, it was wonderful to have OWF representatives on the field with us, playing with their own indestructible footballs and watching them come to life during CAC games.
One of the priorities for the week, stressed by the participants, was to teach games that addressed the issue of discrimination, and the many forms it can take in our community. One of the games we chose to play in order to tackle this issue on the football field was Falcao for Gender Equity. In this game one team is attacking one goal and defending three goals, while the other team is defending one goal and attacking three goals… That is so not fair! Yes, yes, we know. The idea is to provoke that sense of unfairness to demonstrate the absence of equal opportunities in our society. So, what’s not fair? Can you give me an example of a time when you or someone you know did not have the same opportunity as others? Why? Because of how they look, the color of their skin, their ability to play football, how fast they can solve a math problem, whether they have all their body parts, how much they weigh, what organ they have between their legs? With this game we use a really fun – and I mean really fun, our coaches always have to jump in and play – football game to emphasize the reality of discrimination in the world. We always pose the questions to the group, however, in order to learn from them about their community, the different types of discrimination they face in their schools, on their teams.
Our three coaches for this program, Sophie, Nora, and Tomas, the Latin American team, were extremely impressed with this group session after session, day after day. They showed up with smiles, enthusiasm, an eagerness to learn, and above all, a passion for their work and a commitment to the social impact side of coaching football. The future of this partnership with Street Soccer Mexico is booming with potential, and we cannot wait to hear about what they do throughout the year.