• Welcome To Sorong

    May 4th 2016. Volunteer Jon Eisen writes about his time with CAC and Uni Papua in Sorong, Indonesia.

    After a week of coaching coaches in Jakarta, Charlie Crawford, the leader from Coaches Across Continents who had previously been working for two and half months in Africa, and I boarded a red-eye to Eastern Indonesia. Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands and is the 4th most populous country in the world. Jakarta, where we spent our first week, is essentially the New York City of Indonesia. We spent our second week, the focus of this post, in Sorong, a pleasant tropical town with beaches, palm trees and a more laid back way of life. We were greeted early Saturday morning by Frans and Rudolf, two of the local coaches . We spent the weekend relaxing and doing touristy things, like visiting the Buddhist temple, eating seafood and beaching it with Frans and Rudolf, as well as Nonce, the behind the scenes organizer. Come Monday, we were ready to get back to work.

    Quick refresher — Coaches Across Continents (CAC) is in the sport for social impact game. What that means is CAC uses football (soccer) as a jumping off point for conversations about social issues like gender equality, child rights, safe sex, and problem solving. CAC partners with local organizations, in this case Uni Papua, to put on week-long coaching clinics on how to play games that bring out these messages. After the program, CAC remains engaged with the local organization for at least 3 years, returning for training sessions annually. Charlie continuously repeated that we are not here to tell anyone what is right and wrong, only to discuss the reality and open up a discussion. Two of the most common phrases he says during games is “now, solve your problem” and “use your voice!” CAC knows that no matter what happens in a week-long program or even in the longer partnership, what the coaches coach is ultimately their decision. Our goal is simply to encourage critical thinking and speaking up.

    All that being said, this trip was CAC’s first time in Sorong. We spent three mornings at schools playing games with students and the afternoon sessions, with the exception of one, were predominantly dominated by kids. No matter what language is spoken or what life is like, one thing is for sure, kids love playing games. Even though it’s not the explicit mission of CAC, it was a ton of fun seeing the kids having fun playing games like Scary Soccer, a real life version of rock-paper-scissors and 95% football, essentially soccer without a ball.

    There was one moment that struck me as particularly powerful. It was during a game called Indonesia For Attitudes. For this game, we create four coned spaces on the field that represent characteristics of males. When we call out one of the characteristics, the players race to get to that particular space. After playing several rounds, we bring it back in and rename the spaces to represent characteristics of females. The social impact moment is when, at the completion of the game, you ask why did you pick the characteristics you did for each gender? Can a man be diligent? Can a woman be strong? What are the sources of our beliefs?

    During this particular game that involved only males, Charlie asked where these preconceptions come from. Blank stares. I’m not sure if it was a translation thing, a social thing or perhaps a combination of both. But it struck me that many of these kids may never have considered why they believe what they believe. Self reflection and thinking about one’s society is not always easy and fun. I think it is something that everyone all over the world, myself included, should engage in more often. This game, Indonesia For Attitudes, was a fun way to encourage this reflection.

    Interesting Side Notes About Indonesia

    • From the moment we left the hotel each day, people would shout out “Hey Mister!” and take our pictures. Charlie Crawford, the CAC leader for the trip, was used to the celebrity status of being a white person in a place with no white people. He said it would get old. It certainly was a unique experience but I will admit that by the end of the week, I, like Charlie, was looking forward to the anonymity of being in America.
    • Our final day was cancelled as the Commander of the Armed Forces, the third highest politician in Indonesia, was making a surprise visit to “Armyville,” the location of our field.
    • While not a lot of people speak English, the people are incredibly warm, open and kind. Everyone hangs out together outside of their homes. There seemed to be a very rich community dynamic. Indonesia is a great place!
    • Martabak Manis will change your life.

    Thank You’s

    So many thank you’s are due for helping me to be a part of this partnership. First, thank you to all my friends and family that helped me raise funds for Coaches Across Continents and make my trip a reality. Next, thank you to the CAC folks, particularly Charlie Crawford, the man with the plan, a human dumpster for all the food in Indonesia (literally all of it) and the leader of the programs; Nora Dooley for encouraging me to do it even though I know less about soccer than the kids we were working with; and Adam Burgess, who helped with my trip logistics and kept me on track. Thank you to our gracious hosts in both Jakarta and Sorong who made the partnership possible — Maria, Mr. Harry, Andi, Yan, the Salatiga coaches, Frans, Rudolf and Nonce. Finally, thank you to all the coaches and kids that participated. You guys are the heartbeat of the partnership.

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  • Excitement, Passion and Learning in Punjab

    CAC Community Impact Coach (CIC) Guru Singh discusses his work with CAC and YFC Rurka Kalan in Punjab, India.

    December 2nd 2015. It was my second year working with CAC as a CIC which makes me very happy. I still remember the 14th of November, 2013 when I participated in a CAC workshop for the first time. The workshop gave me a new way to use football for social impact. This experience changed many things for me. I had been coaching for one and a half years, but I had never used football to address social issues.

    In November this year I joined CAC for the 2nd time as a CIC and I went back to Rurka Kalan, which is a village in the state of Punjab. I assisted Markus Bensch who is one CAC’s Self-Directed Learning (SDL) Coaches. Markus is a great mentor, coach, motivator and a friend. I learned many new games during the one week coaching course with coaches from YFC which stands for Youth Football Clubs as well as Youth For Change. YFC have run a football academy in Rurka Kalan for the past 13 years. From the very beginning they have focused on the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse among the youth and have encouraged them to invest in their education by being involved in sport.

    I am fond of all the CAC games but two of my favorites are ‘Head-Catch’ and ‘95% Football’. 95% Football is a football game but without a ball which is the best part of the game. The rules are almost the same as normal football. You can pass, dribble and score but the only difference is the player who has the ball has to have his or her hand on their head. You can pass the ball by shouting the name of your teammate and you can score by simply crossing the goal line with the hand on your head. The other team can steal the ball by tagging the player that has the ball. This game causes a lot of conflict and cheating. The players need to discuss the rules of the game and also stick to them in order to make the game flow. The participants from YFC had a great time when we played this game and it was impressive to see how teams improved their strategies in order to score more often and win the game.

    YFC is a professional football academy with different disciplines and various other development programs for the town youth to help them change their lives. It was CAC’s second time to teach and learn together with the coaches from YFC and I was happy to be a part of it. It was amazing to see the coaches participate with the same interest and passion as last year. They were eager to learn and gain knowledge from the program. I was particularly impressed by the women who participated in the program. How they raised their voice, spoke up in front of the group and got very competitive during the games.

    I observed that CAC has an impact on everyone who participates in their program. CAC has given me a better understanding of other communities, because I was able to learn about their lifestyle and their culture. It was interesting for me to realize that many social issues are the same in different parts of India. Women and children are the most vulnerable and therefore child abuse and gender inequality are two big issues that CAC always addresses.

    My journey as a CIC with CAC has been wonderful so far, full of excitement, passion and great learning. It’s always football but never the same. I am always excited about the new skills, games and social messages I learn. I feel very privileged to be part of such a great organization and I promise to not keep my knowledge and skills for myself, but share it with coaches from my home community and wherever people are eager to change the society for better.

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  • No Ordinary Days in Cape Verde

    CAC returning volunteer Frederick Schwarzmaier talks about year 3 of our partnership with Delta Cultura in Cape Verde. 

    October 21st 2015. Imagine yourself after a day of work floating on the pleasantly tempered sea. Above you, the sun is setting in a picture-perfect orange sky and from the corner of your eye you see green rolling hills and a quiet beach with several palm trees. It’s a privilege reserved for very few people. However, in Tarrafal, Markus and I were fortunate enough to call it an ordinary day.

    Unlike other programs, in Tarrafal we found an artificial turf with floodlights on top of a hill surrounded by mountains and the sea. This is one of 20 artificial pitches built across Africa by the FIFA Football for Hope Initiative associated with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In this case Delta Cultura was the beneficiary. Delta Cultura, our local partner which we visited for the third time in our Hat-Trick initiative, is a local organization which runs an education center for primary and secondary school pupils in Tarrafal. Its founder, Florian, and one of its tutors, Gilson, helped us around the clock to quickly immerse ourselves into the new surroundings. With the many pupils at the site, we had enough participants to conduct any game.

    Great signs that promised a successful two weeks with the local coaches. But would the local coaches follow through on this promise?

    In our first session in the classroom we chatted about the participants` diverse achievements over the past year and the program’s outlook. It was great to hear that participants implemented certain games from last year in their communities or schools. Some participants even invented new games for International Women’s Day and Children’s Day. Beyond that, one participating teacher had organized a one-week activity at his football school where he addressed school drop-out and teenage pregnancy through Football for Social Impact. These stories were like music to our ears and strongly motivated us to practice on-field with the coaches. As with many of our programs, the issue of tardiness would accompany us during the week. Apart from the tardiness issue, we had found a perfect setting for the program.

    Nonetheless, the area that needed improving the most was having purposeful and efficient discussions. This became apparent during a game of “95% Football” – a game that combines elements of tag with those of football. It was just after I passed the goal line seemingly scoring when the other team started protesting – “A second ball was in play.” A tight group of ranting and flailing players from both teams had formed, The participants embarked on wild discussions without any valuable outcome. We stepped in to provide structure within the discussion. In order to find a solution, the teams decided to designate a captain who would try to find a solution together. A word and a blow – GOAL! The members of the team that had now conceded the goal were noticeably unhappy with the result, again loudly arguing and flailing. Reminding them that we had agreed that only the captains have the final call the turmoil quickly settled. Once more, they nominated a (new) captain to discuss the case with the opposing captain in order to agree on a solution in their favor. Despite the change, the captain of the team I was in must have had some good points because even the newly nominated captain consented – GOAL! Finally, everyone acknowledged the decision and we continued to play with the next dispute just around the corner. Eventually the participants had found a way to solve their problem peacefully.

    Next week we will increasingly focus on game development with the coaches. With a little bit of guidance, we are confident that many new and fun games will be created. For now, all signs point to a successful second week here in Tarrafal.

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