• Hello Table Mountain! CAC in Cape Town

    abfa3November 12, 2013. Coaches Across Continents Staff can boast the best offices in the world. Fact.

    Would it be easier for you to get out of bed in the morning if you knew your office had an open-air view of Table Mountain? No? How about if you were able to work with some of the most diverse groups of people imaginable – and by work I mean play fun games – to have an impact on their lives far beyond the boundaries of the football pitch?

    From the 21st to the 25th of October CAC coaches, Nick Gates and Nora Dooley, worked with African Brothers Football Academy in Cape Town, South Africa. We ran a training that brought together people from a very wide range of backgrounds, especially when it came to football. African Brothers invited other groups in the region to join the program, one such group being Bread of Life from the community of Langa. This group was represented by a mix of local leaders and volunteers from the UK, all of whom, except one, were female. Few of them had every played football before, and none had heard of the notion of using sport for social development. By the end of this week, the proof of the impact of the work we do could be seen and heard in the manner that these young women coached CAC games to the rest of the group, and more importantly, in the way they used their voices.

    abfa4One particular game that saw great success with the entire group was Mia Hamm Communication from our GOAL curriculum. In this game there is a large circle of people and four or five footballs spread amongst them. There are four or five others in the middle of the circle who must call for the ball from someone on the outside, receive it with their hands or feet (two variations), and find somebody new on the outside to pass the ball to. It is a classic football game that is great to help players develop their skills, but we are more concerned with the social messages being taught, and in this game there are many. The difference between Mia Hamm Communication and the way this game is played on pitches all over the world is that in order to call for the ball you must use words other than the usual “Ball!” “Yes!” or “Pass!” First the players call for the ball by saying, “My name is ____!” Then new players come into the middle of the circle and call for the ball this time with, “I am a woman/man!” or with kids “boy/girl”. The third round the players say “I have a voice!”, and then “Listen to me!”. After they are told what to say by the coaches, they have to come up with something they love about themselves in order to get the ball such as, “I am intelligent!” or “I love my eyes!” The next time the participants say something they like about the person passing them the ball, for example “I love your smile!” or “You have great skills!” In the final round we challenge participants to string all of those “calls” together. This is the difference between coaching football, and coaching football for social impact. With a game that is oft played by football teams to work on passing, receiving, and turning, we have added an element that teaches people how to communicate, to raise their voice, to be confident, to share their identity, and to pay compliments to each other.

    abfa5After we played Mia Hamm Communication with the group at African Brothers, it was clear that they had bought into the idea of sport for social impact, and as the week progressed you could sense changes in confidence levels, especially with the Langa girls. The transformation of these young women is the evidence that what CAC does, works.

    On the other end of the spectrum, this training welcomed three Community Impact Coaches (CICs) from Gansbaai, South Africa, a program we finished last year. These three coaches joined the Cape Town program to continue to practice their coaching skills, as well as to continue learning from CAC to develop their curricula. In particular, they wanted to learn and expand on games that teach about nutrition and protecting our environment. Now you’re starting to understand the vast differences with regard to coaching and football experience among the group. From the Langa women to the Gansbaai CICs, and then the African Brothers team who coach football for a living and who already had a year of CAC under their belts, this week proved a lofty task for our CAC staff, but it came together with incredible success. And that is part of the magic of CAC. Our games bridge the gaps between sex, race, culture, ability, knowledge, age, and even time spent working with CAC. We bring groups together that under normal circumstances would never cross paths, and we find a way to make it effective and have an impact on all involved.

    This week in Cape Town was great, plain and simple. And if you disregard all the amazing things that happened on the pitch, at least we had Table Mountain watching over us each and every day.

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  • A Great Week with African Brothers in Cape Town, South Africa

    African Brothers Logo

    October 10, 2012: Walking into African Brothers one is greeted by the various famous footballers images painted on the concrete walls. The images are not just the normal faces we all are accustomed to seeing on tv, but rather representing countries from all around the world: Paraguay, Russia, Australia and even North Korea. It is apparent why African Brothers highlights faces from all over the globe, as the group itself is a mix of coaches from Mozambique, Congo, South Africa, Nigeria and others. It is an important part of their definition as a club as it is also part of the academy’s vision of expanding into other countries outside of South Africa. Already clubs are using their logo in other parts of South Africa. Craig would also like to eventually offer resources to these clubs, particularly in regards to their fields. African Brothers has faced many challenges to be what it is today and is still dealing with oppositions

    Craig started African Brothers 18 years ago with a partner who was also interested in providing football to more youth in South Africa. Craig personally knew the power of football and its ability to transform lives. He has been involved in all levels of football from playing professionally to coaching to helping a team in the Homeless World Cup. At the African Brothers headquarters in Cape Town Craig has transformed a large plot of land that was once used by prostitutes and drug users into a beautiful community space with 3 five a side courts, tennis courts and a large outdoor grass field. It is truly an amazing place particularly with Table Mountain as the backdraft and on days with sunshine and few clouds in the sky. The courts were always being used, either by youth eager to play and practice their new skills, school classes who didn’t have their own facilities to run around on and young and old professionals playing a game after work. It is amazing to watch Craig maneuver in the place he has created for the community, doing one task after another to ensure that the fields are ready, the children are practicing good behaviors on and off the field and that the coaches are fulfilling all their responsibilities.

    Craig and his team of African Brothers have big goals for this safe space as well as for the other fields they are helping to build in

    The African Brothers community- coaches and youth

    their communities. The coaches are eager to learn more and more so they can too provide fun and interactive training sessions to the variety of youth. As Friday rolled around, the coaches were very appreciative of the hours spent on the field with the Coaches Across Continents teams and were eager to begin putting the games in place. After the coaches had the opportunities to deliver the games learned during the week and successfully testing them out, the program concluded with a wonderful South African braai that included all the staff and youth who participated in a great week of training.