• Pathways to Female Empowerment

    September 13th 2017. CAC Community Impact Coach Lorik Hartun wrote about her experience with CAC and our partners GOALS Armenia in Dilijan. We want to sincerely thank the Games 4 Good Foundation for their support of this partnership in 2017. 

    Exactly the same day last year I was just an inspired participant of the CAC’s ‘ASK for Choice’ program in Yerevan, Armenia. While I was getting to know the CAC team and playing games, I was thinking that I have always tried to raise awareness about social issues. But, I had never thought about combining sports and social awareness. That was the time when a spark occurred in my mind and I approached Nora (the head coach), saying I will definitely continue implementing your games.

    I got to know about GOALS (Girls of Armenia Leadership Soccer) during the same program and I offered my help and cooperate with them. After a while their team approached me and offered me to work with them as the director of programming and training. I accepted their offer and along with several educators and trainers from all over Armenia, we passionately continued to implement CAC games, which incorporate themes that need to be discussed, such as: gender equality, women’s rights, discrimination, stereotypes etc. After a few months of being involved in programming and monitoring the NGO’s programs, I was given the chance of being GOALS’ Executive Director. Now being GOALS’ CEO, as well as a partner of CAC, we have been able to organize several successful events with the idea of raising awareness of social issues our communities face. For example, this year we organized a CAC training in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, as well as at one of the greenest cities of Armenia; Dilijan.

    Markus and Jamie from Coaches Across Continents were leading the programs in Armenia and I was excited to join them as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) in Dilijan.

    On the first day of our training, as Markus, Jamie and I were walking along the beautiful green field of UWC, where our training would be held; I was looking at the faces of the participants and I could already predict their questions of what exactly we are going to do and how sport and social issues could be involved. Training started. On the first day some of them, especially the adults, didn’t feel comfortable doing more active games such as dancing mingle mingle and doing crazy things in the circle of friends. But on the last day almost everyone was doing fun activities. The point being that: as we grow up we think we shouldn’t be free and have fun like children, but fun and freedom shouldn’t have any age limitations.

    The most challenging part for us during the training was bringing up discussions about women’s rights and equality in Armenia. Most of them were denying the existence of gender inequalities. People were also applying their generic ideas of their community to the rest of the country. We gave them some hints and a place for them to think and study more about those topics.

    I am very happy that 8 participants from the program joined the GOALS ‘after school’ program where they chose one of my designed modules, which focused on: discrimination and equality, leadership and problem solving, and lastly environment and healthy lifestyle. The coaches will implement the games once per week adapting them for their individual needs as they represent different disciplines such as, basketball, track and field, wrestling, boxing etc. I feel confident that through the program the coaches are now well-equipped to apply the games and activities with their students and players. And I am already looking forward to next year’s program where we want to welcome many returners so they can continue on their journey of becoming Self-Directed Learners.

    It is very fun working with “nature-boy” Markus as he gets called by Jamie, the Scotsman on our team. I am already looking forward to working with them in Tbilisi, Georgia.

  • Games 4 Good and GOALS Armenia

    August 29th, 2017. Jamie Tomkinson writes about his experience working On-Field during a Coaches Across Continents ASK for Choice program with partners G.O.A.L.S. Armenia. Jamie was a 2016 Michael Johnson Young Leader, with experience working with CAC. We would like to extend a very sincere thank you to the Games 4 Good Foundation who sponsored this program. 

    The closest I thought I’d ever get to Armenia was watching Mkhitaryan playing for Man United on the television. However these last two weeks I have been fortunate enough to be a part of the Coaches Across Continents program working with GOALS Armenia.

    During our week in Yerevan we were training up community leaders, coaches and teachers about using Sport for Social Impact in efforts to help improve the lives of others in their community. This was an ASK for Choice program which specifically focuses on using games from the ASK curriculum around Women’s Rights, choices and Female Empowerment.

    One of the highlights of the week has been working with Markus, a guy who speaks English as his 3rd language, and everyone being able to understand him better than my Scottish accent! It’s a tough week ahead when even the translator can’t understand you.

    With the help of Lorik from GOALS, we were able to work with the group to a point where they understood the games, could deliver them to local children and take part in meaningful, engaging discussion around Armenia and the challenges that women face. These challenges include being under represented in parliament to the morality of a woman driving a taxi! Why is this such an issue in Armenia? Through conversations following the Coaches Across Continents ASK for Choice games, one of the participants felt inspired to create a booklet teaching women in Armenia (and encouraging them, should they wish to) how to become taxi drivers. This to me is a meaningful impact and sustainable impact from the week. Because of the Coaches Across Continents ASK for Choice program, these women are taking action towards change.

    Looking forward to working with GOALS in the mountainous village of Dilijan next week.

    Learn more about on-going work and the history of Games 4 Good Foundation partnership with CAC in 2015 in Cameroon and 2016 in South Africa.

  • Armenia Joins The CAC Family

    September 9th 2016. Andrea Montalbano writes about the start of our partnership with Girls of Armenia Leadership Soccer (GOALS). Andrea is a member of the CAC Business Advisory Team and the ASK For Choice Advisory Team.  She is also the author of the Soccer Sisters book series.

    The feel of fall is in the in New York air, but all we can talk about at our dinner table is our family’s recent trip to Armenia with Coaches Across Continents. We worked with CAC staff and Board Members Judith and Bill Gates in several different locations throughout the former Soviet Republic.

    In the capital Yerevan, we trained with fantastic coaches and learned how powerful and fun sport for social change and education can be.  We were based at the Football Federation of Armenia, the country’s governing body, and thrilled to work with their girl players and see the future leaders come alive on the field covering topics such as health and wellness, life skills, gender equality, problem-solving, and team building. Boys and girls were playing together, which was amazing because we learned that it doesn’t happen very often.

    In the small village of Tumanyan, we worked with a variety of educators and community leaders in partnership with the Children of Armenia Fund (COAF).  One of the most moving moments for me was to see men and women of all ages, debating and collaborating on policy toward the equitable role of women in society. The conversations were held in COAF “Smart Rooms” and using CAC technology – evidence to my eyes that conversations started on the field have impact off the field.

    Our family’s last stop (CAC would continue on to Gyumri) was at the beautiful UWC School in Dilijan, where the student body is from over 70 different nations! Talk about a worldview. It was truly inspiring to see so many young leaders from all over the world working together and getting excited to bring CAC into their community.

    One of the most impactful things I learned on the trip was to listen to the ideas of others, particularly the ideas of children.  So I thought it only appropriate to do a brief Q&A with the rest of my family and start with the kids.

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    William Jebejian, 9

    Q: Did you have a favorite game, William?

    A: My favorite game was when you had to make the animal sounds (an adaptation of Mingle Mingle) and you had to switch. I liked how you kind of made a fool out of yourself, but it was really hard, because you were like, I think that was a lion, no it’s a cat! It’s really confusing. Meow! And it was so loud. And you don’t understand anything.  You were just running around. It was so fun.

    Q: What was the biggest lesson you learned through Coaches Across Continents?

    A: That you should not rely on people to solve your problems and you should try and solve your own problems without asking someone to do them for you.

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    Lily Jebejian, 12

    Q: Did you meet anyone who inspired you?

    A: Sofik was an awesome leader and role model for all girls and even though I didn’t speak Armenian, I could understand by the way she coached.  One night, we got to go to her house and it was cool to see where she was from and the rest of her family.  They were welcoming and very sweet.

    Q: You play a lot of sports here in New York.  Were you surprised to see the differences in opportunities there?

    A: Seeing all the girls show up to the field in dresses and sandals and fancy shoes, I thought, they have never played soccer before and it seemed kind of bizarre to me because basically everyone I know has played soccer before and would never have shown up to a soccer practice like that.  It made me appreciate my town and the opportunities that I have more because I got to see how girls are not encouraged to play.

    Diron Jebejian, who is of Armenian descent.

    A: What surprised you the most about the curriculum?

    Q: That it actually has very little to do with soccer.  It was better than my expectations, because I learned a lot. They have a very unique way of getting people to come together to find a common way to communicate to ultimately work out some of their problems, collaborate, and have much better opportunity to solve problems, so it was much different than I thought.

    Q: Do you think that sport for social change can help Armenia?

    A: I do. I didn’t really understand what it meant until I spent time with CAC. But, I think the common interest of sport is a very good way to bring people together.

    Q: We introduced the ASK For Choice curriculum to Armenia. What do you think the biggest challenge is facing the women of the country?

    A: The biggest challenge for the country is economic opportunity.  Without more opportunity the country will continue to have people leave to find better jobs and better ways to support themselves.  So that’s clearly the challenge, and so the investment in education and investment in girls is one of the principle ways to change that equation so I think it’s all tied together.

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  • Olympic Legend Michael Johnson Unveils New Initiative

    May 3rd 2016. Olympic legend Michael Johnson recently announced the launch of his Foundation. The Foundation’s initiative, spearheaded by the four-time Olympic gold medal winner, aims to provide young people from around the world with the tools they need to fulfil their potential through sport. By developing an in-depth, sustainable programme focusing on sporting performance, leadership development and community engagement, the Michael Johnson Foundation will give specially selected young people – all of whom come from a diverse range of challenging backgrounds – the confidence, skills and resources to make a positive impact on their futures.

    The young leaders once-in-a-lifetime journey will begin with an intensive course at the Michael Johnson Performance Center, Michael’s one-of-a-kind training ground in Dallas, where they will be provided cutting-edge support to enhance their sport performance skills, receive in-depth leadership training and get time and support to develop their ideas about how they can contribute to their communities and make a genuine difference for fellow young people back home. The young leaders will be travelling to Dallas this month from all over the world – Mexico, Nepal, UK, Cambodia, Armenia, Kenya, Uganda, India, Brazil and Tanzania – and were carefully selected not only for their potential to develop sporting talent but their capability to lead and a desire to contribute to their community.

    Regarding the desired outcomes for the young people on the programme, Michael said: “It’s not about finding the next Gold Medallist – although if someone has the potential then Michael Johnson Performance will identify and nurture that talent. It is our hope that successful young people from the course will become community leaders, or be the first of their family to go to college, or start their own sports charity or clubs. Success here means that every single young person who has gone through the course will have the skills and opportunity to achieve a better future.”

    Participant Freya Levy from the UK, who overcame muscular dystrophy to represent GB at wheelchair basketball, said; “I feel incredibly honoured to be chosen to be part of the program. To go to an elite top level performance centre and learn from a former Olympic Legend such as Michael Johnson is an incredible opportunity. I’m hoping the lessons I can learn will help me as I continue to pursue accessibility for disabled sport back in the UK. There is so much more I want to do in this area and I am so excited that the Michael Johnson Foundation will help me achieve it.”

    Coaches Across Continents is delighted to be a part of this initiative. As a global leader in sport for social impact, the organization was honored to be asked to facilitate the recruitment and selection of qualified young leaders for the project as well as supporting them before, during and after they take part in the course in Dallas. We are pleased to have been able to work with some of our implementing partners and offer this opportunity to their most promising young leaders. The selected young leaders have the capacity to become strong role models in their community and make the most of this life-changing project. We are extremely grateful to Michael Johnson, Beyond Sport and others who are helping these young people reach their full potential.

    Thanks to project partner Beyond Sport for the majority of this post.

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    Fatma, from Zanzibar, is one of the selected young leaders.

  • Online Education Program Runs Across 4 Continents

    April 22nd 2016. In December 2015 twelve participants successfully graduated from the first worldwide Online Education Program (OEP) in Sport for Social Impact. Coaches Across Continents (CAC) was delighted to certify these participants who invested 160 hours each during this 9-month course. The coaches are now qualified to use online technology, including Sport Session Planner (SSP), Skype, and email. Through these skills they are now further impacting children and youth locally and globally by sharing games through the online platform SSP. In 2015 the participants represented 7 different countries on the Asian and African continent.

    This year in March the 2nd year of our Online Education Program started. After the exciting first year we wanted it to grow and give more people the chance to learn using modern technology. We sent the invitation out and within two weeks we received 60 applications. We have been overwhelmed by this high interest. The applicants underwent a very competitive selection process whereby at the end 30 participants were accepted.

    The initial idea of starting an Online Education Program in Sport for Social Impact was that we wanted to offer trainings to coaches that were not able to receive On-Field training with CAC; usually because the safety situation in their community would not allow us to run a program in that particular place. Therefore we are particularly delighted to have 6 participants on the program this year that have never received CAC On-Field training before. Some of the countries that are represented by these coaches are South Sudan, Armenia and India. Looking at all the participants we have coaches from 17 different countries located on 4 different continents: Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. Please have a look at the map below to see that the OEP in its 2nd year has already become a global initiative. The markers represent the locations of all the participants in the 2nd year of CAC’s Online Education Program.

    Our vision for the future of the OEP reflects the idea of being able to run a complete On-Field program without being physically present. Let’s see if we can make that happen for 2017. For now we wish our current participants good luck and lots of fun for this year’s program. Let us grow the network of people who have skills to use Sport and Technology as a tool to impact their communities.

    OEP Map

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