• Changing Lives Through Sports

    November 24th, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Shamsher, writes about his experience working alongside Coaches Across Continents as a partner with ChildReach Nepal and a new member of the Community Impact Coach Initiative on-field with Go Sports Nepal

    There are many organization that works with CAC in partnership, among them Childreach Nepal is one of them who uses sports as a tool to educate children outside of classroom. In 2016 I attended CAC training as a participant with Mark Gabriel the Self-Directed Learning Coach on-field. I was an intern during that time and later on I was selected for the Training and Monitoring Officer position at ChildReach Nepal. Fortunately this year also I got a chance to work with Mark Gabriel again and learn from his coaching skills because I was inspired by them. In the two week program with Childreach Nepal at two different districts Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk Mark Gabriel and Ashlyn Hardie saw my coaching abilities and improvements. They offered me to join CAC team as Community Impact Coach to deliver training to the Go Sports Nepal program in Kathmandu. I was extremely happy when I heard that and I am also really grateful for the offer that was provided to me. Go Sports Nepal is also a partner of Coaches Across Continents who uses the sport for development methodology.

    Most of the participants were from different fields like NGO’s, local schools, football coaches, the Women’s National Team Rugby Coach, and local male and female football players. As the youngest participant, everyone was asking me how I became a coach at the age of just 23. I was little bit nervous on the first day but I tried to hide my nervousness and showed my confidence. When I was leading the game “Say No to Child Labor”, which I adapted from “Say No to Trafficking”, in the last round of the game I introduced a policeman to catch the broker and a player who represented a policeman came to me and he wanted to take picture with me in the middle of game. I told him to go and catch a tagger who represented a broker in the community….but he was said “No no please, one photo with you”. I was laughing at him, still he was ignoring me and wants to take a photo. That was one of the most unique parts for me.

    Since, I am from local organization there are lots of possibility to work together in the upcoming future thanks to the networking that CAC initiated. I also networked with some other local organizations and schools that will be fruitful in the coming days. For example, mid-week after the training I went to Football stadium ANFA with Mark and Ashlyn to watch live game between NEPAL and Philippines for the Asian Cup Qualifier game which was also one of the highlighted part of the week! On the next day after the training we visited Vajra Academy, a Green School in Kathmandu, which took 1.5 hours bus ride from field. The school is little bit far from the main city and it has been doing great work such as aware people on different issues that they are facing in the community and also provided opportunities for students and villagers to maintain quality of life in the future. We then also discussed the possibilities of collaborating and working together in the coming days. At the end of program I sang a song “Che Che Cooley” and dance with all participants which was superb ending!

    This was an amazing week for me. I got a chance to lead many sessions and give feedback to other coaches through coach-backs, which has made me a role-model for them. I am very thankful to Mark Gabriel, Ashlyn Hardie, Ian and JK for giving me a chance to become CIC and helping me to become better coach. Personally, I would like to thank especially Mark Gabriel for starting the opportunity and networking with Vajra Academy. I look forward to working with CAC again in the future.

     

     

     

  • Believe In Sport, Invest In People

    November 22nd, 2017. Watson Fellow from Bard College, Harry Johnson working with Jungle Crows Foundation, writes about  joining us in our partnership with ChildReach Nepal in Dolakha. 

    I like to call myself a believer, but I wasn’t always one. Growing up in a low-income, single-parent household, it didn’t matter that I had good grades and stayed out of trouble; going to college was always much more of a dream than a reality. My coaches never seemed to see the world the way I did. They always seemed to have this odd fascination with “Life” and used every available opportunity to talk about it. It didn’t matter if a player’s grades had dropped, someone had missed practice or just simply messed up in a drill, the lesson following always seemed to leave the realm of what it took to be a great basketball player. You see, my coaches knew my community. They understood my slang; they knew where to get the best haircut in town and what things negatively affect the lives of youth on the daily basis. They were from my world. A world in which hope is hard to come by and struggle was even harder to escape. They knew who I was, where I was from, but believed sports had the ability to change this kid’s life forever. This kid being me, of course.

    Now, months after graduating from Bard College I am traveling the world searching for innovative ways in which sports could be used to combat a range of social issues. Through the first 3 months of my trip one theme has stood out above the rest and made me question the sports evangelistic views I once held. Through my first three months I have become more of a believer in the power of people than in sport itself. My trip to Dolakha, Nepal with Coaches Across Continents only further solidified this shift in perception.

    After an exhausting 8-hour bus ride, up the side of a mountain, a group of 12 coaches speaking four languages and representing 3 different organizations (Jungle Crows Foundation, Child Reach Nepal and Coaches Across Continents) sat around a table and attempted to hash out the details of what the first session would look like. I sat and listened to these conversations mostly interested in hearing about the “Self-Directed Learning” curriculum of CAC. Even though I got to see the curriculum put into action every day during the sessions, the dinner table debriefs shed the most light on what “self-direction” truly meant. While the conversation was usually started by Mark and Ashlyn from CAC, the coaches and young leaders from Child Reach Nepal and the Jungle Crows Foundation were pushed to lead the direction of the discussion. The coaches evaluated their own communities, highlighted the salient issues, and both adapted old and created new games that would be used as a vehicle to get youth to think critically about their communities. It was at this table that the coaches welcomed criticism just as much as they did an extra C-momo. While the pictures from the week may highlight how much fun the school-children in Dolakha had during the sessions with CRN, JCF, the moments that weren’t caught on camera were the most important. It was in these moments that CAC could work with its partners to ensure that the smiles you see in the recap picture are sustained for years to come.

    At this point in my Watson journey, it was amazing to have the opportunity to tag along with an organization that believes in sports, but invest in the power of people. It’s amazing because even though I may have been the same person I am today without the game basketball; I know I would not be in the position I am today without my coaches – coaches who could see a reality beyond my immediate circumstance, and coaches who knew how to help me see it for myself. Most importantly, coaches that were personally invested in my community and weren’t going to disappear anytime soon.

     

  • From Nshima and Dance Parties to Burning Trash and Bumpy Roads

    June 26th 2017. Global Citizen Charlie Overton wrote about CAC’s partnership with Zanimuone Black Stars in Lusaka, Zambia. 

    From eating Nshima (pronounced shima) and having dance parties to burning landfills of trash and very bumpy roads, my time in Lusaka Zambia will be with me for a lifetime. It was life changing as well as memorable. Furthermore, it was humbling and gratifying. Living in Lusaka was unlike any experience I’ve had in my life up until now.

    Ashlyn and I stayed with our organizer, Betty, her husband of five years, Felix, and eight children ranging from ages 1 to 18. Now, if you think that Betty had all these children herself in some kind of “octomom” fashion, as well as working as a secretary, taxi driver, and starting a not for profit organization, then you would be wrong. She does work as all those things, but not all the children are directly hers. Three of them are her own, and the others she has welcomed into her home and they come from all different paths. Chikondi, who is around thirteen, is from Betty’s sister who passed away. Miriam, whom I apologize I do not know her exact age, but I believe is around seven or eight, came from Betty’s brother. He kept dropping Miriam off with Betty and then at different times coming back to pick her up. Betty saw this as very disruptive to Miriam’s growth as she kept being pulled out of school, so eventually she said enough was enough and that Miriam was going to stay with her. Then there are Moses, who I believe is around nine or ten, Chard, who we called Chadrick, eighteen, and his sister Jessica, seventeen. They all came from the surrounding area. Moses from one of Betty’s friends who she saw was unable to feed him. Chadrick came to Betty looking for work and Jessica came a little later when Chadrick told Betty that their parents did not want Jessica to go to school anymore. They all work very hard cleaning and cooking around the house in exchange for money, accommodation, and education. The three that are Betty’s own are named Bright, one, and Felix Jr., four, they do not do much but waddle around and ask for the football. Betty’s oldest, Alisha, aged ten, loved Indian soap operas when she was not at school, I am sure working hard! This was the setting we lived in for one week, and it taught me a lot about the value of hard work and working for everything you have. That is what these kids are learning in Betty’s household, because as she said, “they need to work hard, because life won’t be easy,” that is a very valuable lesson. It is one I can remember my parents trying to get me to understand, but I was not very receptive to it. I suppose I had to travel to Zanimuone West in Lusaka, Zambia for it to really hit home.

    As in any place there are always not as nice things that go along with the nice ones, and Lusaka was no different. These things included that near the field we did our training at there was a massive landfill that was constantly burning their trash in order to make room for the even more massive amounts of trash coming in. On one of the days the wind shifted and caused the smoke to come and hang right over our field, this caused breathing to be very difficult. Furthermore, Zanimuone West, the district of Lusaka we were staying in, was an up and coming area, therefore, the roads had not been paved so it was very rocky and bumpy and in many places. However, this also created some funny moments, such as pushing Betty’s car off of a huge bump that it got beached on. With the good and the bad, Lusaka proved to be extremely life changing, and I am very thankful to Betty and her family for housing us and feeding us. The experience will stay with me forever.

     

  • Spreading the Love

    May 18th 2017. CAC’s Ashlyn Hardie writes about her first week On-Field in Harare, Zimbabwe with the Sports and Recreation Commission.

    For months now I have been working part time for CAC, taking care of all social media outlets, newsletters, and posting the blogs from everyone else’s travel adventures. Finally, after months of build up to my first trip on-field as a CAC employee, I am able to post a blog about my very own personal experiences! Although this trip is the first of many experiences for me, I can already tell it will be incredibly unique.

    Our partners, Sports and Recreation Commission of Zimbabwe, have put us up at the guest lodge of Prince Edwards High School. This all boys boarding school is incredibly well known in Zimbabwe for producing the highest quality athletes, and giving a wide range of opportunities for their students to succeed in their future endeavors. Not only this, but the campus stands as a little patch of peace and beauty in the heart of the noise and commotion of Harare. Within hours of being on campus it seemed as though we had made so many new friends. The hospitality from every single Prince Edwards staff member was more than Emily and myself could have asked for. Teachers that we had met would swing by our place to walk us to meals at the dinning hall, offer to drive us to the store, took us to a professional game, and answered all of the many questions we had about life in Zim. Our partners at SRC and the people of Prince Edwards made us feel at home from the moment we arrived.

    The program this week took place at the PE training field, approximately 30 yards from our bedroom windows. It could not have been a better scenario for us to be able to walk out of our rooms, and onto the field! Plus that’s the dream right? Living spitting distance from a soccer pitch?

    Although the people of Zim are all raised speaking Shona, they all also learn English in school. This absolutely minimized our communication barriers, which made for a relaxing, smooth week with our participants. Being able to truly hear how they felt, and sense what they thought about certain topics without a translator gave us a more genuine feel for how these coaches interpreted the social issues in Zimbabwe. I had never seen the up close CAC on-field conversations before this week, but it is hard for me to imagine having them go much better. Some of the stand out conversations from the week were about child’s rights, female empowerment, environmental issues, and an incredibly controversial conversation about HIV education and our game titled “Condom Tag”.

    It was clear that throughout the week these 40 humans from different places and backgrounds were growing together and really digging in to discuss the issues that are sweeping over their communities. As much as I would love to highlight those talking points for anyone who reads this, I think it is more important to share how it felt to be in the presence of those conversations. I was not one hundred percent on how the games would work, and what they would provoke in person, but they exceeded my expectations. There were moments where you could see a lightbulb pop off above someone’s head, where they realized exactly how to convey this message to their kids, moments when you could feel the passion people had for their youth and communities from the tone of their voice. There were moments, not one but many, where I found myself contemplating the differences between my life at home and the lives of those I have come to know and appreciate here in Zim.

    The people of Zim are faced with governmental corruption, poverty, a lack of resources for their teams, and other ongoing hardships on a daily bases. Through this they walk with smiles. These coaches are working with minimal resources for their kids, and still are willing to give everything they have to make their communities a better place. Even those hosting us, have their own struggles, yet have done everything they can do to help us get around the city and feel welcomed. Writing this makes me think of all of those walking the planet who have everything but find themselves unhappy or unfulfilled. I think there is much to be said about the people of Zim, how they approach adversities, how they work and learn to be the best for the future generations, and how they walk with smiles even in hard times.

    I have spent my life loving the game of soccer, knowing what it did for me, and watching it change the lives of people around me. Here, thousands of miles away from home, I watch it do the same. This first week solidifies all the reasons that I took this job, and all the excitement I have moving forward in my time with CAC. At the end of our week one participant stood up and thanked us. He thanked us for coming in and making them feel comfortable, like equals, and like their voice mattered. My immediate response was to thank him too, because these people Harare took in two goofy white girls from the United States of America and hosted us with respect, kindness, and laughter. Soccer is not just a game. It is a lifestyle, a teacher, and a hope. Soccer is love. And on that note, I am happy to say I have 6 more weeks of this trip to keep on spreading it!