• 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.

  • ISF Coaches Take the Lead!

    August 30th, 2017. Michael Johnson Young Leader, Ryan, writes about experience working with Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) in Cambodia alongside Coaches Across Continents.

    I went to Cambodia with a very open mind and was excited to see how CAC used football as a tool for social impact. I really liked the self-directed learning model they had in place. I have always felt very passionate about sport and I know from personal experience how life-changing sport can be. I wanted to learn more about the social messages that football has taught in the Cambodian community. I realised that Cambodian people face a number of social issues and it really hit home how many messages through football help people facing these social challenges. Not only face these challenges, but allow the coaches that Coaches Across Continents has been training to take these games and teach them in their communities, making a real difference to so many lives.

    On the first day of training, all the coaches from ISF (Indochina Starfish Foundation) were very welcoming and friendly. We had some younger players from a local program that works with young people who have been affected by HIV. CAC coaches, Mark and Emily, ran games on the first day alongside Nara and Panya who are two experienced coaches that have taken part in the CAC programme for the last few years. It was great to see all the coaches having fun – their love and passion for football was evident. Mark and I visited a disability session at Rabbit School in the afternoon and the session was great as it was very inclusive, fun and the coaches had a great relationship with all the students varying in disability.

    On the Tuesday we returned to the training field where some of the experienced coaches who have been in the programme with CAC before, were asked if they would like to run a game. A few of them put their hand up, and ran games that they knew and had used in their community before. Many were CAC games but some were games they had created in their local community addressing social issues, inspired by the Coaches Across Continents Self-Directed Learning Model. In the afternoon we visited one of the ISF schools for kids whose parents are unable to provide their kids education. We met with some of the staff and students who were really friendly and we watched an afternoon football coaching session led by a some of the coaches from the CAC programme.

    Unfortunately Mark was unwell on Wednesday so the ISF coaches were asked to run more of the games. I also ran my own game too which was a trust exercise where we used blindfolds and I asked the coaches to guide one another through an obstacle course. In this I was also able to get the coaches to run as fast as they could with blindfolds on, which was fun for all. In the afternoon we visited another IFS school, which was much smaller than the school from the day before – but, all the teachers and students were very friendly and they welcomed us at the gate with hugs and lots of questions. They asked us our names, where we are from and whether we would play with them. It was really nice to hang out with the students, watch them play sports with one another and see them having lots of fun.

    After the training on the Wednesday, the ISF coaches were asked to plan and run the activities for the Thursday. As we left after the training the coaches were all in discussions, planning the next day. When we arrived at the training field on the Thursday, the ISF coaches were all ready to go and beginning to set up their activities. They ran a morning of some CAC games but what was most impressive was that they came up with their own games too that had social messages. The training ran smoothly and was really well organised. In the afternoon we visited a school where the ISF coaches worked and there were four football sessions happening with both boys and girls of different age groups. The sessions were fun and it was great to see so many talented footballers at the school.

    On Friday, it was CAC’s turn to run some games and a lot of the activities were game orientated so the coaches were very tired at the end. But, they had good fun and can now implement some of these games in their coaching programmes. I ran a game too which I really enjoyed called Child Rights: Right to Education game. I really appreciate the impact of the social messages that these games provide. After training we headed for some food on the roadside with some of the ISF coaches and kids from a community hub supporting youth who have been affected by HIV. We went to their community and the ISF coaches ran a great session with around 50 kids using some of the HIV social impact games. It was great to see the ISF coaches working with the kids and the amazing laughter and excitement the kids had playing these games.

    It has been a great first week on field in Cambodia, it has been great meeting with all the coaches and seeing their coaching styles, and learning new coaching ideas from them. Seeing the close relationships with the kids they coach was the biggest take away for me. I am looking forward to seeing the ISF coaches coach more next week and personally learn more of the games CAC uses to help social change.

  • 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.

  • Somos Niñas Sin Miedo – We Are Girls Without Fear

    June 8th 2017. ASK for Choice Strategist, Nora Dooley, shares thoughts about the 2nd On-Field training in collaboration with Postobón and Nike in Bogotá, Colombia.

    Is it natural to fear? Do evolving human beings carry traces of antiquated phobias? Are evolutionary fears related to learned fears? Fears that we adopt because of all the interconnected strings pulling at our lives from the moment we are born – fear of failure, fear of the unknown, fear of other… Social and cultural fears being the more present and immediate evolutions, adding tension to our human experiences with their restrictions, walls, and immobilizing forces.

    I am a woman with fears (spiders and death to name a few)… but I think there is a difference, albeit blurry, between learning with and owning your fears, and being taught to fear by your environment. I was (and still am) lucky to have been nurtured in a space where fear was offered recognition but never deference. And that, I believe, is exactly what Niñas sin Miedo is doing in the hills of Soacha, Colombia.

    Let me please tell you – these girls are powerful. From their booming voices answering open-ended and complicated questions about gender in Colombian society, to their passion for play and commitment to the beautiful communities of Los Pinos and Bella Vista. These are areas few might label as ‘rich’ but having been there myself, having worked with and learned from the Niñas as well as several other leaders from organizations around Soacha, I can vouch for the seemingly endless riches at play here.

    At a time in Colombia – and in the world – where working through our fears, engaging in dialogues with people from different backgrounds, asking ourselves difficult, uncomfortable questions, challenging our accepted beliefs about our lives and our worlds, it feels timely, essential, and poetic that this group of human beings was brought together. And especially for the girls, the women, and any human that has ever felt marginalized or discriminated by a society that learned to fear uncertainty or  ‘other’.

    I once again feel so honored to have shared space and time, and to have collectively raised consciousness with a group of inspiring leaders in Colombia. Thanks to our ongoing alliance with Postobón, Nike Colombia, and our impressive local implementing partners like Niñas sin Miedo, we’ve been gifted opportunities to laugh, dance, play and dig deep into what gender equality looks like, and what we are going to do, personally and collectively, to arrive at a more equal future.

    When people unite energies, particularly people from a variety of perspectives, histories, environments, sports, and all the intricate factors that make us who we are, I passionately believe this is when the magic of creation is unleashed. I also believe, together with a diverse group of individuals and organizations from across Bogotá, Colombia for a week in May 2017, that we harnessed that magic and created something that will transcend borders, walls, harmful cultures, and, yes, fear.

    These Niñas sin Miedo have inspired me to live beyond my fears – and I am so excited to hear their voices echoing around the world.

     

    El 8 de Junio, 2017. Nora Dooley de CAC y ‘ASK for Choice’ comparte su experiencia sobre la segunda capacitación de la alianza con Postobón y Nike en Bogotá, Colombia.

    ¿Es natural para tener miedo? ¿Los seres humanos llevan vestigios de fobias anticuadas? Miedos que adoptamos por todas las cuerdas interconectadas desde el momento en que nacemos – el miedo de fracasar, el miedo de lo desconocido, el miedo del otro… Los miedos sociales y culturales siendo las formas más presentes y inmediatas de evolución, añadiendo tensión a nuestras experiencias humanas con sus límites, paredes, y fuerzas de inmovilización.

    Soy una mujer con miedos (las arañas y la muerte para nombrar algunos)… pero creo que hay una diferencia, aunque borrosa, entre aprender y reconocer sus miedos, y ser enseñad@ a tener miedo por su ambiente. Yo tenía (y todavía tengo) mucha suerte para ser criada en un espacio donde el miedo era ofrecido reconocimiento pero nunca deferencia. Y eso, yo creo, es exactamente lo que Niñas sin Miedo está haciendo en las comunas de Soacha, Colombia.

    Déjame decir por favor – estas niñas son poderosas. De sus voces resonantes contestando preguntas abiertas y complicadas sobre genero en la sociedad colombiana, a su pasión para jugar y su compromiso a las comunidades bonitas de Los Pinos y Bella Vista. Quizá poca gente se puede decir que estas áreas son ‘ricas’, pero de mi punto de vista, habiendo aprendido y trabajado con las Niñas y otros líderes de organizaciones alrededor Soacha, yo puedo asegurar que hay muchisimas riquezas en efecto allí.

    En un momento en Colombia – igual en el mundo – cuando trabajando por nuestros miedos, abordando en diálogos con gente de perspectivas distintas, haciéndonos preguntas difíciles y incómodas, desafiando nuestras creencias aceptadas sobre nuestras vidas y mundos… parece oportuno, esencial y poético que este grupo de humanos se reunió. Y especialmente para las niñas, las mujeres, y cualquier humano que se ha sentido marginad@ o discriminad@ por una sociedad que aprendió a tener miedo de incertidumbre.

    Me siento otra vez tan honrada para compartir espacio y tiempo, y para elevar colectivamente la conciencia con un grupo de líderes tan inspiradores en Colombia. Gracias a nuestra alianza con Postobón, Nike Colombia, y nuestros aliados locales como Niñas sin Miedo, se nos ha regalado oportunidades a reír, bailar, jugar, y profundizar qué significa ‘igualdad de genero’ y qué  vamos a hacer, personalmente y colectivamente, para llegar a un futuro más justo.

    Cuando las personas unen energías, particularmente personas de diferentes historias, ambientes, deportes, y todos los factores que contribuyen a nosotr@s mism@s, yo creo – apasionadamente – que esto es cuando la magia de creación está soltada. También creo que junt@s con este grupo de individuos y organizaciones diversas de todo Bogotá durante una semana en Mayo 2017, que aprovechamos esa magia y creamos algo que puede trascender fronteras, paredes, culturas dañosas, y sí, el miedo.

    Estas Niñas sin Miedo me han inspirado a vivir más allá de mis miedos – y me siento tan emocionada para escuchar a sus voces resonando alrededor del mundo.

  • Free On The Field

    May 30th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo returns to work with CAC and the Ministry of Sport in Unguja, Zanzibar. 

    This week we were back on the largest island of Zanzibar, Unguja, for what is now the fifth consecutive year. Community Impact Coach Nico and I participated here for the first time, though Nick has been here almost every year. With nearly eighty participants, a pristine turf field at the city stadium, adequate cones, and a horde of One World Futbols, we could not have asked for a better setup for our program. The end result did not disappoint – we dodged (almost all of) the rain, played over forty different games, and capped off our excellent week with a much-hyped full-field match between coaches and teachers. Though we ran the program at a fast pace, we did not sacrifice depth: we had a number of substantial discussions about opportunities for girls and women – on and off the field – the rights of children, and how the prevailing Islamic culture in the Zanzibar archipelago underpins local attitudes on these topics. All around, we had a fantastic week.

    One of the best things about the week was just another simple reminder about why the sports field is such a special place.  On the field, people are free. Free to express themselves in the way they play each game. Despite a language barrier, I’ve often felt like I get to know each participant personally by watching how they play; the way they run or approach the ball reveals something about a player’s personality. It is nothing short of beautiful to assemble a group of men and women of widely ranging ages and watch each of them light up when they receive the ball, or solve a problem, or, most brilliantly, when they celebrate scoring, and to witness them shed some of the restraint they may exhibit off the field. Ultimately, stepping onto the field grants players the liberty to be themselves. It is a form of expression, and the games we play make this joy accessible to participants of any age or ability. For many, sports can be an outlet or a refuge from anything else in their lives; once they take the field, nothing outside of the field matters anymore. While football has this power in all corners of the globe, somehow I never get tired of recognizing it.  

    Realizing this anew underscored for me the significance of a major focus of our program: the value of offering all children – boys and girls alike –  the opportunity to play sports, and secondly, ensuring that those children are protected from all forms of abuse on the field. When communities and families can be rife with conflict, violence and abuse, the opportunity to play freely and safely is ever more valuable to children. To deny that to any child, whether because of their gender or ability or by allowing the field to become an abusive environment, slims the chance that any of those children will grow up to escape the cycle of violence. In our program, we spent considerable time discussing the ways that adults abuse children, how to recognize this abuse, and, most crucially, how to find other ways for our coach and teacher participants to discipline their children. We devoted several other conversations to discussing how and why girls are excluded from sports, finding that the often strict Islamic culture discourages people from allowing girls to play sports, football in particular. Though opposing a dominant religion can stir controversy, as the participants seemed to decide that their girls did in fact have the right to play sports, we explored ways that they could offer girls the opportunity to play without contradicting religion. There remains a significant cultural resistance to overcome, but we tried to avoid pitting girls playing sports against our participants’ religion.

    The Ministry of Education also plans to implement CAC curriculum in all of the schools in Unguja, so we can now see how the five years of CAC programs have been appealing to people, and that the discussions we’ve begun on the field have spread off the field throughout the other 51 weeks each year. Excited to see what this program will look like in its sixth year!

  • Gender: Zooming in and out as We Search for Equality

    May 5, 2017. Nora Dooley shares thoughts after her visit with long-time partners ACER Brasil in Diadema for the fifth year of programming and first year of ASK for Choice.

     

    What does it mean to be a man? To do something ‘like a man’? To be ‘masculine’?
    What about a woman? Female? Feminine?

    As the lines between genders blur and we begin to understand the origins of these identities, we become better equipped to recognize, question, and challenge expectations, norms, traditions, and cultures that limit us – whoever we are, whatever we call ourselves.

    But…

    While the smashing of labels and boxes that contain us sends a powerful message to any who dare assume our strengths, abilities, and vulnerabilities – our wants, needs, and fears – solely based on what body we are born to… can those same labels serve a collective, more equal future? And if we use those labels to empower us – to put language to injustice and call out oppressing forces – how do we strike the balance between the ideal and the real? How do we walk and breathe equality in a vastly unequal reality?

    These are some of the complex questions we explored on the futsal court last week in Diadema where we have worked for several years with our partners, ACER Brasil.

    Through almost 50 different games and activities we moved together as a group of humans, each with our own individual experiences and visions, towards a tangible, practical, and sustainable goal. We navigated the existing issues and climates that contribute to the realities people in Brazil (and the rest of the world!) are faced with each day, and emerged through this complicated, sometimes blinding, fog with a fresh sense of possibility.

    This group of women and men from different communities, and with nearly 50 years of life between some, welcomed me for the second consecutive year into their space. They offered me their time, ideas, voices, ears, kindness, hugs, and willingness to march together for a future where all of us have access, knowledge, and opportunities to make the choices that will serve our personal and collaborative aims. I feel so honored to have had the opportunity to build on this rich partnership, introducing and tasting new ASK for Choice flavors, and sharing this inspiring and creative environment with the ACER team and our other valuable partners.

    In the final days we made commitments to ourselves and to each other to continue asking ‘Why?’ and to move with clear eyes from the ‘What?’ to the ‘How?’. We played, laughed, danced, discussed, dug deep, reflected, and created. I leave Brazil eager to watch and listen as these leaders bring policies to life in their communities and beyond.

    Obrigada, Diadema! Eu Vou…