• 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.

  • 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…

  • ASK for Choice: International Women’s Day 2017

    Coaches Across Continents has been supporting March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD), for many years. We love being part of this beautiful tradition!

    Each year we share a packet of selected games from our curriculum to celebrate the amazing women and girls of this world. The activities address diverse needs and issues relating to gender equity. This year’s games are samples from our comprehensive curriculum on gender justice from the ASK for Choice program. Please email if you are interested in receiving the packet, or if you have questions about the games or anything else related to ASK for Choice. 

    IWD 2017 is slightly different from past years for CAC. As with any tradition in our lives and organization we are continuously examining what we are doing, why we are doing it, how it affects our partners and the citizens of this world, and always, how we can do it better. So this year we have added a key component to our March 8th celebrations. We have been working for several months (and years!) with our partners across the continents to design, develop, and implement locally relevant women’s rights policies and bring them to life on IWD. The ideas shared with us so far have been inspiring.
    After this year’s IWD we will be sharing the stories from celebrations of gender policies brought to life around the world. Please contact if you would like to add a story or policy idea to the collection. We are also happy to share some of these ideas before March 8th if you want some extra inspiration!
     
    Thanks to all of our partners and the thousands of incredible women and girls involved in our work at Coaches Across Continents. On March 8th, and beyond, we celebrate you!