• From Phnom Penh to the Philippines

    May 6th 2016. CAC Community Impact Coach Makara Sopheak from our partner ISF in Cambodia writes about his time with CAC and FundLife International in the Philippines. Thanks to ISF who first published this blog.

    My name is Makara Sopheak. I am one of the senior coaches at Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF). I always dreamed of being a football coach and developing football in Cambodia. I used to be the leader of my high school football team and then I was a volunteer coach. I have learned many things since I came to ISF in 2011, I got to know many other football organizations and worked closely with them, especially Coaches Across Continents (CAC). For some years, CAC has been working with ISF to teach coaching and football for social change. They also do international exchanges when coaches from different countries train each other. This month, I was selected to be a Community Impact Coach in CAC’s program in The Philippines with FundLife International.

    After working with CAC for a few years, in the coaching program and doing the Online Education initiative, I was thrilled to hear that I was selected to join the program in The Philippines.  I immediately started to prepare documents and exercises to do during the training. The CAC program in the Philippine is similar to Cambodia and they organize an exchange to share sport for social development skills with other coaches.  The training is based on doing fun games to teach about social issues. In this case, the CAC program was focused on child rights and gender equality.

    The reason that I wanted to be part of the program was because I want to work closely with CAC in order to learn more about football and share it to other coaches both in Cambodia and other countries. Charlie from CAC and I provided training to 82 coaches in Tacloban and BayBay. First they learnt about some of the games we developed and then they got to create games by themselves. Some Filipino Community Impact Coaches helped us with the sessions.

    Besides sharing and coaching them, I also learned a lot from the Filipino coaches. They taught me some English football terms and new methods to create football games about social issues like HIV. Joining this program taught me about being flexible and improved my communication skills with foreigners. I also learned a lot more about football for social change.

    It was the first time for me to travel abroad and I really like The Philippines: the green environment, nice food and very friendly people. Even though some things (like flying for the first time) were a bit challenging, I would like to work with the CAC team in the future to do more training abroad. After coming back, I talked to our coaches about what I learned in The Philippines and what skills they need to also do an international exchange. On top of that, I will talk to our Football Programme Manager to arrange a training course that I have done in The Philippines to share with other coaches.  I hope other coaches will get the opportunity like me to work with the CAC staff and exchange ideas with others coaches.

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  • Baybay: Sweeter the Second Time Around

    May 5th 2016. CAC Community Impact Coach Hazel Cerena writes about her week with CAC in Baybay, Philippines.

    On its second year, Coach Patty and I (from Football for Life) helped lead the CAC training alongside Coach Charlie and Coach Makara (a Community Impact Coach from Cambodia). There was a mix of excitement and fear since Charlie told me and Coach Patty that CAC Chief Executive Strategist Brian wanted to push us (not literally) during the seminar. We would lead most of the drills so I was hoping I could make it interesting for the participants.

    First day came and while we were waiting for the participants, it was a bright sunny day in Baybay National High School. As the participants arrived I was told that most were PE teachers but upon their arrival, I noticed some of them were hardly fit and never played football. The teachers from the school made a small opening ceremony to formally introduce us and each of us coaches gave a little speech for the participants. All I really wanted was for them was to promote football for social change within the city, learn from the seminar, but mostly, to have fun.

    I volunteered myself to do the Messi Skills for Life game which was a relatively easy game because it was more on technical skills than the other games. As I have said earlier, it was a bit challenging for some of the participants since most of them weren’t football players but never they never gave up which I really found inspiring. Day one was well spent and on the way to our hotel, we passed through a shortcut which revealed a rice field with the view of the mountains. It was too beautiful to not notice.

    On the second day, the participants were more confident and more active on the games. There was one particular participant who was very enthusiastic, he was bringing more colour to the games and immediately became the star of the group (not that I’m being biased but he was really cheerful!).

    Early evening we had a nice swim at a resort inside Visayas State University, where we held the first CAC training. Coach Patty, Coach Charlie, and I were practicing our Frisbee skills in the swimming pool while coach Makara was on the side, happily taking pictures of us (unfortunately he doesn’t know how to swim).

    We had more challenging games on the third day, where their creative juices were being brought out and truthfully, they never failed to deliver. Everyone was actively participating and enjoying the games.

    There were two highlights of the seminar, each of them came from the female coaches who shared their experiences. On our talk about gender equity in Baybay, one female coach was very emotional when she was sharing her childhood experience to the group. It wasn’t how she was mistreated about being a girl but how her childhood disposition made her into what she is right now. The other female coach who delivered her speech towards the end of the program said she was expecting the usual, boring seminar but to her surprise she had never sweated that much in a seminar! And for that, she was very thankful to us coaches for the knowledge we shared with them for the past four days plus a promise to promote football for social change in their community.

    The experiences I had with Baybay was definitely sweeter this time around.


  • The Future of the Philippines

    May 18th 2015. Community Impact Coach (CIC), Patty Caceres from Football for Life, joined CAC in Baybay, Philippines to assist in the training of educators as sport for social impact coaches. As she breaks down the program, we get a true snapshot of a CAC training from the perspective of an incredible CIC.

    A week ago today was the conclusion of an intensive two and a half day sport for social impact coaches’ seminar by multi-award winning Coaches Across Continents (CAC) in Baybay City, Leyte.  The seminar was made possible by the Football for Life (F4L) Program from Tacloban City which has, since August 2014, used football as a tool to rebuild the lives of children and youth of Tacloban after typhoon Haiyan.  Coaches Nora Dooley, senior development lead coach of the CAC and Charlie Pomroy of CAC’s Cambodia implementing partner Globalteer were the tandem coaches who visited the Philippines this year.

    In October of last year, CAC came to Tacloban featuring the first year of their Hat Trick Initiative to teach coaches, educators and leaders on how to use sport as a tool to educate about different social issues and to teach life lessons (shout out to coaches Brian and Kelly, hello!)  This year, after the second year seminar in Tacloban, CAC and F4L went on a two plus hour ride south to Baybay City.

    And we from the F4L were accompanying the CAC not merely as staff to handle logistics but we were tasked to assist them by coaching and sharing our coaching experiences and learnings from the two CAC seminars we’ve already attended to the participants.  (Challenge accepted!)  Here is an account of the four days spent in the very scenic Visayas State University (VSU):

    Day 0 (May 6)

    Today, coaches Nora and Charlie and we F4L staff and coaches Paula, Hazel and I travel to Baybay.  We waited for the van to be filled up by other passengers, since we arrived way ahead of schedule in the terminal.  We left Tacloban at around 5:30 in the afternoon.  I was unusually awake the whole time of the trip, nauseous as I often am on landtrips, I just couldn’t sleep (cue music, “I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it”).  We arrived in Baybay before 8 p.m. and our gracious host Dr. Aleli Villocino, VSU’s Institute of Human Kinetics Director greeted us at the terminal.  She brought us to a fancy café resto downtown to purchase to-go dinner.  She bade us farewell and we headed off to VSU where upon arrival, IHK staff assigned us to our accommodations. (Tomorrow is going to be a long day!).

    Day 1 (May 7)

    We had breakfast at 7 a.m., a minibus was waiting for us at 7:45, we had to be transported to the upper campus, the venue of the seminar, since our accommodations are in the lower campus.  Participants registered and came in, filling up a tiny portion of the IHK gym (the unfilled space intimidates me, this is not good but still, game face on!)  By 9 a.m. the opening program started with a prayer, the Philippine National Anthem was sung next, then Dr. Aleli gave her warm words of welcome.  Then I spoke to talk about who we from the F4L are and what we do in Tacloban before I gave the floor to the coaches to start the session.  (I stuttered a little bit, I am more used to giving speeches with notes but when I took a deep breath and just talked with passion, I stuttered no more).

    We then went outside to the wide football field, where the CAC staple, Circle of Friends, as a warm-up was introduced.  Then still in the circle, Ronaldo Skills were taught.  The eagerness to learn and the group’s fun disposition made for a morning filled with laughter.  Ronaldo Tag was played next, then Ronaldo for Health and Wellness.  And when time came to go in groups, (cue music, “mingle, mingle, mingle) we all danced to Mingle Mingle.  Ronaldo for Gender Equity was up next.  Then the football games, Ronaldo for Conflict Resolution and Ronaldo for Fun.  By lunchtime, the group had decided to transfer to the lower campus, where the cafeteria is located and our accommodations too (yehey!).

    Before heading onto the field, Coach Nora discussed about the differences between sport and sport for social impact.  The participants were attentive and yes, some were skeptical as to the how’s and why’s of sport for social impact.  But I’m sure that in the culmination of the seminar, the skeptics will be believers.  On-field, Marta Skills and Combination skills were done.  Jaguars vs. Blackbirds was next then Marta for Conflict Resolution was played.  Coach Hazel and I then introduced Old Trafford Tag, one we learned from last year’s seminar.

    The day was capped off with the Marta for Gender Equity and Marta for Fun games.  Though some participants are not football players, it’s amusing how they try their best to do the tasks with perseverance and enthusiasm.  After the activities and some rest, the three of us, Paula, Hazel and I went to the beach for a swim, to watch the beautiful sunset and just talk and relax after a strenuous day.

    Day 2 (May 8)

    The day started with a review of yesterday’s drills and activities.  Participants went in groups to make visual aids of the games played yesterday, each group had representatives to discuss the drills most especially, explain on the social impact of the drills. We then proceeded to the activities, starting off with Tim Howard “T-Ho” (goalkeeping) skills and T-Ho for Conflict Resolution.  Coach Hazel and I led the Pair Scrimmage.  Watching the participants play like kids and having fun humbles me.  T-Ho for Gender Equity and T-Ho for Fun were the last activities for the morning.  After returning from lunch, a Child’s Rights discussion was led by Coach Nora.  The afternoon was spent on games discussing HIV as a social issue as well as the Right to Family and the Right to Education games.  CAC and F4L then spent a delightful dinner with the VSU President, Dr. Jose Bacusmo, and IHK workforce.  A healthy exchange of thoughts occurred.  (I think that happens when you all had a nice meal!)

    Day 3 (May 9)

    Today, we spent half a day doing drills and discussions.  We were set to go back to Tacloban later in the afternoon.  The drills and games included that tackled on Child’s Rights, What Makes a Good Leader? And Ideal Man and Ideal Woman.  Some of these games were rather a source of discourse, especially the notions on women and their role in society.  Do you have that thing that ticks you off? For me, it’s the fact that some men still think that women are not as good as men, and they’re better off at home.  It’s just sad that the men of today are or will be fathers of daughters and if these men don’t learn to respect women as equals, how backward our society will be.

    Lesson learned: Always have that patience for those in darkness.  In the end though, the discussions clarified everything and seeing those people who were closed-minded in the beginning “evolve” into more empathetic people makes me look at the future with hope.  I just wish everyone would be as open-minded to the fact that when we empower women in our society, the better our society will be.  Remember that old adage that goes, “Two heads are better than one”?  We need just that, woman and man helping each other to achieve real progress in society.

    The two and a half day of games and discussions ended with distribution of certificates and souvenir t-shirts to the participants.  Short talks were also given by Prof. Aleli, some of the participants, me and coaches Nora and Charlie.  In his speech, Coach Charlie quoted Steve Jobs who said, “The people who think they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do.”  I love this quote a lot and it really reminded me that the impact we can have on the lives of the people we associate with are enough to change the world.  Out of college, on to my first interview for a teaching position which I totally aced, I told the dean that I have this personal motto of “Helping change the world, one student or class at a time.”  I hope that in one way or another I am doing just that with coaching and educating.

    Passion is the thing that should drive us to be of impact to others and to be the best versions of ourselves, and I am thankful that the CAC seminars I’ve attended and assisted just made that passion burn all the more. Snapshots were taken as souvenirs and new friendships blossomed.  We then went to our accommodations to pack our bags.  We left Baybay in the afternoon today but the memories of fun and the learnings are sure to stay.  Arriving in Tacloban though, the day was far from over, Coach Nora spent her birthday last May 7 coaching so we had dinner of barbecue and cake plus Philippine exotic food, balut, to truly celebrate.  (I know coaches Nora and Charlie didn’t enjoy the balut, but at least, you’ve really been to the Philippines because you tried, haha!)