• Lessons and Hopes for Women and Sport

    November 4th 2016. ASK for Choice Strategist Nora Dooley presented our female empowerment program at the IWG Africa Women and Sport Conference.

    Why did a white woman from the US go to the Africa Women and Sport Conference in Gaborone, Botswana?

    Because our ASK for Choice program is much, much more than any one human being.

    But I will not pretend representing something so massive and impactful – and potentially/hopefully revolutionary for the education of girls (and boys in the context of equality) – was easy.

    ASK for Choice does not fit into any one box. I would even venture to say that it takes a different shape for every individual who engages with the ASK for Choice curriculum and methodology. But these wonderful, self-directed circumstances of our gender equity program make it quite challenging to present in a 10-minute space for a group of people that have hardly (if ever) come into contact with development through sport (rather than the more widely understood strands of S4D: ‘sport plus’ or ‘plus sport’).

    So how do we tell the story of ASK for Choice? And how do we tell it in a way that will somehow allow the magic of it to reach the people who might benefit from engaging with ideas in the spaces that ASK for Choice creates?

    I don’t know. But in Gaborone I took a shot. And I met and learned with incredible women (and some men sprinkled in) about their thoughts on the current reality for women in sport in Africa.

    In two years the international community will have its turn in Gaborone. And here are my hopes:
    –  That those present are ready with ideas on the “how” while still engaging with the ever-important “what” and “why”.
    –  That we don’t forget that less than 1% of all people who play sport are professionals and focus our collective brainpower on the 99%-plus
    –  That we continue to challenge all sectors to join the conversation and take collaborative measures to move society towards equality
    –  That the women of ASK for Choice get an opportunity to contribute and share their triumphs


  • Large Predator Protection in Botswana!

    On Saturday the 18th of June, Sophie, Brian, and Dean traveled from Windhoek, Namibia to Maun, Botswana, where we met up with Paul “Gibbo” Gibbons from “Coerver Coaching.” Just as we had partnered with Special Olympics NamiP6280067bia to use soccer to broaden the lives of people with intellectual disabilities, we now looked forward to working with the “Botswana Predator Conservation Trust” to use “soccer for conservation” and create awareness of and commitment to large predators and their ecosystems. The BPCT is “a globally recognized wildlife conservation research program” that “aims to influence fundamental core values and the relationship local citizens have with wildlife and wild spaces.”

    The leaders of the Trust, Lesley Boggs and her husband Dr. J. W. “Tico” McNutt, understand the attraction of soccer and have for years used their initiative Coaches for Conservation as their primary social development program. C4C links soccer skills to animals and their behaviors – and the other way around – to advance soccer skills, empathy for and sensitivity to animals, and a positive outlook about the future. We came here to help plan and direct C4C’s annual soccer camp and to support its multiple goals.

    We worked closely during our 10 days’ stay with Lesley; Peter Dow, BPCT’s Head of Education; and 10 aspiring coaches from the Shorobe village Wild Dog Football Club. Our first days ‘in the bush’ were spent learning about large predators and their environments from several experts, planning the soccer curriculum, and training the Shorobe coaches. We also met the various ‘spirit coaches’ and ‘conservation coaches’ who would partner with us to inspire the school children from Maun to improve their soccer skills and commit themselves to protecting the large predators and their habitats in Botswana.

    After our days of learning and team-building, we returned to Maun. On Sunday the 26th, we prepared all our gear and set up the stadium at the Maun Sports Complex – a wonderful, almost new facility with a full size artificial field surrounded by a running track.

    Monday the 27th was a big day. Lesley and Tico and several local dignitaries opened the new Conservation Education Centre and, an hour later, came to the stadium to welcome about 600 P6290107children to the annual soccer camp. As the day went by, the students rotated through stations; the stations were paired up to highlight the predators and analogous soccer skills. For example, to highlight the cheetah, the conservation coaches taught the children about the cheetah’s speed, stealth, smarts, and self-reliance. Then when the children went to the cheetah soccer station, they concentrated on clever dribbling skills and running fast with the ball.

    Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday were devoted to the predator – soccer skills’ rotation, through the 12 stations. Then on Thursday we organized a huge, day-long tournament, during which each school group played four games against other schools – boys against boys and girls against girls. We marked out six small fields on the stadium’s full size field; the games were 7 v 7, with frequent, rapid substitutions: a fantastic end to the week.

    All day long we watched spirited games, heard the various schools’ chants, and heard, too, on the PA system, the slogan of the BPCT, between games and at mid-day break:

    “Respect Yourself, Respect Each Other, Respect the Environment!”

    Our thanks to Lesley and Tico for their vision and energy, and to all the conservation, spirit, and soccer coaches for their hard work, friendship, and dedication to advancing soccer and care of our environment.

  • Working with Coaching 4 Conservation in Botswana

    June 24th from Sophie, Brian, Dean and Gibbo in Maun, Botswana.

    We have arrived in Maun, Botswana and have begun working with Coaching For Conservation (C4C) which falls under the umbrella of the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust (BCPT).  I say “working”, because after a quick tour
    of the facilities in Maun which include a biology lab, their offices, and the
    municipal sports stadium we jumped in some 4×4 vehicles and headed up to HQ at
    their research base.  We were joined at camp with 30 other individuals who will be working with us to run a soccer and educational camp for C4C next week which will reach approximately 700 youths in the Maun region.

    Being at camp is much as you would expect, except that now we are adults and the surrounding areas are visited by wild lions, elephants, impala, leopard,cheetahs, and other animals.  You can, quite literally, be eaten alive if you stray from the camp, especially after dark.  Each night we hear the calls of hyenas and lions in close proximity
    while elephants tramp through the camp and eat the acacia trees surrounding our
    tents and cabins.

    Our daily schedule is a combination of information sessions

    Learning from C4C in the classroom

    and game-drives so that we can see first-hand the information we are learning
    during the sessions.  The purpose of all
    this is to have a well-informed staff who appreciates and has a strong desire
    to preserve/conserve the environment and its habitants.  Those of us from Coaches Across Continents,
    the local soccer coaches, the educators who are serving as conservation coaches during the camp, and the support staff include professional guides are all participating in the educational camp week.  Already we have had lectures on wild dogs, hyenas, lions, and cheetahs.  On our game drives we have seen a leopard eating a baby zebra, a cheetah mother and her cub, a pair of male lions, as well as many elephants, giraffes, wildebeests, impala, zebras, kudu, various birds, and Gibbo’s favorite, the honey badger.

    It's not quite Wembley.

    With the end of each educational session we play an informal pick-up game on the savannah which is watched with a combination we are sure of alarm and amusement by the wild herd animals.  Hopefully they won’t ever want to get too involved.

    Next week we will begin transferring our
    knowledge and love of environmental conservationism by hosting a camp for 22 local schools.  They will learn about six animals or groups of animals (lions, hyenas, wild dogs, leopards, cheetahs, and herd animals) over the course of twelve stations which include soccer-based lessons to help engage and reinforce the messages.  We expect that it will be a great week that will help to change attitudes and behaviors about conservationism in Maun and Botswana.

  • Goal 1: Dates announced with the Botswana Predator Conservation Trust

    February 25th, 2011.

    Following a successful pilot program with Coaching for Conservation (C4C) in 2010, Coaches across Continents are delighted to announce a full Hat-Trick Initiative partnership for 2011.

    Coaching for Conservation (C4C) strives to conserve Botswana’s natural resources by using sport to engender self-respect and inspire a generation of kids who care.

    Our core values “Respect Yourself, Respect Each Other, and Respect Your Environment” aim to help children build self-esteem, engage in constructive social exchange and develop an awareness and sensitivity to the environment they live and play in.

    Coaches across Continents will provide international coaches and mentors to build skills and provide young people with a positive outlook on life and the future. This includes teaching young adult Batswana coaching skills and techniques, as well as the importance of health, for them to become mentors for young people in their communities.

    “We first met with Lesley at the Beyond Sport Awards 2009 and we were able to provide Gibbo to help with their program in 2010.  C4C is a global leader in using sport for conservation and we are looking forward to learning from their year round sustainable program while developing local coaches and leaders who can deliver the C4C curriculum to local schools and teams.  It is an exciting partnership scheduled for June 12th-26th 2011.” Dr Andy Old, Coach Advisory Board.

    Coaches Paul, Brian, Sarah and Sophie will share our ideas with C4C during their staff training and summer camp.