• 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.


    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…

  • Unanticipated Impact: Brazil

    November 13, 2014. After six years of Hat-Trick Initiatives and monitoring and evaluating everything that we do On- and Off-Field, we have a fairly good idea of what to expect in terms of growth from our implementing community partners and the coaches who attend our trainings. But it gets really fun when we experience what we internally call “Unanticipated Impacts.” These are outcomes due to our Hat-Trick Initiative that could not be predicted as we started our partnerships – and oftentimes are a great example of what can be achieved using sport for social impact. A great case in point is what is currently happening in Brazil because of our partnership with ACER.

    This year marks the second year of our partnership with ACER in Eldorado, Diadema, one of the favela communities that makes up the periphery of São Paulo. When we began with them in July, 2013, neither ACER nor CAC knew that in just 18 short months the CAC curriculum and ACER coaches would be working within Fundação CASA, also known in English as the Youth Offenders Institute. In layman’s terms, it is the prison system for adolescents. They can be remanded for up to 45 days, and if convicted prior to their 18th birthday they can serve up to three years in these maximum-security facilities.

    A series of events made this possible. Following our first On-Field training, one ACER coordinator named Luiz César Madureira accepted a full-time position within Fundação CASA. Luiz César did so well in his new post that his superiors were duly impressed. This led to a site visit that included the Fundação CASA administration, CAC Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz, former Brazilian national team player and World Cup Champion (1970) Zé Maria, ACER founder Jonathan Hannay, and the local television cameras.

    After this successful visit, ACER and Fundação CASA continued their dialogue. What transpired from October 20-24 is a major step forward for all parties. A partnership now exists between the Physical Education and Sport Management (GEFESP), the School of Education and Professional Training (EFCP) of CASA, and ACER.  Davi Alexander and other ACER coaches just completed a week-long training for 20 physical education teachers who work in five of the remand centers. They reach approximately 1,000 of the highest risk youth in Brazil. These teachers are receiving CAC games, translated into Portuguese, as well as a specialized monitoring and evaluation program on their in-house computer tracking system. For the next 45-day cycle (the maximum that any youth is allowed to be remanded without a judicial decision), these 20 teachers will implement the CAC curriculum, taught by Davi and others from ACER. We are thrilled to have played a part helping ACER reach sustainability through the skills of teaching other educators the power of sport for social impact.

    If this partnership continues to be successful, it may grow to incorporate and impact the estimated 8,000-10,000 youth who are in the system at any one time, some for as long as three years. It is this sort of impact that Coaches Across Continents expects when we start any partnership – we just don’t know exactly how it may manifest. Just 18 months ago we began our three-year journey with ACER. And now they are having a tangible impact on both the youths of Diadema where they have worked tirelessly for the past 20+ years, but also on the highest at-risk adolescents throughout São Paulo. Potentially over the next 18 months this could grow to include the entirety of the state as well as other parts of Brazil. The true power of sport lies in the impact – both the foreseen and the unanticipated.

    All photo credits: Eliel Nascimento, Fundação CASA.  Faces have been pixelated for privacy and security reasons.

    Youths within the system alongside Zé Maria (2nd from left) and others: Photo credit Eliel Nascimento, Fundação CASA

    Brian enjoying his time working with Fundação CASA and Zé Maria! Photo credit Eliel Nascimento, Fundação CASA.