March 28th, 2018. Self-Directed Learning Educator, Pedro Perez, writes about his experience working with Fundación Paso Del Norte in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.
Imagine you’re playing a game where the purpose is create a strong competition between groups and see how they react. Suddenly and spontaneously the participants decide that instead competing they will start to work all together to accomplish the goal. Well, this is exactly what happened during our week in Juarez.
This shocked me. It was surprising that this kind of situation calls our attention and not the other way around, right? I tried to find an explanation for this phenomenon. The word resilience came to my mind.
Over the years Ciudad Juarez has been a host city of drug trafficking, violence and insecurity. Faced with this situation, people from Juarez – as it happened during the game – have created a system where they are taking care of each other, and where cooperation is more important than competition. They could choose to believe that what once surrounded them was the model they had to follow, but no, they have chosen to create a reality where the collective good is above the individual.
For me that shows resilience. The people of Juarez after years suffering from an environment full of violence came out strengthened from that period, with the creation of a collective consciousness above the average. Admirable without a doubt!
After that week working with Fundación Paso del Norte, and the teachers that are part of their program “Juarez en Acción”, I had this idea in my mind….“Do you know the feeling of arriving at a place, that turns out to be completely different from what you expected? Well, that’s Ciudad Juarez.”
Post-Disaster Sustainable Legacies: the AFC & CAC
March 25, 2018. Kathmandu and Sindhupalchok, Nepal. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA), and Coaches Across Continents joined forces this past weekend for three important events. There was a school dedication ceremony in Sindhupalchok, Nepal signifying the completion and handover of the AFC school rebuilding project, as well as a coaching education workshop on sport for social impact, followed by a clinic for Nepali street children.
As the Official Social Responsibility Partner of the AFC, Coaches Across Continents (CAC) is working with ANFA grassroots coaches in Nepal, creating Education Outside the Classroom. Through football, we create learning opportunities to enable the social development of players on key topics like Health & Wellness, the importance of Education, Child Rights, communication and confidence, and teamwork.
Thirty-four coaches worked with Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz on Friday learning our award-winning methodology and curriculum. We then held our first joint clinic with social development as the primary focus, working with over 50 street children from the organization Shelter. Incidentally, a team from Shelter will be representing Nepal in Russia this summer at the Street Child World Cup.
Saturday at the Shree Setidevi School, near Chautara, Sindhupalchok, Nepal was the official school dedication and handover ceremony. The original school building was completely decimated by the 2015 earthquake. The new school is now one of the nicest in the entire country. Standing two stories tall, it houses 18 classrooms, a central courtyard, washrooms, offices, and a water filtration system that will serve the entire community as well as the 600+ students who will attend the school.
Key dignitaries in attendance throughout the weekend included AFC Executive Committee member and Chairman of Social Responsibility Ahmed Eid (Saudi Arabia), ANFA President Narendra Shrestha (Nepal), AFC Head of Social Responsibility Dr. Annathurai Ranganathan (Malaysia), CAC Chief Executive Strategist Brian Suskiewicz (USA / Nicaragua), as well as other local dignitaries.
As a proud partner of the AFC, Coaches Across Continents will continue to support the Asian Football Confederation in Creating Legacies throughout their 47 Member Associations. Other continuing post-disaster Legacy Programs include our partnership in Tacloban, the Philippines, as the community continues to develop following Typhoon Yolanda.
Empanadas, Mi Amor
March 20th, 2018. On-Field SDL Educator, Ashlyn Hardie, writes about her month in the state of Sonora, Mexico with the Secretary of Education and FESAC, working alongside the teachers in Hermosillo, Obregon, and Nogales.
What an interesting time to travel, as a US Citizen, into Mexico to work with the Secretary of Education. In each of the three weeks we spent working together on-field, one of the first issues that teachers referenced was the border with the United States, and the dangers and discrimination their youth feel because of the current political climate and immigration policy debates.
In each week participants introduced, created, and adapted games about the border situation and “The Wall of Trump”. Each game with a similar message, and a sadly negative one at that. For me, an American facilitator, this conversation had to be carefully managed. As a group we each reflected about these issues and how it is making young kids feel, the dangers it presents if we don’t educate them, etc. But as for right now, the people are so offended, that it is almost impossible for them to focus on the remaining possibilities. This however, we came to realize as the most important part! In our last week in Nogales, a border town split between the United States and Mexico, the group of teachers had an incredible conversation on the importance of not teaching kids to accept defeat in this situation, but to focus on the ways of legal immigration. Together we discussed educational opportunities, possibilities through sporting success, relationship, work visas, etc. Most importantly, we discussed the powerful role of teachers in not breading hatred from both sides, but educating on possibilities.
My hope is that the people of Mexico continue to be welcoming to US Citizens, that they do not return the rejection they feel, and that they remain positive and bigger people. My greatest hope is that the American people also continue to/begin educating our youth, our future, on the power of inclusion, respect for others, and handling our business respectfully and tastefully.
If illegal immigration is an issue, okay…. lets fix it. But in the process, let us not offend entire nations of people, who do nothing but welcome us with open arms. For the last 3 weeks the people of Sonora, Mexico welcomed me into their lives, their homes, and their families. They kept me full of tacos, coyotas, carne asada, advocato and galletas. More importantly, these people made me feel welcomed, safe, and happy – in a place where I did not speak the language and entered from a nation of controversy. There are incredibly hard working, good hearted, well informed leaders in the group of teachers from Hermosillo, Obregon, and Nogales, Mexico. They are easily some of the most incredible and professional participants I have ever had the privilege of working with. They smiled at my Spanglish, danced and laughed, brought lots of food, and most importantly – made it clear that they were making an incredible impact in the lives of their children.
I hope we begin to live in a world where we can look out for our own people, while still showing respect, appreciation, and regard for others. I hope that we go back to continuing progress towards inviting diversity, social inclusion, and love for all people. And lastly, I hope that everyone who reads this blog gets the chance to eat an authentic Mexican Empanada in his or her lifetime. If not, I can confidently say, you do not know what delicious is! And on that note, it is now time for me to officially begin my mission to learn to speak Spanish…. Adios Amigos!
P.S. VIVA MEXICO!
FIRST BLOG OF 2018: CONAN IN HAITI
February 3rd, 2018. First-Time on-field as new CAC staff, Pedro, writes about his experience working with GOALS Haiti during the ASK for Choice program in Leogane.
Before starting my first trip as staff member of CAC i didn’t know anything about my destination: Haiti. It’s hard to hear from Haiti being in Spain -after visit MUPANAH one can imagine the reason-so i didn’t know what I was going to find.
After a quick pass through Port au Prince we arrived in Leogane for work during the week with our partner in the city, GOALS Haiti.
Once in Haiti, and Leogane in particular, this place stopped being a stranger to me. I learned, in only five days and a half, about the importance of this city in the history of the country.
Some examples, it was in Leogane where the taino queen Anacaona raised up against the abuses of the Spanish invaders. Since then she represents the courage of the Haitian woman and her story has been immortalized in books, songs and is represented in a large statue that presides over the main square of Leogane.
Leogane is one of the sport’s capitols in the country. It is home to five major league sports teams -remember that it’s a city with 90.000 population-. And it’s also important because music festivals and vodou religion too (did you know vodou is a religion? I didn’t either!).
At the same time, I had the opportunity to visit the communities where GOALS Haiti is working. It was really impressive to see the large number of children participating in the sessions and how the community respected these moments. I have seen different trainings like this in many other countries and believe me, it’s not easy to get this picture.
Why am I telling all this? Because as the TV show “Conan in Haiti” -he’s in the country on the same days that we are – we want people to know that Haiti of course it’s not always the country it is portrayed to be – and you will know from the first moment you set foot there.
Reducing Teen Pregnancy through Soccer
On December 22nd, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Nicholaus Achimpota, from Tanzania writes about running a CAC program in Kigoma, alone. Nico is pictured above from another training he helped run in Pemba, Zanzibar.
My name is Nicholaus Achimpota. I have a Bachelor of Sports Science and Management at Ndejje University in Uganda. I have worked with CAC since 2008. In the last 10 years I have worked with the government as a sports officer in Kigoma, and for 3 years as the Chamwino district update.
My job is training and monitoring the sports teachers, conducting workshops and seminars to club leaders, acting as the assistant registrar of the sports association and clubs planning yearly sports programs in my district. I work with 120 primary schools and 28 secondary schools.
This week it was my first time to run the CAC program alone. It was not easy to believe that CAC would trust me to run the program in country, completely alone, without the leader from CAC staff – but they did!
I was very happy to have this opportunity and I want to say thank you to all of the CAC staff for giving me this work. This means that I opened the door for other CAC members to work in their communities without the direct on-field overseeing of CAC.
In the first day the participants didn’t believe what happened. During the introduction for the Sports Officer, Mr. Abdul, everyone was surprised that the program was being ran by me (Nicholaus) because the last year was ran by CAC’s Emily from America.
At the end of the first day one of the coaches, Anastasia Busumabi, came to me and she said “Coach Nico, we understood the way you taught and how to use soccer to teach social issues. Because of the language barriers, we have feared to ask questions in previous years.” Another teacher Singo said “By bringing you here, it means even us we can do the same as you”. Which is the purpose of the Community Impact Coach program – to empower coaches to be leaders and role models for other coaches in their communities.
The five-day program was based on how to use CAC games to prevent social issues specifically teenage pregnancy. So, we emphasized the games for conflict prevention, skills for life, HIV and gender equality.
The participants impressed me, and motivated me to do all the best to make sure they understood how to use soccer to teach social issues to the community.
It was very fun after four years to be back again to Kigoma and enjoy the nice food that they had to offer. Migebuka is the type of fish available at Lake Tanganyika and was my favorite during my stay. On Thursday afternoon I helped the teachers learn how to play Woodball.
To be honest it was a great experience for me to learn and share skills with teachers in my country. Moreover, I never forgot to sing with them the song “Amatosa” and different concentration games. Nothing is impossible under the sun. It is important that all communities benefit with the CAC saying “Smile and solve your problem”.
I am the first Community Impact Coach to run a program alone in Kigoma.
Many more will follow the way. Goodbye Kigoma.
Chala Bagundi! Tales from Hyderabad with Magic Bus
November 29th 2017. Global Citizen, Heather “Action” Jackson reflects on her week in Hyderabad, India with Magic Bus for the Coaches Across Continents program with SDL Charlie Crawford.
My journal is full of new words, phrases and slang I’ve learned here in India. A couple of my favorites come from our week with Magic Bus outside of Hyderabad. “Chala Bagundi” loosely translates to “Awesome!” Magic Bus, whose name derives from the “magic” that happens through the program and its use of sport as a catalyst for education, is Chala Bagundi, as was our time together.
In a retreat setting at the University of Forest Biodiversity in Dulapally village, we spent time on the (homemade) field, in the classroom and in the dorms in the evening. Once again, these youth mentors and coaches were so inspiring and impressive; many had traveled overnight by bus to be a part of this program, showed no signs of weariness and were ready from the start to laugh, sing, play and develop as leaders with CAC.
32 games over 3 days, including a focus on female empowerment and child rights. A favorite was a version of Scary Soccer the MB youth mentors developed using moves from Cricket, Kabaddi, and Handball. Creativity + Local Flavor = Chala Bagundi.
Routine sing alongs in the classroom, including songs about child rights, Magic Bus, India and of course, love. While we focused on having a voice on the field and taking that into life, these voices underscored the leaders’ sense of, and commitment to, community. Thank heavens they didn’t ask for a repeat solo from Charlie and I.
Playing Dam Sharats, also known as action movie charades in Hindi, with the whole crew. Sometimes it can be hard not to understand a word people are saying, but we can all understand the universal language of laughter. Suffice to say, you can only hope to get Titanic as your challenge.
Rock on Magic Bus. Stay Chala Bagundi!