• Full Circle – 6 Years Later

    August 17th. 2018. Coaches Across Continents CEO, Brian Suskiewicz, writes about his time On-Field with ISF Cambodia working with some incredible participants and people.

    This past week marked a new phase in the CAC/ISF partnership.  At the end of two consecutive Hat-Trick Initiatives (Chance to Choice and ASK for Choice), CAC is now focused almost exclusively on the Process Consultancy Strategic Resources that we can provide to such a distinguished partner. Meanwhile, On-Field the ISF coaches ran the coaching education course using a combination of CAC curriculum and ISF-developed games alongside CAC’s Self-Directed Learning methodology to create Education Outside the Classroom.  Seeing the staff of ISF taking full control of the On-Field training for over 100 local coaches showed this partnership had reached a new level. Already the ISF team are planning another On-Field coaching education at the end of this month in the provinces for coaches in rural communities.

    Working for the past two weeks both prior, during, and after the week of On-Field training was myself, Chief Executive Strategist Brian Suskiewicz.  In addition to observing and mentoring the ISF coaches On-Field, strategic meetings were held with key staff, school administration, the ISF country program manager Vicheka Chourp, ISF trustee Leo Brogan, and other ISF supporters one of which flew in for meetings from Hong Kong.  Key topics that our process consultancy covered was developing their soccer program M&E, and then how to use that information to better tell the impact their soccer program is having.  This includes their work with 4,000+ children in Phnom Penh creating Education Outside the Classroom, as well as their exemplary work with all-abilities children that earned them a 2018 Beyond Sport Award shortlist (winner announced September 12 in NYC).   We also mapped out ways to continue working together through potential joint-funding opportunities, which will combine the expertise of both organizations.  And finally we discussed internal improvements using our Workplace platform to inform our partners about webinars, monthly UN SDG curriculum, child and women’s rights policy creation, UN Global Days, Youth Leadership Courses like our MJYL program, and more.  These are all a part of our 28 year-round strategic resources that CAC uses to help our partners develop the organizational development and individual professional development in order to best impact their communities.

    Finally, it was a great personal experience for me.  Six years ago ISF initiated a conversation with me and CAC and our partnership began. In these years we have seen the ISF soccer program grow into an initiative that magnifies their work in their two schools, with their soccer program creating Education Outside the Classroom.  The ISF Soccer program also hosts domestic and international soccer events including the Ian Thompson Memorial Boys Tournament, the Goldman Sachs Girls Tournament, and the All-Abilities tournament each year, as well as the impact they are having on hundreds of local coaches and thousands of children annually.

    Fortunately, we will see each other again soon in New York City on September 12th, when the Beyond Sport Award Winners are announced.   Fingers crossed for ISF and all our six partners (plus ourselves) who were shortlisted!

  • Back To Where It All Began

    October 2nd 2017. Self-Directed Learning coach Mark Gabriel reflects on a return to Cambodia after a year with CAC.

    Heading to Cambodia’s capital for my next On-Field assignment was different than previous assignments. Right about the same time last year, I was heading to Phnom Penh for my first ever CAC assignment with Indochina Starfish. My first time returning to a place and starting the week with, “Good to see you again!” rather than, “Nice to meet you.” My first time leading with an inside joke, or a hug, or a familiar smile. My first time returning to my favorite juice stand, or ordering my favorite local cuisine (in this case, tarantulas). You get the idea — and let me tell you, it felt good. More so than any of that, it felt good because it was my first chance to personally see the change that accumulates over a year during a CAC partnership. Throughout the first two weeks, I was not disappointed. Not only did I immediately see stark differences between this year and last amongst returning participants, but I witnessed immense growth from day-to-day. I looked forward to the opportunity to work alongside three of these coaches for our final week to go even deeper.

    I knew Panha, Ranya, and Nara from before, as all three were Community Impact Coaches the previous year. As coaches, they had grown tremendously. Now, it was Emily and I’s challenge to continue their development. We chose to have them run the program. Part of this was because we saw it as a great opportunity to take the “next step”… and part of it because the participants did not speak English and we had no translator…

    Thanks to their previous experiences through the CIC Initiative, they were well prepared to lead a program on their own. Their ability to build a message throughout the week, to lead discussions after the trainings, to foresee problems and plan to avoid them, and to smoothly co-exist and run a training as a team was sublime. Each day, Emily and I were proud but yet relentless. We gave them daily challenges, constant feedback, questioning the why behind their decisions, and they always rose to the occasion. They began to do the same to themselves and began to not only visualize the game unfolding, but the message unfolding — seeing both its impact in that moment and in five years’ time.

    My highlight of the week was seeing each M’lop Tapang staff member, at different times, have an “Aha!” moment. The moment that it all comes together, that Football for Social Impact and Self-Directed Learning begin to mean something. To see that moment passed from Cambodians to Cambodians… now that is a beautiful thing.

  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy

    September 4th 2017. Coaches Across Continents Global Citizen and Michael Johnson Young Leader Ryan Jones writes about week 2 with the fantastic IndoChina Starfish Foundation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

    I have now completed my second week being a Global Citizen with CAC in Phnom Penh with ISF (Indochina Starfish Foundation) coaches and it has been another great week. The ISF coaches took a lot of ownership this week in terms of delivery and planning on who delivers what game. They also directed the CAC team to deliver too as the delivery was split with half the games being run by ISF and the other half being run by CAC. It was great to see so many excellent coaches deliver the social impact games with so much fun and relevance to a range of social issues.

    The last couple of weeks has had a real positive impact on me and I have really valued the ‘just get on with it’ attitude they have in Cambodia. People are genuinely happy with what they have, appreciating the people and opportunities they have around them. The coaches we have been working with have been great at solving problems and have shown this through adapting games and sessions for a range of participants of various ages and abilities.

    Nara, who is one of the lead ISF coaches, on numerous occasions quoted “Don’t worry, be happy” which is a quote that I love and something I will always remember from my trip to Cambodia as whatever your circumstances are, you should always be happy and approach all situations in a positive manner.

    One other highlight that has stood out was on Thursday evening at the farewell dinner in Phnom Penh for the ISF coaches. Jaime spoke very passionately about the impact CAC and the week’s training has had. He said that he works with 5 boys on a separate programme and 3 of them are affected by HIV. They all gained a greater understanding of the social messages and had great fun playing the games. They also started to speak more openly about HIV as well as their own experiences. It is really touching when you hear these stories and the great impact that the CAC curriculum have on the coaches and young people they reach.

    We are moving on to Sihanoukville to train a new group of leaders. I am very excited to be working with a new group of coaches.

  • 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.

  • ISF’s New Sport Court

    March 17th 2017. We are delighted to congratulate our long-term Cambodian partner Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) on their new Sport Court thanks to Connor Sport Court and Beyond Sport (with a recommendation from CAC)!

    The brand new futsal court was installed at their new football facility outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It will be used by ISF to continue to empower disadvantaged children in the community through sport and education. They celebrated the new court by hosting a ribbon-cutting opening ceremony and football competition with more than 600 children in the U-14 and U-10 age categories. They also included an inspiring demonstration with vision-impaired youth playing futsal with special “chirping” footballs.

    Coaches Across Continents has partnered with ISF to help them develop their capacity for educating youth through sport for 4 years including filming our documentary from there in 2015. It is always incredibly special to see our partners grow and better offer high quality programs for their community. We can’t wait to see the new court in person when we return to Phnom Penh in August this year.

    This is the second Connor Sport Court we have helped our partners receive and build following the court in Kigoma, Tanzania. Thanks to Connor Sport Court for their ongoing commitment to building the capacity of organizations involved in sport for social change.

    Thanks to Ryan Burke from Sport Court for the photos

     

  • Help Celebrate An Unsung CAC Hero

    October 31st 2016. If a picture is worth a thousand words then how many words is a video worth? For CAC the value of a video is immeasurable. It is a universal problem for non-profit organizations all over the world- how do you tell the story of your work simply. Without question the best way, without actually taking people directly to our programs, is through video. That is why the importance of CAC resident videographer Kevin O’Donovan can’t be underestimated. Kevin (or OD as he is commonly referred) brings CAC to life through his inspirational vision and ability. Every year OD leaves his regular life for 2 weeks and traipses to whichever far-flung location CAC request his presence. In the past this has meant charter planes in Kenya, 10 hour bus journeys to rural Uganda, bumpy roads in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and filming in some of the most disadvantaged areas of India and Cambodia. The destination of the CAC films in 2016 has still to be revealed…

    Now we are delighted to say that OD has been recognized for his incredible work by the Charity Film Awards who have nominated his film about our ASK for Choice initiative. BUT, we need your help to ensure he is rewarded further! We NEED you to go online and vote for this film to win the award! Click here to vote. With your help we can fully celebrate an unsung hero of CAC’s success.

    Watch the nominated video below. For more of OD’s work please go to our videos page.