• The Great Chamwino

    December 12, 2014. Volunteer Coach from Germany, Frederick Schwarzmaier, joins fellow countryman Markus Bensch as well as Kelly Conheeney in Tanzania. He writes about his first experience On-Field with CAC in Chamwino. 

    Before any coaching session could start on Monday morning, we visited the District Executive Director of Chamwino, a highly respected woman. After introducing ourselves, Markus took a few minutes to talk about Coaches Across Continents as an organization and our approach in this community. As expected, she gave her consent for the program and we headed towards the local soccer pitch on motorbike-taxis with great anticipation and a box of new footballs. At arrival, reality quickly tempered us as only eight coaches showed up. Nico, the Community Impact Coach of Chamwino and an amazing go-to person, confirmed that eight would be our total number for the day. Given the low number of participants, we decided to play a fun game of soccer and start with the program on Tuesday. Afterwards, we went to meet the Chairman of Chamwino in order to introduce ourselves and explain what we are going to do in the next few days in his district. For us, this meeting was very worthwhile because the Chairman introduced us to the history of Chamwino as well as Tanzania, including a proudly presented story about the nation’s first president, Julius Nyerere, who visited Chamwino on several occasions. In order to make it a successful day over all, we coached over 40 girls from a local secondary school several CAC games including Ronaldo Skills for Life, Mingle Mingle and Pairs Soccer. The girls were visibly proud that their male fellow pupils were all along gazing at them while practicing their new soccer skills.

    Gratefully, on Tuesday twelve coaches showed up, hence, we decided to begin the program. Although, the number of participants was low, we had a very intense but fun week. As there were some returning coaches from previous years, they occasionally stepped in to teach their new peers certain games or moves on their own. This also showed us the impact of our program in this community on former participants. Besides, we set the focus on Child Rights and Gender Equality as this was requested by the community and regarded as one of their biggest current challenges. This issue especially arose when we were having a discussion about the rights of a child, as this is done within every CAC program and every community. Nearly half of the participants justified hitting their pupils or other children if they weren’t paying attention in class. An additional issue was the local coaches’ cheating manner. It took several attempts to announce fairly played winners in many of the conflict games, as it seemed that they cheat out of instinct. I felt as though this challenge was successfully tackled by us in a fun learning environment. Especially for me as a newbie at CAC, these circumstances made me contemplate the local culture. I tried to slip into the coaches’ shoes in the hope that I would find the root cause to their behavior. My explanation – you could also name it presumption as I do not have a scientific proof of it – for it is that they treat their children the same way as they were treated when they were young. Having this in mind while during our program in Chamwino, I was putting myself under too much pressure in order to transform the whole community into a better place and flood it with my ideas for improvement. I quickly realized that this approach is not working out and I should rather ask questions instead of giving possible answers as the CAC curriculum suggests. This method simply proofed to me the power and sustainability of the CAC approach. Combined with the uniting power of football, this program is even more amazing than I could have ever imagined before experiencing it myself. Besides, it is not only the local coaches but also me who are learning a lot.

    On Thursday, the local coaches taught the children the CAC games they learned this week. This was a great success as one could witness the drive and joy the coaches spread during their short and individual sessions with the kids. Their attitude created a setting where children could learn, laugh, play and fail without being afraid of consequences, no matter if girl or boy. Solely, one could criticize their urge to solve little problems for the children instead of letting them gain some problem solving experience themselves, e.g. fixing the human circle when playing Circle of Friends. Overall, it was fantastic seeing them teaching the kids.

    On Friday, after the last session of the program, we handed over the certificates to each participant that turned out to be more like a closing ceremony than a simple duty. Before we handed out the certificates, a representative of the local Education Office was the guest of honor and delivered a speech about the importance of implementing the CAC games in the learning curriculum of each school. After the ceremony, the participants surprised each of us with a shirt of Tanzania’s national soccer team – a great ending of a tiring but joyful week. Shortly afterwards, under pouring rain, we headed to Dodoma City to prepare for the upcoming program.

    To put it in a nutshell, although struggling at the beginning of the week to get a sufficient number of local coaches for this year’s program in Chamwino, the week turned out to be a great success for all of us. We are confident we have made a sustainable impact on Chamwino’s community.



  • Chamwino District and CAC team up one more time.

    October 25, 2013. In celebration of one of CACs volunteer’s birthday on October 14th, team leader, Sophie Legros, Community impact coach Nico Achimpota, Danielle Foxhoven and birthday girl Becca Meierbachtol, started their program in Chamwino, Tanzania. They were greeted, surprisingly on “European time” (which means the coaches arrived on time to the field) by over 40 coaches, teachers and community leaders who were eager to start the program.
    The program started Monday morning and ended Thursday afternoon. Despite there being national and religious holidays on two of those days, the attendance stayed strong and even increased throughout the week. Our coaches trained four hours each morning going through 8-10 games a day!
    In the evenings they coached a U12 girls group from the Chamwino community. Eight of the girls in the group had recently returned from the national tournament, Copa Coca Cola. It was a thrill for our coaches to pass on the best of their coaching skills to give the girls encouragement to be the best soccer players and people they could be.
    The end of the week came with great anticipation for our CAC coaches and the coaches in the program. After 16 hours of training in four days in the heat they were exhausted from all of the hard work, but they were more eager to return to their schools and teams to implement the new games and social messaages they learned. The same as the week in Njombe, the program finished with a 30 minute match between coaches in the program. It ended in a nail biting penalty shootout with team Simba taking the cup! A dance party, of course, ensued after the game was won!
    Another successful week for CAC and Tanzanian partners! We look forward to another year with our Tanzanian groups!
  • Visiting Nico’s Stomping Grounds – Chamwino, Tanzania

    November 29th, 2012: Our CAC team could sense the excitement flowing from Nico as we approached Chamwino after a long bus ride from Geita. Arriving in Dodoma, immediately we were greeted by the hustle in the streets and the constant activity in the capital city of Tanzania. Chamwino is a small rural town located about 30 km outside Dodoma and it was the setting for our third Coaches Across Continents program this year. Chamwino is also the town where Nico spends time working with the local teachers teaching sport for development as well as with his girls team who are improving very quickly.  Last year a team of CAC coaches began the hat trick initiative in Chamwino while working with the Capital Teachers college to educate teachers and coaches on using football for change as well as with a young female team who were eager to acquire new football and life skills.

    In Chamwino. Nico once again showed how instrumental he is in the partnership with CAC as he ensured that before starting any program on the field that the CAC team would meet and greet a plethora of government officials, sports personnel and education officers. It felt redundant to repeat over again our individual backgrounds highlighting the role of football in each of our lives, however, with each reaction from the listener it became apparent that our stories were shaping the perspective for many in regards to females in sport as well as the importance of education and sport.

    For five days the CAC team delivered a program to local teachers, all of which had shown great interest in using sport to engage the youth. The coaches were very receptive of the program, often asking questions about the games, the skills taught and the relevance to their communities. CAC taught many of the typical first year games covering various themes and mixed in a handful of GOAL games that speak to issues such as financial literacy, communication skills, self-esteem and setting goals.

    The last day CAC challenged the teachers to design their own games addressing issues relevant to their communities. The games were dynamic and each reflected pieces of GOAL games, however, with an added from the local teachers. For example, one group designed a game on environmental awareness and used the Sawa’s Rights game as the skeleton but adapted it to better suit the needs of the topic and the audience. Another group chose to focus on ways to earn money while the last two taught focused on drug abuse and malaria prevention. Some of the coaches also had the opportunity to begin teaching the games in the afternoon when CAC trained a team of young female footballers who were eager to develop new skills and to train with a group of foreign female coaches.

    Nico has shown again the importance of a program being embedded in the community. The CAC program was not just presented to the teachers and youth in the on the field program but also to the majority of education and sports officials who are working in both Dodoma and Chamwino. Making these connections within the community is fundamental to the sustainability of the program and judging by the reactions of many of the officials, there is an overall strong sense of appreciation for the work that CAC is doing and understanding that the knowledge given should be spread to more teachers, coaches and youth.