My CAC Experience
When I was asked to join Coaches Charlie and Prateek to deliver the seminar in Cebu, not as a participant but as an assistant coach, I was so shocked but got very excited as well. I thought that this would really test whether I had learned from the seminar we just had.
I left Friday night: Tacloban-Ormoc 7pm-9:30pm, Ormoc-Cebu 12midnight-7am. I arrived at Cebu Carmen around 7am and rode another van to the main city. I got in the venue at 11am, and I was 1 hour late. In short, it was a long journey to get there, but like the quote says, “It’s better late than never”.
I had mixed emotions when I got to the venue. I was happy because there were a lot of participants, and at the same time, I was shocked because almost all the participants were older than me. Coach Charlie introduced me, and it felt good to be welcomed and introduced as one of the facilitating coaches and not as a participant. We then proceeded to the training. I just assisted them in the morning, but in the afternoon, Coach Charlie and Coach Prateek asked me to choose one drill to facilitate on my own. I got very nervous at first because I was coaching coaches that are older and positioned higher than me. But Coaches Charlie and Prateek helped me overcome those nerves. Truly, you will see how professionals they are, especially in delivering and interacting with different types of coaches. I coached the drill called Gazza Support System that focuses on different vices that can be acquired in the communities, like Alcohol Drinking, and two other drills – ‘Can Ballack see HIV?’ and ‘Ballack Goes to Goal’ – which both teaches about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.
Coaches Across Continents really helped me a lot as a coach. They gave me more ideas on how I can conduct my drills and sessions. I also got the chance to share my knowledge and experiences to others. Most importantly, the whole CAC experience gave me another perspective in football – that football is not just a game but could be also a tool to teach children social issues occurring in their community and help them easily understand even the most complicated issues. Football can be a way of molding little minds to be better people. And, as coaches, we can be instruments of change to these children and their communities. Overall, it’s really a great and fruitful experience, and I would never say no to other opportunities like this. As I am already working with FundLife as a Football for Life coach, I can definitely use this experience to improve my performance as a coach. CAC’s work can greatly support our work here in Tacloban.
Knowledge and Gratitude
August 10th, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Elvis Nshimba, writes about the experience Coaches Across Continents gave him to work on-field with CAC partner training4changeS.
Our two weeks in northern South Africa, in a village called Bennde Mutale which bordered Zimbabwe and Mozambique, were spent working with and creating impacts alongside community members and leaders. From there, we spent two wonderful weeks in Cape Town. The first week we played games with coaches, teachers and community members and through those games educated them on how to use sport for social impact. At the end of this week, the participants were able to coach and adapt games on their own!
My last week was the most beautiful! We worked with students in different schools, which allowed me as a teacher, to acquire another experience learning from others. We worked with the local coaches of training4changeS to strengthen their capacities to educate and create social change for their pupils through sport.
Because of this trip with Coaches Across Continents, I was able to see the ocean for the first time! It was a great pleasure! I enjoyed my stay in this part of the country, although it was extremely cold. Because of this opportunity to travel with CAC I was able to learn a lot, including realizing the differences between people. I would like to express my gratitude to Coaches Across Continents (CAC) for aligning me on this trip, and to my organization the Malaika Foundation (MALAIKA) for supporting me during my time working away.
Having No Plan, Is Planning
August 2, 2017. Global Citizen Nicole writes about her experience coaching and camping in Zimbabwe as CAC worked with World Parks, World Cup.
In South Africa, a common phrase you hear is, “We’ll make a plan”. Typically meaning the current situation isn’t going as originally planned and there is no clear solution at the moment. In the States, it’s relatable to creating a “plan B” or trying our very best to “go with the flow”.
The saying makes me laugh every time I hear it and I hope that I continue to use it when I get home. It makes everything seem OK and less urgent or threatening. In the grand scheme of things, that is true, things will probably work out.
Our trip to Zimbabwe from Bennde-Mutale, South Africa was definitely one of these situations. While it only takes about 3 hours to walk from SA to the village we were staying in Zim, it was an 8 to 9 hour journey by car, inclusive of a large dried up river bed where your tires easily get stuck in the sand, intense border patrol on both sides & bumpy unmarked roads where the memory of various trees – that all look identical to me – were our compass. Yet, it was never of any concern, we were in good hands with World Parks, World Cup – and well, we made a plan.
We arrived in Chishinya, Zimbabwe a little before dark, where the Moyo family welcomed us after our long journey. Chishinya isn’t on any map, at least that I’ve seen. And I wasn’t originally expecting to go to Zimbabwe when volunteering – or to be sleeping in a tent, camping under the Milky Way, building a fire each night to cook and stay warm, serving as a space to discuss religion, politics, relationships and all of the joys of life with my travel companions and the Moyo’s.
In the end, Zim was one of the more rewarding weeks of my time volunteering with CAC. It had the perfect mix of the “expected” pieces of the program – coaching, connecting with people and fun with the kid’s. With the unexpected elements of magic that come along with a true adventure. I live for a good adventure! We experienced elements of life in Zim that we otherwise wouldn’t have.
Mr. Moyo and his family were special; they were kind to us, naturally warm and loving, treating us like family from the moment we arrived. It’s a comfort you feel around certain people, an aura or energy they exude that can’t be faked. They were happy, loving people who opened their homes, for which I will be forever grateful.
One of my favorite memories is the hat that Mr. Moyo wore every day with “Nicole” stitched into the front. Maybe it was fate that we were to meet. And as he said when we hugged goodbye, “we will all meet one day in heaven”. Whether heaven exists for you, it’s a nice thought and the most realistic setting for our next meeting.
It is hard to say goodbye to people after you have become part of their everyday lives, even for only a week. And more so when knowing you won’t be following their Instagram account or sending iMessage photos of your daily life to them. It is unlikely that your worlds will cross again. Regardless, you still hope that they do and the reality is that you will think of them often for some time.
Most importantly, it felt that we made lasting connections in Zimbabwe, with coaches, teachers and community leaders who were engaged in the games & the social messages that were pertinent to their communities. The beauty of the CAC program is the focus on sustainability, providing the participants with the skills and resources to teach and adapt the games as needed in their local environment.
I look forward to checking back in on the programs that I volunteered with to see if the same people are involved and the progress that has been made over the next year. The work of CAC is powerful – both in the vision and execution. I am very proud of the time I spent volunteering and of the valuable things I learned. I have the utmost respect for those working in social impact. Thank you for letting me be a small piece of the team for a few weeks – I hope to be involved again soon!
The Drink of a Nation
April 13, 2017. Coaches Across Continents Process Consultant, Charlie Crawford writes about working with partners at Futbol Mas Paraguay.
The first thing to stand out throughout Asuncion is the fact that a significant portion of the population always carries with them a small cooler accompanied with cup and a flattened looking straw. For those of you that have not had the pleasure, Terere in Paraguay could be considered a form of cold tea and more significantly, an icon and integral aspect of their way of life. In the cup is the supply of mate (crumbled leaves/botanical matter that I did not examine very thoroughly) which, when filled with the ice-water from the cooler and is filtered through the special straw, becomes far more than a refreshing drink.
Paraguay is hot. As one of this week’s participants told it, “The Devil once came to Asuncion, started to sweat, and has not been back since.” Terere is undoubtedly the principle solution to this heat. This ritual helps and continues to build a community of trust centered around a shared cup. And as with any social construct, there are rules and etiquettes to follow this ritual sharing of Terere. The first thing I learned is that the owner of the cooler is the one to pack the cup, and that there are preferred methods to this packing. Once prepared, it’s up to the youngest member of the group to fill the single cup, pass it to the most senior, refill the cup and continue passing it around. You will continue to be offered a fresh cup until you say “gracias”, signifying your satisfaction. After making the dramatic mistake once, I was informed of the most important rule, ‘don’t move the straw’. The depth, position, and angle of this flattened straw are part of the preferred experience of the owner and are not things to adjust as you will it.
As much as I wanted to dedicate an entire blog to this cultural drink, there is no possible way to leave this week without focusing on how incredible a program this was. After experiencing Futbol Mas in Lima the previous week, expectations were reasonably high for F+’s Paraguay branch. Participants here ranged from specialists in government organizations, special needs teachers, competitive coaches, competitive players, volunteers, students and more. None had ever experienced a training of this sort before and their earnest attitude, eagerness to learn, and belief in progress through problem solving were second to none. While most of the trainings were held on the National Secretary of Sport’s official compound, two of our days were spent in the local slum of Chicarita. This area is closer to the river than the rest of the city and, as such, suffers severe flooding on a regular basis. Unauthorized housing packs the area and social stigma closes it off from the rest of the world.
Learning that the vast majority of our participants had never even set foot in this part of their city was not terribly surprising. What was a bit of a surprise, were the attitudes that made clear shifts by the end of the week. It would be accurate to say that there was a feeling of being uncomfortable during the first trip into Chicarita. This atmosphere not only dissipated but was replaced by an opposite eagerness to engage with this world even more. By holding the training within this community, the barrier of prejudice that literally circled this neighborhood was crossed, discussed, and ultimately considered unnecessary by the participants.
The ritual of Terere remains strong. The ritual of avoidance and turning a bling eye does not. This is a great example of what our partners are able to accomplish. I am left with only appreciation for being able to work with both Coaches Across Continents and Futbol Mas.
To Lima, to the Coast, to Huachipa!
April 12, 2017. CAC Process Consultant, Charlie Crawford, writes about CIC Daniela and program in Lima, Peru.
Arriving in Lima, Peru felt like stepping into both a foreign world and coming home at the same time. While our program would start on Monday, I was able to spend Saturday exploring the latest CAC office and surroundings before meeting up with fellow Coaches Across Continents staff Mark Gabriel, on Sunday. This opportunity led me to a bubble of Peruvian culture expressed along the jagged coastline spotted with public parks. Bike paths, futbol fields, and countless shady palm trees lined the winding cliffs and overlooked the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The highlight of this coddiwomple was stumbling onto the Park of Love, where mosaic tiles, colorful flowers and a massive statue of a loving couple holding each other in their arms helped create an atmosphere of comfort, connection and intimacy all in this beautifully publicly acknowledged space. Families, couples and friends would sleep, relax and spend their sunday in the best possible way here, in this paradise of a setting.
Every program is different. After working off-field in recent weeks, it was extraordinary to get back on the job with one of our strongest past participants and CIC’s, Daniela Gutierrez. Daniela has had consistent experience with CAC in past Peruvian programs which made working with her directly an obvious step. Currently working with Liga de Futbol Feminino e Integracion Social, Daniela used some of her connections to local schools and Sport for Social Impact individuals to organize a training in the neighborhood of Huachipa. This is an area no small distance away from central Lima. Through travels so far, I’ve found that many inhabitants of big cities tend to claim the ‘world’s craziest traffic’ title. While it’s my thought that no one has enough experience to empirically determine this, I’d be willing to consider Lima as a possibility. Public transportation is built around these monumental highways sunk into the hills and valleys of the cityscape. Within these highways are designated lanes for public buses and it was partially through these buses that we would travel to our venue every day (often with multiple taxis included in each direction of the trip). The training itself centered around a local school in Huachipa and the mothers of the students. Clearly new to the idea of Sport for Social Impact, we were able to introduce these parents to using sport in a way to address Gender Equity, Conflict Prevention and a number of other topics in our time together.
Mark & I met and began working together less than a year ago with CAC in Cambodia. In the months since, we have coached together and played in half a dozen countries. Starting this next stretch with him couldn’t have gotten off to a better start and working with our new partner, Futbol Mas, in the coming weeks only makes me more excited. Let’s go Lima!
Welcome To Sorong
May 4th 2016. Volunteer Jon Eisen writes about his time with CAC and Uni Papua in Sorong, Indonesia.
After a week of coaching coaches in Jakarta, Charlie Crawford, the leader from Coaches Across Continents who had previously been working for two and half months in Africa, and I boarded a red-eye to Eastern Indonesia. Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands and is the 4th most populous country in the world. Jakarta, where we spent our first week, is essentially the New York City of Indonesia. We spent our second week, the focus of this post, in Sorong, a pleasant tropical town with beaches, palm trees and a more laid back way of life. We were greeted early Saturday morning by Frans and Rudolf, two of the local coaches . We spent the weekend relaxing and doing touristy things, like visiting the Buddhist temple, eating seafood and beaching it with Frans and Rudolf, as well as Nonce, the behind the scenes organizer. Come Monday, we were ready to get back to work.
Quick refresher — Coaches Across Continents (CAC) is in the sport for social impact game. What that means is CAC uses football (soccer) as a jumping off point for conversations about social issues like gender equality, child rights, safe sex, and problem solving. CAC partners with local organizations, in this case Uni Papua, to put on week-long coaching clinics on how to play games that bring out these messages. After the program, CAC remains engaged with the local organization for at least 3 years, returning for training sessions annually. Charlie continuously repeated that we are not here to tell anyone what is right and wrong, only to discuss the reality and open up a discussion. Two of the most common phrases he says during games is “now, solve your problem” and “use your voice!” CAC knows that no matter what happens in a week-long program or even in the longer partnership, what the coaches coach is ultimately their decision. Our goal is simply to encourage critical thinking and speaking up.
All that being said, this trip was CAC’s first time in Sorong. We spent three mornings at schools playing games with students and the afternoon sessions, with the exception of one, were predominantly dominated by kids. No matter what language is spoken or what life is like, one thing is for sure, kids love playing games. Even though it’s not the explicit mission of CAC, it was a ton of fun seeing the kids having fun playing games like Scary Soccer, a real life version of rock-paper-scissors and 95% football, essentially soccer without a ball.
There was one moment that struck me as particularly powerful. It was during a game called Indonesia For Attitudes. For this game, we create four coned spaces on the field that represent characteristics of males. When we call out one of the characteristics, the players race to get to that particular space. After playing several rounds, we bring it back in and rename the spaces to represent characteristics of females. The social impact moment is when, at the completion of the game, you ask why did you pick the characteristics you did for each gender? Can a man be diligent? Can a woman be strong? What are the sources of our beliefs?
During this particular game that involved only males, Charlie asked where these preconceptions come from. Blank stares. I’m not sure if it was a translation thing, a social thing or perhaps a combination of both. But it struck me that many of these kids may never have considered why they believe what they believe. Self reflection and thinking about one’s society is not always easy and fun. I think it is something that everyone all over the world, myself included, should engage in more often. This game, Indonesia For Attitudes, was a fun way to encourage this reflection.
Interesting Side Notes About Indonesia
- From the moment we left the hotel each day, people would shout out “Hey Mister!” and take our pictures. Charlie Crawford, the CAC leader for the trip, was used to the celebrity status of being a white person in a place with no white people. He said it would get old. It certainly was a unique experience but I will admit that by the end of the week, I, like Charlie, was looking forward to the anonymity of being in America.
- Our final day was cancelled as the Commander of the Armed Forces, the third highest politician in Indonesia, was making a surprise visit to “Armyville,” the location of our field.
- While not a lot of people speak English, the people are incredibly warm, open and kind. Everyone hangs out together outside of their homes. There seemed to be a very rich community dynamic. Indonesia is a great place!
- Martabak Manis will change your life.
So many thank you’s are due for helping me to be a part of this partnership. First, thank you to all my friends and family that helped me raise funds for Coaches Across Continents and make my trip a reality. Next, thank you to the CAC folks, particularly Charlie Crawford, the man with the plan, a human dumpster for all the food in Indonesia (literally all of it) and the leader of the programs; Nora Dooley for encouraging me to do it even though I know less about soccer than the kids we were working with; and Adam Burgess, who helped with my trip logistics and kept me on track. Thank you to our gracious hosts in both Jakarta and Sorong who made the partnership possible — Maria, Mr. Harry, Andi, Yan, the Salatiga coaches, Frans, Rudolf and Nonce. Finally, thank you to all the coaches and kids that participated. You guys are the heartbeat of the partnership.