• Life Starts After Your Engineering Degree

    CAC SDL coach Turner Humphries talks about his 2nd week in Nagpur, India with Slum Soccer.

    December 10th 2015. Due to a cyclone developing in Chennai the decision was made to remain in Nagpur for a second week. A group of coaches from Chennai made the long train journey to Nagpur where their training would be held.

    After an hour and a half of hard work on the field we would all retreat to the small patch of shade outlined by benches with faded green, yellow and red paint. As the participants ate their breakfast of yellow rice and fruits, it offered me the opportunity to get to know them outside of being soccer coaches. For many of them their journey to becoming a coach was not so straightforward. The participants voiced their frustration with the pressure put on them by their parents. This pressure in some cases led them down a path that they had no interest in. It seemed like many of them shared similar stories, citing how their parents decided which school they would attend and which subjects they would study. Aaron, a participate from Chennai spoke to me about his time at university studying to earn a degree in engineering. ‘I had zero interest in engineering, but that didn’t matter,’ he proclaims, ‘in India every parent wants their child to be an engineer or a doctor. That decision was made for me basically as soon as I was born.’ While Aaron tells me his story his friends have been nodding their heads in agreement to every sentence. I go around to each of them and ask them what they studied, ‘civil engineering,’ ‘electrical engineering,’ ‘automotive engineering,’ ‘structural engineering.’ ‘I told you!’ Aaron shouts, ‘In India your life starts after your engineering degree.’ I have no doubt that their parents had only but the best intentions in mind. They most likely look at the world and see an incredibly competitive global workplace. Hoping to give their child the best chance to succeed they handpick a course of study they think will bring security. But what about the days of ‘you can be anything you want to be’? Is that just a nice phrase we tell children until they get older? Should it really be you can be anything you want to be, as long as it comes with a six figure salary, a company car and approving sentiments from the neighbors? We tell children to dream big, but if those dreams do not fall in line with what is socially acceptable or is not the ‘right’ choice, we tell them to dream again. Prithvi, another participant from Chennai was talking to me about his favorite soccer coaches, listing the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. Prithvi then asked me, ‘Do you think an Indian will ever coach in the Premier League in England?’ ‘Why not?’ I responded, ‘why not you?’

    Slum Soccer, Nagpur, India

  • Chennai learns about Gazza

    May 26th 2015. After two exciting weeks in Kolkata, I headed to Chennai to continue strengthening our partnership with Slum Soccer and Chevrolet FC and train another group of future coaches and youth leaders. The Slum Soccer Chennai team had selected a few coaches from their various centers in Tamil Nadu who will be responsible for implementing the CAC curriculum every week in their respective communities. The training effectively served as the transition between the first and second instalments of the Gamesa league. Building off of the excitement from the final tournament, just a week before, we worked to set the foundation for a strong second year of football for social impact throughout the region. Protection of the environment, gender equality and alcohol abuse were the chosen social issues for the week.

    The five Gazza games we played on Wednesday had tremendous success. Gazza is the player for our alcohol abuse module. All five games were chosen on Friday by participants to coach back to their peers. This demonstrates both how much the issue hit home but also their commitment to football for social impact. Although this was their first time to coach, they made a conscious effort to deliver the social messages associated with each game. What was remarkable was that each group described Gazza’s story in their own way and identified different lessons that could be learned. Some coaches also had fun inventing another  version of Gazza Dizzy tag. Gazza Dizzy tag is a game where the taggers have to turn around themselves while running, making it very difficult to catch players as they loose their balance, very much like the effects alcohol can have on one’s body. Instead of a tag game, players had to spin ten times around themselves and then try to score a goal, if they even managed to get to the ball before falling down.

    The training took place on a football field right in the middle the Mylapore community. This type of setting makes it easy to generate community support for a program. Slum Soccer has recently started working with Mylapore residents who are somewhat of an anomaly in cricket-crazy Chennai. We took advantage of the interest created by the training and the productive discussion after Marta for Gender Equity about why girls should play sport and why they don’t to invite girls from Mylapore for a fun session on Thursday afternoon. The three sole female participants led the games. More girls have been joining teams as a result of last year’s training and many of the participants have discussed the idea of opening girl centers when they return to their own communities.

    It has been exciting to witness Slum Soccer’s growth throughout India and there is no doubt that this new set of youth leaders will continue to expand the partnership’s impact to their different communities.


  • A Marriage in Social Impact

    December 17, 2014. Week 2 with Slum Soccer Nagpur brought to us by volunteer, Billy Hawkey.

    The setting was the same for our second week in Nagpur with Slum Soccer. Our participants for the week had already been through at least one CAC training. Some had participated in the training a year ago, others were a part of the training just one week prior. We had Community Impact Coaches and Slum Soccer senior staff members. The group knew what football for social impact meant, and they were familiar with the CAC methodology and values.

    This week Sophie and I had a goal to introduce new role models and as many new games as possible. To achieve this we had two separate on-field sessions every day, in addition to our classroom sessions. We were asking a lot of the group, we were going to challenge them, but they were ready.

    On day one we covered our Suarez and Hope Solo games. Day two was financial literacy and Perpetua games and the third day we played new child right’s games.  The games were new to the experienced coaches, which kept them engaged and having a blast. They were able to identify the social messages with ease, and so we challenged them frequently by asking how they would adapt the games to fit different social issues.

    Throughout the week the group had been planning games that they were going to invent and coach on the fourth and final day. The creativity and ideas they had were great. The topics included the dowry system, organic farming, rape, conflict resolution, the rights of children with disabilities, and child labor. They coached the games exceptionally; they were confident, well organized, and clear. They facilitated fluid discussions of the social impact related to their games. It was very fun to sit back and watch them at work. Slum Soccer is continuing to invent new games including math education games dealing with profit and loss (Did you even think it was possible to teach that through football?).

    An impactful game from the week was Suarez for Gender Equity. In this game two teams play a scrimmage with three goals to defend, and three goals to attack. Each goal represents a different way to empower women. The goals represented education, sports, and support. To begin, all players must walk. When an individual scores a goal, they must yell the empowering message and then they have the freedom to run. It took a few minutes for the first team to break even, but then we quickly had two running players, then three, four, and before you knew it everyone on the field was running. The quick increase in running players was due to the running players helping their teammates by giving good support, or dribbling fast around walking defenders and laying it off for a teammate to finish right in front of goal. This game represented the impact that empowering women has on a community. It has been shown that when empowered, women will give back and help their community more than men, just as in the game the empowered individuals helped their team reach its full potential.

    Slum Soccer was an extremely fun group to work with and the relationship between CAC and Slum Soccer is special. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them. We joked on several occasions that Slum Soccer and CAC are like a married couple; sharing the same thoughts and often pronouncing a great idea just seconds before the other intended to say the same thing. Slum soccer is adding programs of Edu-Kick, Shakti Girls Program, Slum Soccer on the Road, and Youth Leaders Training. They currently have centers in Nagpur and Chennai and are expanding to Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. 2015 is going to be an exciting year for the CAC and Slum Soccer partnership.

    In the evenings I played in friendly matches with the coaches, some of the participants, and the u14 Slum Soccer team. However one game in particular stood out. The Chai Game.

    I was feeling a little tired after a long day on the field, and was leaning towards calling it a day and hitting the bucket shower early. That’s when I was told “It’s chai game!” I needed no further persuading. I was up off the bench and on the field within seconds.

    Winning team gets chai; losing team serves. Throughout the game there was a sense of urgency in everyone’s voice. I couldn’t understand the exact content of what was being said, but the word “chai” was always in there. I would sporadically just scream out “chai!” to fit in. The game is up there for one of the most intense games I’ve been apart of, right next to games vs. Amherst. I am proud to say that I was victorious in my first career Chai match; however no chai was drank that night… we were all out of milk.



  • Déjà vu with Slum Soccer – In a New Place!

    November 25, 2014. Our partnership with Slum Soccer has been one that has shown how far our concept of self-directed learning can be taken through sport for social impact. Many of their Nagpur-based coaches have created their own curriculum games using soccer to teach about child rights, mathematics, and other subjects. This past week, we embarked on a new venture with Slum Soccer, working with them for the first time in Chennai (as well as Udumalpet) where they have recently expanded.

    When you think of Chennai, India – the first that comes to mind is not the ten-year anniversary of the tsunami that affected Indonesia in December 2004. However, the two beach slums on the eastern coast of India were hit hard by the tsunami causing deaths thousands of miles away from the epicenter of that deadly earthquake. The residents here still live in “temporary housing” a decade later, and the children are sons and daughters of fishermen, playing on trash-strewn beaches in their bare feet.

    This past week a group of over thirty hopeful coaches came together to learn how to use sport for social impact. They are hopeful coaches – because many of them are just entering their teenage years. The most impressive progress was seen in their coaching voices and their desire to teach the games correctly during our coach-backs. This is where they have to coach a CAC game they learned during the week back to the group. Many of them focused on teaching games like Ronaldo Skills, Mia Hamm Communication, and Marta Skills. In each instance the budding coaches were assertive in their communication and making sure to bring out the voices of the participants. This is the first step in giving children a “voice” to give them a “choice.”

    The next step is for them is to take on more leadership roles within Slum Soccer Chennai as assistant coaches. If they prove to be adept at their new assistant positions, they will grow into the first home-grown coaches for Slum Soccer Chennai. It is extremely refreshing to watch the first seeds of implementation and change germinate. In a few years, when the program reaches the same level of their parent organization in Nagpur, it will be rewarding to know that CAC was there for the growth at every stage.

    Learning skills with the new leaders of Slum Soccer in front of their homes on the beach

    Learning skills with the new leaders of Slum Soccer in front of their homes on the beach

    Leadership lines with Slum Soccer's new leaders

    Leadership lines with Slum Soccer’s new leaders