• Homegrown Impact

    August 31st, 2015. SDL Coach, Nora Dooley, reflects on running her first program in the United States.

    I’ve been working for CAC for almost exactly two years. I have run trainings in dozens of countries and scores of communities – all foreign to the country in which I was born and raised: the USA.

    August presented a new frontier for my work with CAC. Although I know the States well when it comes to my personal lens, my professional lens had yet to glimpse our work on my home turf.

    Our first US partnership began in 2014 when Chevrolet built a portable field for Beyond the Ball in Chicago, Illinois as part of their #WhatDoYouPlayFor campaign. We have been involved in this initiative in many countries now, training local leaders in our curriculum in order to provide the communities that receive Chevrolet’s fields with resources capable of making the most of the new space.

    I recently returned to Little Village, Chicago to pay a visit to Beyond the Ball (BTB), work closely with their coaching staff, and further their training in sport for social impact. That portable field that Chevrolet built? A community treasure. It was amazing to see proof that this gift of sport was received by an organization fit to capitalize on the opportunity presented to them.

    During my week with BTB I learned a great deal about their organization, the people who work there, and the community they work in. With all of our programs there is a portion of training dedicated to discussing what it means to create a safe space for children to play and learn regardless of any differences they might have. Often, due to the poor conditions of the physical spaces our partners are tasked with using, the bulk of these discussions centers on the role of the coach in nurturing emotional safety. Beyond the Ball, however, opened my mind to the potential of a physical space to have incredible positive impact on an entire community.

    BTB has been running free programs in the Little Village community of Chicago for nearly 20 years. Their mission is community empowerment. They have created a niche where all members of the community are welcome, involved, and valued as part of a growing family. The results that they have seen over time and with great sacrifice are impressive. Like a business, they identified a gap in the market, filled it with passion, and are humbly plodding on, aware of their homegrown success and ever eager to do more.

    I thoroughly enjoyed my time getting to know this small organization with big ideas and the people capable of bringing them to life. Crossing the threshold from the known (foreign countries) to the unknown (the US) I was, honestly, more weary than I’d like to admit. I wasn’t confident in my ability to adapt to this seemingly alien culture in which I was once a part. A week with Beyond the Ball and my insecurities vanished. People are people no matter where you are. We all love to play, to learn, to love, and to laugh – especially at ourselves.

    B2B's field, courtesy of Chevrolet FC

    B2B’s field, courtesy of Chevrolet FC


  • Tap Dancing Across Chingola

    August 8th 2015. CAC staff member Turner Humphries talks about our partnership with Malalo Sports in Chingola, Zambia.

    For our final week in Zambia we were working in a town called Chingola. The main source of income for the town and its population comes from the copper mines. Almost everyone in Chingola either works in some part of the mining process or provides a service for those who do. All over town you could see young men strolling around in the ubiquitous mining uniform, a navy blue jumpsuit with metallic reflective strips around the knees and elbows. Around every street corner merchants carrying bracelets and other jewelry made of copper could be found hoping to cash in on what the final products of the mine offered.

    On Wednesday afternoon we visited a local school where Maureen, one of our participants, coaches a boy’s team. As we pulled up to the school Maureen already had a game of soccer tennis in full swing. From the onset it was impressive to see Maureen command respect from a group of boys aged 16-18. During her practice she conducted an energized Circle of Friends, a game showcasing the destructive effects of alcohol and a game demonstrating what happens to a community when you exclude women from participating in most aspects of the economy. Maureen had clearly put some thought into the design and schedule of her practice. The games she chose not only delivered excellent social messages but were well suited for the skillful players she had. Maureen was one of the first female coaches I have seen coaching a group of older boys. Her players benefit not only from her superb coaching skill but also from having such a strong female role model in their life. Maureen serves as a great example for other women in the community who want to become football coaches.

    As the week progressed and we got to know our participants better we began talking about some of the traditional gender roles commonplace in Chingola. It became evident that generally the mining jobs are reserved for men, with the women creating income from either washing clothes, cleaning or cooking. Majori, one of our female participants spoke up to say how she wants to work in the mine one day. Despite her father’s misgivings she is determined to stand up to the traditional gender roles established in her hometown. For me this was a powerful moment, both for the courage this young women showed in her willingness to challenge the status quo, but also understanding what it might be like to have your own father disagree with your career choice. Growing up I was always told I could be whatever I wanted to be; an astronaut, a police officer, a chef or a sport for social impact coach. It becomes easy to take this kind of support for granted as I, and many others, have grown to expect it.

    Our week in Chingola also marked the third week with one of our volunteers, Sarah Thompson. She progressed each week, slowly coming out of her shell becoming a great coach with a calm demeanor. One of my favorite quotes from Sarah happened each time the CAC team introduced themselves to the participants, “Hey I’m Sarah and I’m from Green Bay, Wisconsin. I’m really close to Chicago if you know where that is.” I thought of following with, ‘Hey I’m Turner and I’m from Charlotte, North Carolina. I’m really close to New York City if you know where that is.’ Another favorite Sarah moment came when she was leading Circle of Friends – Obstacle Course. This is our standard Circle of Friends warm-up game but various obstacles are placed in the middle of the circle that required the player to perform certain exercises. During our time together the CAC team learned that once upon a time Sarah was an esteemed tap dancer. Naturally we wanted to see her display her unique skillset. As Sarah placed her final cone down in the circle she informed the group that at this cone you must do any dance of your choice. To demonstrate Sarah proudly stepped up and performed a tap rendition to a confused but equally impressed Zambian audience.


  • Double Finalist at the Beyond Sport Awards

    October 27, 2014.  Coaches Across Continents is a double-finalist at the prestigious Beyond Sport Awards in the category of Corporate of the Year for our partnerships with Chevrolet and Standard Chartered Bank.  The 2014 awards will be presented this year in Johannesburg, South Africa from October 28-30th.  Out of 350 entrees received from 70 countries, Coaches Across Continents is the only organization that has been short-listed as a multiple finalist.  In addition, Nick will also be speaking and presenting during the three-day conference as he did earlier this year at Beyond Soccer 2014.

    In 2014 CAC was excited to begin our partnership with Chevrolet on their “What Do You #PlayFor?” Campaign which launched in Indonesia, and continued at communities in the USA and South Africa.  Chevrolet was instrumental in building a soccer facility for each community, as well as utilizing Coaches Across Continents to educate local coaches and leaders in a sport for social impact curriculum to facilitate long-term social development.  CAC is also included with Standard Chartered Bank and their ongoing GOAL Programme, where we developed an on-field component to their female empowerment initiative and financial literacy.

    Coaches Across Continents has a strong and positive history with Beyond Sport as winners in Best New Project (2009) for our Hat-Trick Initiative.  In 2014 our Hat-Trick Initiative is in place with 75 communities in 27 different countries.  Several of our current and past partner programs have also been short-listed for their efforts in various categories at the 2014 Beyond Sport Awards and we want to congratulate them and wish them the best of luck this weekend.

    Coaches Across Continents, Chevrolet FC, and Manchester United enjoyed the first weekend of play at the new Rumah Cemara Field

    Coaches Across Continents, Chevrolet FC, and Manchester United enjoyed the first weekend of play at the new Rumah Cemara Field

  • Coaches Across Continents/Chevrolet Shortlisted for Beyond Sport Award

    August 24th, 2014. Coaches Across Continents have been shortlisted for the 2014 Beyond Sport Awards. The prestigious global sport for social development awards selected the joint Coaches Across Continents and Chevrolet application in the highly competitive Corporate of the Year category. CAC’s work with Chevrolet in 2014 has been a resounding success with projects in Bandung, Indonesia and Chicago, USA completed earlier in the year. These projects have provided local partners Rumah Cemara and Beyond the Ball with the facilities, equipment and tools to create sustainable social change through soccer. The 3rd Chevrolet project of 2014 will take place in Hammanskraal, South Africa with Dreamfields in September.

    CAC won the Beyond Sport Best New Project for the Hat-Trick Initiative in 2009 and since then we have maintained a close relationship with the conference and awards, attending the event every year and regularly leading high-level panels. This year the Beyond Sport Summit will take place in Johannesburg from October 28th-30th.


    Click here for more information on the Beyond Sport Awards.



  • Building Community Stakeholders in Chicago

    June 10, 2014. Coaches Across Continents just concluded a ten-day training session with former Beyond Sport award-winning group Beyond the Ball (BTB), based in South Lawndale, Chicago, also know as Little Village. The partnership came about from our work with Chevrolet FC that will impact ten programs over the next two years under the banner “What do you #Playfor?” This was the first full-year of a Hat Trick Initiative that CAC has done based in the United States. Beyond the Ball, led by Rob and Amy Castanedo, seeks to create community stake-holders in the neighborhood of Little Village, Chicago. The perception to the outside world of Little Village is greatly influenced by negative media due to gang-violence, primarily from the Latin Kings and the Two Sixes.  In this community of just 4.4 square miles there are over 2,000 gang members.  Beyond the Ball is using sport to activate safe spaces in the community and to show the youth and families that there are other alternatives.

    Over the course of ten-days, Coaches Across Continents assisted BTB with both on field coaching education and off field consultancy work. This is an organization that started in 1998 reaction to Rob and Amy’s house being burned down by gang members. Undeterred, this couple started BTB to use the power of sport to activate a safe space around the local school, Gary/Ortiz Elementary School campus.  Originally a basketball program, they now play some other sports and are looking to add a full-time soccer program. The organization has also grown along with their participants. They know have children who have started in their “Bitty Ball” program and are now young leaders in middle school who are beginning to teach the newest class of Bitty Ballers.

    The biggest impact for the coaches within BTB was learning to allow children to try to “solve their problems” during games rather than providing the answers for them.   This was highlighted during Hope Solo for Conflict Resolution, a simple game with one rule. While in pairs, you must get over a cone together. Initially the pairs stare at you wondering exactly what you want from them. Once they realize that they must “solve their own problem” they begin communicating with their partner to come up with different ways to get over the cone together. After a few minutes, each pair usually comes up with a dozen different ways of solving the problem, illustrating that there are many solutions to any situation, and reinforcing communication and problem-solving techniques.

    Along with our direct work with BTB, we also held a three-day coaching course for invited local NGOs who want to use sport for social impact. Coaches from 13 different NGOs from around the city came to Little Village to participate. When they implement the curriculum with their own organizations, they will impact nearly 3,000 children. The best feedback came from some of the coaches. Jessica Salinas from the Boys & Girls Club said, “This was the greatest course I have ever been to. Each day I went back to the office and told everyone that this is the program they all should be attending.” Richard Armijo reiterated this stating, “Every school teacher should get the opportunity to do this.

    CAC also worked with BTB off-field as BTB expand their sports program to include full-time soccer. Working with Co-Program Director Michel Tilapa we developed a plan for a comprehensive soccer-only curriculum that focuses on messages applicable to the children of Little Village. Working with the other Co-Program Director Lisette Leonardo we focused on best practices for monitoring & evaluation. We also held a full-day staff training development session addressing a host of issues. Jesus Martinez, Operations Director, said, “It meant a lot for our staff. We have a very young staff, we’re all young, we’re all learning. There’s always ways to improve our programs. We definitely feel we learned a lot from our partnership with CAC.”


    Coaches Across Founder Nick Gates helps coaches develop their own sport for social impact games

    Hope Solo for Conflict Resolution in threes!

    Hope Solo for Conflict Resolution in threes!