• Nothing Is Black And White

    June 12th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Charlie Overton writes about his 1st week with CAC in Livingstone, Zambia with New Hope Waves.

    With the week coming to a close, so does my first week in Africa. We left Livingstone this morning and arrived in Lusaka the capital of Zambia early in the afternoon. As we enter the weekend and look forward to the Champions League final tonight, I am also looking forward to my second week being a Global Citizen with CAC. I am looking forward to being able to have something to compare with my time in Livingstone. I had an amazing time in Livingstone, it was a great way to begin my experience working with CAC. It was also my first time in Africa and a “developing” country. This made it difficult to describe my emotions, whenever anyone asked me what I thought of Livingstone or Africa in general. Everything was new to me, so I was just taking it all in.

    Now that my week is over, I am able to sit back and think about my experience. As I said before I had an amazing time in Livingstone. I loved and still love the people of Livingstone, they are all extremely friendly and welcoming. We stayed in the Jollyboys campground, which felt like our own little compound, because for the majority of our time their Ashlyn (the CAC team leader) and I were the only ones there. A great part about this was that the employees working there were much more relaxed, especially at night. It was great to watch movies with Daniel, the man who works at night. He always watches movies at night, depending on which movies were being shown on the movie channels. We watched the James Bond movie Skyfall the first night and two Transformers movies the following night. Also, a perk of having a hostel to yourself is that when Ashlyn and I wanted to exercise we did not have to worry about being in anyone’s way, or worrying about the showers being occupied afterwards. I highly recommend the Jollyboys campground, when you are the only guests there.

    Furthermore, staying in the campground, as opposed to the backpackers lodge more in town, was beneficial, because most of the time the Mzungus (white people) who come to Livingstone do not really go into the surrounding areas and see the real side of Livingstone. However, our week with New Hope Waves and the founder Aldridge required us to work at a field that was in a neighborhood called Malota, which is one of the more impoverished areas in Livingstone. As we would walk back to town some days, because usually everyone walks to places in Livingstone, we would walk by markets selling second hand clothes, garbage piles falling into nearby rivers, and smiling children running up to us, because they were very excited to see a white person. How were we supposed to go out and see these impoverished people and places, and return to the touristy hostel where people are busy getting drunk and only interested in going to touristy places like Victoria Falls. Do not get me wrong seeing the Victoria Falls was one of the most amazing experiences I have ever had in my life. It was without a doubt the wettest experience I have had. An absurd amount of water falls on you as you try take a picture of a natural wonder. However, coming to Livingstone just to see the falls and party at your hostel I don’t believe counts as a way to truly experience Africa and its people. They are missing out on learning some of the local language and seeing the smile on the people of Livingstone’s faces when you say, “zikomo,” which means thank you. In my opinion those smiles matter more to me than any drink I could have had.

    In a time when the relationship between black and white is very tense, my time in Livingstone shows both the effects of a positive relationship and a negative one. As people coming from the “west” we have to be careful of our role in African life. Africa is not our playground. It is not a place where we can come, stay in a lavish hostel, see some wild animals, go see a natural wonder for a week or a few days, and then say we have been to Africa. I do not think this constitutes as Africa. Did we talk to the people? Get to know any of them? Where are they from? What do they do for work or for fun? What are their dreams and aspirations? In many places around the world I think it is okay to be a tourist, and only go to the touristy places. However, in Africa or other places where colonialism and western powers have caused many issues in the development of these countries we need to be careful and sure about our intentions when we visit these wonderful places. Because do not get me wrong these places are truly wonderful. Colonialism has definitely caused many issues by creating the foundations for unequal distribution of power. And although colonialism is technically over some of those foundations are still around. Colonialism is still being blamed for the poverty in Africa, but although I saw many people living in poor conditions with garbage all over the places and kids playing soccer with ripped shoes or no shoes I also saw that there were places and people in Livingstone with money and wealth. They may not have been millionaires, but they were well off. Therefore, unlike the way it is commonly perceived, Africans are not all poor. It is not black and white. Livingstone is a wonderful place with both rich and poor living very close side by side. Hopefully with the work CAC is doing with New Hope Waves the people of Livingstone can help the less fortunate to grow and everyone can prosper in this amazing place.

  • Using Sports to Unlock the Conversation

    June 9th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo blogs about working with the Ministry of Sport in Pemba, Tanzania.

    From Unguja, Nico and I made the short trip to the island of Pemba (also part of the Zanzibar archipelago), where we joined Markus for the next week’s program. From living in Tanzania, I’d heard of Pemba to be one of the most exotic and remote vacation destinations imaginable: a remote tropical island, unblemished by the tourism industry that has overtaken parts of the busier Unguja island. When I told friends in Tanzania that I was to spend a week in Pemba, I saw the jealousy in their eyes, assuming that I was off for nothing more than a beach holiday. While it’s true that Pemba is among the more comfortable CAC program destinations, it, like any CAC program, is no holiday.

    On Pemba, it is not uncommon for men to have multiple wives, many of whom are married as teenagers. The average woman bears at least 6 children. Though a man may have dozens of children depending on him for support, there are few economic opportunities available to make that possible. In keeping with religious-based tradition, women are sometimes not permitted to leave the home – the husband does all the family’s external business. For the women who do go out in public, it is unusual to see anything more than their faces and hands. Domestic abuse of women and children is seldom seen and even less openly discussed. Sexual abuse of children is known to exist in theory, but rarely traced to a specific person or institution (school, mosque, etc). It is safe to say that Pemba has its share of social issues – issues that, over the course of the week, our participants became more willing to acknowledge and discuss.

    On Monday morning, though nearly a quarter of our 40 something participants had attended our program in a previous year, there were many among the remaining fraction of attendees who seemed unsure of what they had shown up for, some perhaps even a little bit skeptical of what they could possibly gain from the three of us. For some, tactical football instruction seemed to be the priority, rather than any sort of social impact coaching. But despite this, throughout the week, I admired the groups’ receptiveness to our discussion and their increasing willingness to listen and participate in the program. Of course, the curriculum itself is the key to opening our discussions and drawing people into the whole program. It is what makes CAC’s work possible anywhere: using something as fun and engaging as sports to direct a group’s energy to focus on heavier topics that, like sexual abuse of children, can be considerably less fun to engage with. The group began to appreciate the subtle ways that sports can be used to teach valuable off-field lessons. I observed several knowing grins and nods of understanding every time we pointed out the ways that the games reinforce using your voice, as the idea of encouraging children to use their voice seemed to be one that appealed the most to our group. At our closing ceremony on Friday, some of those who had been the least involved on Monday vociferously expressed their satisfaction with the program and their gratitude to the coaches for working with their group, and I was proud to have witnessed their transformations over the week. Though Pemba still has a number of social issues its leaders continually grapple with, I am confident that with every class of CAC participants, there are a few more voices in the community who have the confidence and inspiration to push for the changes they would like to see on their island.

  • From Buckingham Palace to Gomoa Palace

    June 2nd 2017. CAC’s Jordan Stephenson blogs on working with Gomoa Sport for Change in Gomoa, Ghana.

    This week the training took place in a tribal village of Gomoa Benso within the Central Region of Ghana. The partner we are working with is Gomoa Sport for Change who are based in a government school and specialize in Football, Handball, Volleyball and Athletics. Among the team from CAC was  myself, JK (one of our Global Citizens this summer) and Oti (a legend within the CAC community and a Community Impact Coach for the Ghana partners this year).

    Upon arrival we were welcomed by the Queen Mother of Gomoa at the Palace where we would be staying. She sent her apologies that the Chief was out of the country and therefore would not be able to welcome us personally. Within the Palace there were staff to cook our Ghanaian traditional food (fu-fuo and banku were our particular favorites), the family of the chief and the queen mother as well as ourselves. It was tough to get a moments rest as after two minutes of arriving back at the palace we have dozens of children outside of our room wanting to hang out with us!

    The day before the training we were taken to watch an FA Cup 4th round match between local team Proud United FC and national giants Ashanti Ktoko, we were hoping to see a giant killing game typical of that of the English FA Cup however that was not to be the case. For the second half we stood next to a commentator for a National Radio Station: Accra FM and he asked myself and Oti to be pundits and comment on the key moments of the game, which was something we grabbed at the chance to do! The experience of exiting the stadium whilst negotiating our way past the disappointed and frantic home supporters was something I will never forget – somehow it is always the referee’s fault!

    During the training we had a combination of coaches and teachers as well as Mr Afried who is the Director of Physical Education within the Ministry of Education for the region of Gomoa Central who has jurisdiction over 250 schools. He was very interested in the work we were doing and will subsequently write a report of his findings to share with the Director of Education – a great advocate of the use of sport for social impact within physical education.

    A big highlight of the training was delivering on Thursday when we showed that being exposed to the elements (heavy heavy rain) was no obstacle for playing sport and being active; especially in a country which has a rainy season lasting for 7 months!!

    A big focus of the training was looking at traditions, and which traditions have been in place for a long period of time which hold the community back. Therefore it seemed quite ironic that we were staying with the Chief and Queen mother (the cultural leaders of the community) at the palace, whilst at the same time asking what they thought the impact of having cultural leaders was on their society.

    The training was a success and resulted in more coaches and teachers who are highly motivated and upskilled to start to be an agent for social change through sport; whilst being supported by Gomoa Sport for Change who can support them to achieve community change.

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  • Free On The Field

    May 30th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo returns to work with CAC and the Ministry of Sport in Unguja, Zanzibar. 

    This week we were back on the largest island of Zanzibar, Unguja, for what is now the fifth consecutive year. Community Impact Coach Nico and I participated here for the first time, though Nick has been here almost every year. With nearly eighty participants, a pristine turf field at the city stadium, adequate cones, and a horde of One World Futbols, we could not have asked for a better setup for our program. The end result did not disappoint – we dodged (almost all of) the rain, played over forty different games, and capped off our excellent week with a much-hyped full-field match between coaches and teachers. Though we ran the program at a fast pace, we did not sacrifice depth: we had a number of substantial discussions about opportunities for girls and women – on and off the field – the rights of children, and how the prevailing Islamic culture in the Zanzibar archipelago underpins local attitudes on these topics. All around, we had a fantastic week.

    One of the best things about the week was just another simple reminder about why the sports field is such a special place.  On the field, people are free. Free to express themselves in the way they play each game. Despite a language barrier, I’ve often felt like I get to know each participant personally by watching how they play; the way they run or approach the ball reveals something about a player’s personality. It is nothing short of beautiful to assemble a group of men and women of widely ranging ages and watch each of them light up when they receive the ball, or solve a problem, or, most brilliantly, when they celebrate scoring, and to witness them shed some of the restraint they may exhibit off the field. Ultimately, stepping onto the field grants players the liberty to be themselves. It is a form of expression, and the games we play make this joy accessible to participants of any age or ability. For many, sports can be an outlet or a refuge from anything else in their lives; once they take the field, nothing outside of the field matters anymore. While football has this power in all corners of the globe, somehow I never get tired of recognizing it.  

    Realizing this anew underscored for me the significance of a major focus of our program: the value of offering all children – boys and girls alike –  the opportunity to play sports, and secondly, ensuring that those children are protected from all forms of abuse on the field. When communities and families can be rife with conflict, violence and abuse, the opportunity to play freely and safely is ever more valuable to children. To deny that to any child, whether because of their gender or ability or by allowing the field to become an abusive environment, slims the chance that any of those children will grow up to escape the cycle of violence. In our program, we spent considerable time discussing the ways that adults abuse children, how to recognize this abuse, and, most crucially, how to find other ways for our coach and teacher participants to discipline their children. We devoted several other conversations to discussing how and why girls are excluded from sports, finding that the often strict Islamic culture discourages people from allowing girls to play sports, football in particular. Though opposing a dominant religion can stir controversy, as the participants seemed to decide that their girls did in fact have the right to play sports, we explored ways that they could offer girls the opportunity to play without contradicting religion. There remains a significant cultural resistance to overcome, but we tried to avoid pitting girls playing sports against our participants’ religion.

    The Ministry of Education also plans to implement CAC curriculum in all of the schools in Unguja, so we can now see how the five years of CAC programs have been appealing to people, and that the discussions we’ve begun on the field have spread off the field throughout the other 51 weeks each year. Excited to see what this program will look like in its sixth year!

  • Fueling A Social Change Warrior In Zimbabwe

    May 26, 2017. Community Impact Coaches Shingirirai and Dorothy write about their week working with CAC, coaching the SLIZ program in Harare, Zimbabwe. 

    Shingi

    This was a week where we took the classroom to the comfort of the playing field. I did not only facilitate, teach and instruct, but had the opportunity to learn as well from the community of teachers and sports people. Coaches Across Continents did not only empower me with sports drills, but created a budding hero, and fueled the warrior in me to be a game changer back in the community and beyond. It equipped me with the broadening of my horizon to discover that there are lessons through sports which can be picked even during times of struggle.

    I have come to the realization that sport is not only about competition, improving speed and winning, but also empowerment through knowledge of life skills. I have been trained to teach, not only the youth, but adults too. I am inspired to become a point person in my community and beyond, to provide a series of education even after the attachment. Coaches Across Continents have invested in me authority to solve problems, challenges, and conflicts through sports. It was so inspiring to create games of my own.

    Dorothy

    It was a really great experience to have CAC in Zimbabwe. Being a coach who is mainly involved in football for competition, I never thought of football as a way to change lives, and create skills as a way to make an impact in people’s livelihood. CAC taught me how I can use sport coaching to implement character building, self-confidence, fight diseases, amongst a host of life changing games which work in our day to day realities.

    Also, the planning phase before working, and evaluation of work done was very educational. Working with CAC benefited me a lot in execution of work, planning, and group motivation as a facilitator. The exposure was worth it. I really feel empowered that I have been given this opportunity by CAC as a female. This shows that women can be leaders and that the sky is the limit. Working the program was fun, I benefited a lot, and it was an amazing experience. My wish the next time CAC comes is that it will encompass those coaches in the remote areas, especially to promote the girl children and to empower them to be future leaders. Thumbs up to CAC for the amazing job they do across continents. It was an honor to work with Em and Ash, they were very fun and social people that left me richer with knowledge and life changing games.

  • “She was prominent. She was confident. She knew the game.”

    January 31st 2017. CAC Global Citizen Taylor Allen writes about her experience working with CAC and the Haitian Initiative in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. 

    Upon arrival into Port-au-Prince I could already get a sense of the bustle around the capital city. Our partner arrived at the airport shortly after we landed and drove us to the guest house the CAC team would be staying for the week. The sun was relentless in its heat and humidity, and the amount of cars we saw on the road could rival the infamous Los Angeles traffic. The sidewalks were full of vendors selling t-shirts, shoes, electronics, rice, beans, fruits, vegetables, and drinks. We arrived at the beautiful guest house the local partner offered to CAC, with a beautiful pool in the courtyard, wi-fi, electricity, and three prepared meals a day. The continuous energy that welcomed us as we walked off the plane was the same energy that surrounded us for the remaining two weeks on and off the field.

    It was an amazing opportunity to get the chance to play in Haiti’s National Stadium. The stadium is located near the base of a mountain, which made the views all the more beautiful. Every morning we’d pile into the car and drive for an hour to get to the field that was three miles away. Streets were busy every morning with young children dressed in their school uniforms walking to class along the sidewalk with motor bikes zooming in and out of traffic. This past week we had a total of ninety participants, among them were coaches, players and students. The partnership with Haitian Initiative (HI) is in its fifth year, therefore, the decision was made that by the end of the week Coaches Across Continents would be there as support, while the coaches of Haitian Initiative would run a futbol for social impact program with CAC curriculum and their adapted games they’ve created over the last five years with the participants. The games included some from CAC Curriculum, class sessions with CAC, and adapted games created by Haitian Initiative coaches specifically for the local issues they wanted to address as leaders in their communities.

    In the middle of the week, inspired by CAC staff Emily Kruger and Jordan Stephenson, Haitian Initiative coaches decided to create a list of criteria that they believe encompasses a successful training session for self-assessment and peer-assessment to make improvements. Once this list was created, every afternoon following, the HI coaches would sit down and run through each session from the day and check off (or not check off) the boxes. In doing this, we saw noticeable improvements each day! HI coaches took full ownership of running the program for the week by Thursday and Friday. It was incredible to see CAC’s program come full circle and achieve the goal of sustainable social impact through sport.

    One of my favorite moments this week came from an HI coach named Astrude. Among the HI coaches, there are about four women. One of the women is a powerhouse, she’s one of the best coaches within the group, male or female, her name is Marie-France. When the participants were split into smaller groups, Astrude was paired with Marie-France. I had never really heard Astrude speak, she was quiet and kept to herself often. Then the day came, I could hear and feel her presence on the field, and ran over to catch the rest of the session. She took initiative (no pun intended), she was prominent, she was confident, she was heard, and she knew the game. Not often did I see a woman leading a group of men this week. Astrude was as confident as the best of them while leading a group of twenty-five men in teaching skills and proper technique. She was knowledgable and is a great player to begin with, so you can tell she was comfortable. What an inspiration. She’s surrounded by talkative men throughout the day, but when it was her turn to step up, she filled even the biggest shoes.

    This week was a lot to take in and a bit challenging at first, from sights to smells, to navigating communication without being able to speak the same language. I was lucky enough to learn from the leadership of CAC’s staff Emily Kruger and Jordan Stephenson. They are great role models to follow when it comes to circumventing new and unfamiliar situations on and off the field. I couldn’t have asked for a better team to be a part of. I’ve learned a lot, met a lot of new people, learned a lot of new games, built new friendships, and look forward to keeping in touch with the inspiring coaches I’ve met on this trip. Thank you Coaches Across Continents for sharing what you do and allowing for opportunities, like this, for people like myself to volunteer. I look forward to my next trip to Mexico with CAC!