• The Beauty of Sindhupalchok

    December 16th 2016. Dylan Pritchard blogs from Sindhupalchok, Nepal where we work with Childreach Nepal.

    In my last week with Coaches Across Continents, Mark, Tejas, and I were with Prateek and Shamsher of Childreach Nepal along with Pema who is a leader on the Michael Johnson Young Leader course in Manekharka, Sindapalchuk. Manekharka is a small village that is only five hundred meters long in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountain Range. It took us three different jeeps to get us there from Kathmandu in six hours. For only about thirty minutes of that six-hour drive were we on paved roads. The rest of the time we were driving up and down mountains on rocky dirt roads. It was a rough ride to get there but once we got there it was absolutely worth it. The beauty of the place stunned Mark, Tejas, and me. Manekharka is at the top of a foothill so you can look down and see a beautiful valley filled with terrace style farming. When you look up you can see some more beautiful foothills and can even see some peaks of the Himalayas. On the first morning Mark and I decided to hike to the top of the mountain we were on so we could get a better look at the peaks of the Himalayas. It was super tiring but we made it and snapped some awesome photos before we realized that we could possibly be late to our first training session. We booked it down the trail and ended up about half a mile away from the tin house we were staying at with only ten minutes to spare! We had to get some directions from some little girls, jump down some farming terraces, and jog but we made it because all the coaches and players came an hour late. So we had breakfast, got dressed, and made the five-minute walk to the training field.

    The setting for the field was stunning. It was not a very nice pitch but it was nestled on a terrace in the mountain and was surrounded by houses and animals with the Himalayas in the background. Only pictures can do any of the views I am talking about justice. This week’s program was set up the same way as last week in Bhaktapur except the players were older. It was an awesome week and I finally felt that I actually made a difference with my coaching. I worked on all of the points I have received from the coaches I have encountered on this trip and it culminated with this week. This week I taught all of the skill games that are modeled after famous football players. The way these games work is you do three different skills over the course of the drill and while you do the skill you must say what skill that is, such as “Ronaldo 1!” The drill works on soccer skills but it encourages the player to become more comfortable with their voice. Later on they then have the chance to choose what skill they want to do which reinforces the Self-Directed Learning part of CAC because they now make the decision on what skill to do instead of the coaches. What made me happy was that in the player’s spare time in between drills and during water breaks they were doing the skills and saying the skill aloud like I coached them. This is a reflection of their eagerness to learn and play football but it made me giddy inside knowing that I aided in the process of sustaining CAC curriculum past the time I leave. This was the first instant I felt the affect of coaching and it will definitely not be my last. During this past five weeks it has helped me realize that football must always be part of my life and coaching would be a great way to do that whether it be part time or full time.

    I have had an awesome time this past five weeks learning about football for social impact and I would like to take this time to thank Coaches Across Continents for giving me this opportunity. They say on their website that you will not understand what football for social impact is until you go on a trip and I cannot agree more. The experience I have had learning about different cultures through soccer has been one of the best of my life so far. I owe a special thank you to Mark for putting up with me for five weeks but also teaching me so much about coaching, being a leader, life, and myself. The concepts I have learned from you on this trip will serve me for the rest of my life. Thank you again Coaches Across Continents for this experience and hopefully I get a chance to work with you again in the future.

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  • Trickle Out Effect in Bhaktapur

    December 14th 2016. CAC Global Citizen Dylan Pritchard discussed the CAC approach in Bhaktapur, Nepal during our partnership with Childreach Nepal.

    This week, Mark, Tejas, and I were in Bhaktapur, Nepal, which is a city outside of Kathmandu, working with Childreach Nepal. This week was different than any other week because we worked with a majority of children. The way Coaches Across Continents works is that they will mostly work with coaches of the community instead of children, in order to make sure that the games and concepts they teach will last past the time they are gone and until the next time they visit. The way Mark puts it is that Coaches Across Continents partners with organizations all over the world that coincide with their message, which is to teach social impact through Self-Directed Learning in order to better their surrounding community. It is supposed to be a partnership that will last long past CAC is gone rather than an organization from the West coming in and imposing their dominance and insisting that their way of doing things is better than theirs year after year. With this type of approach, it gives the organization that CAC partners with a platform to customize their own curriculum that caters to the needs of their community instead of teaching a cookie cutter curriculum that has the idea that “one size fits all.” That is why I have enjoyed my trip with CAC thus far because they want to better the core of the community and have it trickle out to everyone else instead of imposing the idea that “West knows best”.

    Although we worked with mostly children this week, we did feel that we made a change for the better. The way that Childreach Nepal wants to set up their system at their school in Bhaktapur is to have eight senior students be taught our coaching style in order to teach all of the younger children of the school. So this camp was composed of those eight senior students and about thirty children between the ages of ten and thirteen. Although the trainings were more for the seniors, we still had to coach children. I have done a little bit of coaching children before but man did I forget the patience you need to do it! Nonetheless, we calmed the kids down a little bit by the end of the week and they had some fun playing the games. The most important part is that we broke the senior students out of their shells and paved the way for them to become leaders in their community by teaching them to coach football for social impact through Self-Directed Learning. On top of all that, I felt that I got a little bit better with integrating the Self-Directed Learning of social issues while keeping it fun in my coaching. We also played a lot of fun Nepali cultural games such as kabaddi, which is a like a more intense tag game, and chungi, which is a rubber band version of a hacky sack. This all added up to an awesome time with the kids.

    This week was an interesting week to say the least. I have been nursing a rolled ankle, which I did last week in Gothatar by stepping in a hole in the field, and on Wednesday I was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. If you have never heard of it, it is a really weird virus that attacks the nerve that controls one side of your face and causes temporary paralysis to that side of your face. Basically, only one side of my face is working right now. I cannot fully blink with my left eye and when I smile, the left side of my mouth says, “Nope, not today.” Although it sounds serious, and I am not taking it lightly, it is more common than people think and it is only very temporary. It is only in my face and nothing else has been affected. Thanks to some family connections and the understanding of CAC, I have been given the necessary medical help I need to complete my trip because there is no way I am leaving early.

    Despite having Bell’s palsy, I still had an amazing week in Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is a very interesting city because it is a World Heritage Site, which means that the cities architecture cannot be altered in any way. Because the city still keeps its bagoda look, it gives the feeling that the culture of the people has not changed whatsoever. We saw everything from an animal sacrifice to the famous Five Story Temple, and in between that we played da cau, a hacky sack version of a badminton birdie, in Durbar Square where my idol David Beckham once played soccer with a bunch of school kids. The food was amazing and I was introduced to “chat.” Now my life or death Nepali vocabulary consists of momo’s, dal, bhat, chat, dhanyabad (thank you), and Namaste. Between coaching, Bell’s palsy, and sight seeing, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Bhaktapur and thank CAC for the opportunity to come here.

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  • Coldest Showers, Warmest People.

    January 4th 2015.

    Nepal 2015 Earthquake Numbers:

    Number of people killed: 8,617

    Number of people injured: 16,808

    Number of people displaced: 2.8 million

    Number of people affected: 5.6 million

    Number of people in need of food assistance: More than 1 million

    Number of hospitals damaged: 26

    Number of houses destroyed: over 473,000

    Week two with the incredible Childreach program started on Sunday morning with a 60km drive to Manekaharka.  That doesn’t sound too far at all until you start and have to navigate tiny dirt roads with drops of more than a few hundred feet over the side (within an hour, the road was blocked to move a local bus that had crashed over the edge).  We were mightily relieved to arrive four and a half hours after we set off at the small village of less than 70 homes at the epicenter of the April earthquake. More than 75% of these houses were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake, as was the school.

    At more than 2000m, Manekaharka is in the mountains with breathtaking views on all sides of the Himalayas.  Prateek and Kuhmar, two of the most passionate and knowledgable Sport for Social Impact coaches, had a wonderful plan for the week that included 4 local schools, students and teachers.  Monday started with more than 40 shy young leaders and finished on Friday with more than 40 of the loudest, most confident young leaders who had seen how sport could impact their community on things like Child Rights, Female Empowerment and HIV Behavior change.

    The big successes of the week were games like Know Your Rights, Hope Solo for Conflict Prevention, and Hands v HIV.  And we did invent a new way to greet everyone, with the Namaste bow-High 5.

    The end of each day was the hardest part.  Who knew that Himalayan water could be so cold?  We’re not just talking cold water, we’re talking freeeeeeezing water!!  But the people of Manekaharka are the kindest, warmest, most welcoming people on earth.  We were taken to a Hindu Ceremony, we were overfed with local food and tea, we climbed a couple of mountains and we shared ideas on how the community can not just recover from the earthquake, but can change and grow.

    The leaders of this community, the teachers and everyone who work with the young people are giving them the opportunity to hear new ideas, to question religion, tradition and culture, and to choose a new pathway for the community.  While it was the coldest showers in the world, we worked for a week with the warmest people.

    What a great way to end my 2015 on the field.

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  • Quaking (With Laughter And Learning) in Bhaktapur!

    CAC perennial volunteer Graham Bradford writes about his week in Bhaktapur, Nepal with Childreach Nepal.

    December 16th 2015. Coaches Across Continents Founder,  Nick and 5 year returning volunteer Graham began a two week program with partner organization Childreach Nepal (CRN) in the historic and ancient city of Bhaktapur, a hour’s ride east of Kathmandu.  CRN is an organization with a holistic philosophy and approach to helping Nepali children realize their potential despite widespread poverty, and work in areas of education, child protection, health and enterprise.  The organization had been at the forefront of relief work and emergency shelter provision following the disastrous earthquake of April 2015, particularly in the mountainous region of Sindhupalchok, north of Kathmandu and where the CAC coaches would travel next week.

    Whilst not as badly affected as other areas, the earthquake caused significant damage across the city, including some of the wonderful historic temples in the immediate proximity to our accommodation. Houses on both sides of the hotel were essentially destroyed, although it was amazing and humbling to see families in the rubble seeking to rebuild brick-by-brick and at the same time surviving day-to-day hardships of poverty and increasingly cold nights. Following a first night of restlessness caused by fighting dogs and 5AM puja bells, Nick and G somehow managed to sleep through a 4.2 Richter scale aftershock which we are sure was a great concern to those having to live in already damaged homes.

    Working with a city center school badly affected by the earthquake, we worked with around 40 young and enthusiastic people and 5 local teachers across a program addressing locally pertinent issues, and particularly child trafficking and child rights. The young leaders worked out of temporary classrooms as the main school building, whilst still standing, was structurally unsafe.  This limited the area available to run the On-Field elements of the program, but did not prevent an active, energetic and noisy week of games and Self Directed Learning progressing to a boisterous conclusion.

    The program in Bhaktapur coincided with World Aids Day and gave a perfect platform to address the issues facing the young people through a series of fun but educational and informative games based around the dangers of HIV and good choices that can be made to reduce the risk of infection. Whilst the students ranged from as young as 12 years of age, they approached the issues with openness and maturity, a credit to their community and the work of CRN with the school, particularly our partner workers Prateek and Animika who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and in front of stage to ensure an efficient program.

    Bhaktapur remains a city in the early stages of recovery, a recovery not helped by a dramatic fall in visitor income since the earthquake, however the energy and resilience of our young leaders will make that recovery a more likely outcome in the months and years ahead.

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  • CAC Run UN Youth Leadership Sessions

    June 15th 2015. Today, Coaches Across Continents is running sessions at the UN Youth leadership summit at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida. The summit, which has brought together 60 youth leaders in sport for development, takes place over two weeks. It was organized by the United Nations Office on Sport for Development and Global Action Initiatives who invited CAC to help. It involves an intense schedule of high level seminars, athlete talks and cross-cultural learning. The youth leaders will return to their community with a greater knowledge of sport for development and be able to share their learning with colleagues and youth.

    On Sunday June 14th CAC ran sessions as part of the public festival which was open to everyone in the community. This involved running CAC games with groups of children throughout the day alongside NSCAA coaching and sessions from Partner of the Americas. Today is the soccer day at the summit. This means that the 60 youth leaders will be shown CAC games and learn how soccer can be used to create social change in their community.

    In addition, three youth leaders from CAC’s international partners are attending the convention in Florida. Sylvester from training4Changes in South Africa, Prateek from Childreach International in Nepal and Soky from Globalteer in Cambodia have all flown to Florida for the convention. They are able to attend because of their connection with CAC and the forward-thinking of their organization. As a result of attending, the organizations they belong too will benefit from their increased knowledge and global outlook.

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  • International Women’s Day with Childreach Nepal

    March 12th 2015. CAC monitoring and evaluation and curriculum development strategist Sophie Legros spent International Women’s Day with our partners Childreach Nepal.

    Following International Women’s Day weekend, our 74 partners have been sharing stories about their Women’s Day celebrations and the impact they are having in their communities promoting gender equality through sport. We continue to be amazed by our partners’ creativity. International Women’s Day initiatives included football matches, weekend events, multiple day tournaments involving both girls and boys teams, presentations and workshops related to gender equality awareness, and fashion shows.

    For my part, I was able to celebrate International Women’s Day at the beautiful Yangrima School with the familiar faces of last year’s participating students (you can read more about last year’s training here). After a brief discussion about why we celebrate International Women’s Day, the students selected games they wanted to play to address gender equality.

    We started the session with Circle of Friends Partners, where students yelled out various Women’s Rights – right to freedom, right to education, etc. After fun games of Old Trafford Tag and Mingle Mingle, students played Marta for Gender Equity to address ways in which women and girls are excluded from the community and solutions to increase women and girls’ participation. Having thought extensively about this issue in December, players were quick to identify various solutions that could be implemented in their community – participation in sports, awareness programs, or education. To conclude the session, we played Pairs Scrimmage, where girls and boys were paired together and had to cooperate. Overall, it was an exciting session thanks to the students’ knowledge of Sport for Social Impact and their familiarity with the games.

    The full day journey to Sindapulchowk on mountainous, bumpy roads was entirely worthwhile. Apart from the breathtaking views, it was a pleasure to see the students again and witness the strides that have been made. Students were more comfortable with the games and with expressing themselves within the group, they exhibited more confidence and I was astonished at how much their football level had increased since December, especially the girls’. Their technical skills had noticeably improved, as well as their vision of where to pass the ball, and they managed to impose themselves when playing with boys.

    One reason for this is that the boys’ team captain has taken it upon himself to train the girls. At the end of the session where both boys and girls were involved, we discussed the importance of boys also advocating for gender equality and supporting female participation in sport as part of the HeforShe campaign and movement. Boys and girls gladly took pictures to show their support for Women’s Day.

    I could not have had imagined a better way to celebrate International Women’s Day! What did you do for International Women’s Day? Tell us in the comments below.

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