• The Ultimate Challenge of the Perpetual Social Impact Machine

    November 30th, 2017. Second-time Global Citizen, JK Cho, writes about his experience on-field with Coaches Across Continents and ChildReach Nepal, along with the complexities of change.

    A perpetual motion machine is a hypothetical device that repeats a certain motion indefinitely without an energy source. You might have seen a windmill-looking device in a physics book, which has bearing balls rolling around inside of the wheel or bearing balls swinging attached to the outer side of the wheel. That is called a “mass leverage” device, one of the most famous failures in the effort of inventing a perpetual motion machine. Since the Middle Ages, out of a desire to achieve an everlasting engine without burning fuel, countless efforts made by scientists to create this self-sustaining closed system have failed. The idea is impossible because it violates a couple of the laws of physics – the first or second law of thermodynamics. In simple words, it cannot close the loop because it loses energy gradually due to gravity and friction. The machine will eventually stop.

    You can see CAC’s mission parallels to it in that the organization wants to help create social movements that sustain and evolve independently without a need for consistent help and influence from the western world. The organization refuses to do a one-time, feel-good “volun-tour” work and leave. Each visit is dedicated to design and install a perpetual social impact engine in a community’s needs and concerns, using its own assets. Once it picks up the pace, it is supposed to work free and creates their own organic results. Just like a perpetual motion device cannot ignore the physical laws, there is a natural drag as well as intentional resistance in the process of CAC’s work.

    This week’s partner, Child Reach Nepal is one of the most admirable charity partners that I have worked with through CAC. With transformational leaders like Prateek, Shamsher, and the rest of the team who truly care and devote their lives to their community, Child Reach Nepal has brought tremendous positive impact to its children. In spite of the notoriously wide daily temperature range and dusty air in the mountain, the program in Sindhupalchok went stellar. Everyone was sincerely participatory with an eager to learn and grow. We learned that female social inclusion in sports and outdoor activities had been one of the major issues in Sindupalchok based schools. The girls said they wanted to play sports with boys, but they were afraid and not invited. We had a great discussion on it with men and women together and separately. It was bought up that women were doing more physical work in the community such as carrying on their backs an A-frame carrier full of heavy items. Everyone agreed girls could be as strong, tough, and athletically intelligent as boys if they had an equal opportunity. Some even said it’s the society and tradition that boxes and limits roles and behaviors in gender.

    And then, one thing did not sit well with me happened. Immediately after the discussion, I heard there was going to be a friendly football match, and the bet was a 6kg of chicken meat. Guess what happened. All the talk that we just had evaporated instantly. People were recruiting the best players on their teams. As long as I witnessed, no one asked the girls to play for the match. One team even recruited these new faces who had never shown up in the program. I have to say we all were way into winning, playing a competitive, “real” match, or at least winning kilos of chicken meat. The school girls were automatically excluded and also seemed to not even want to play. They knew it would turn out an intense, heated battle. Everybody including me failed in walking the talk.

    Almost 20 years ago, the UN made a commitment to achieving gender parity in executive roles by the year 2000. In 2016, with a 16 year overdue, less than one in three director-level positions within the organization were women. Despite the former secretary general Ban Ki-moon’s regular assertions of progress in appointing women to high office, an 84% of his appointments to top posts in 2015 were male. The unconformable truth we have here is that, for chicken meat, natural competitiveness, or whatever reasons, our words don’t always translate into action. Even the world largest and most powerful intergovernmental organization cannot ignore the drag and friction.

    The ultimate challenge of creating a self-sustaining impact model is the action part. CAC brilliantly employs the Self-Directed Learning (SDL) principle and Community Impact Coaches (CIC) network to increase the propulsion and reduce the resistance of the motion. SDL style provides the sustainable nature, promoting the spirit of taking initiative in constant self-reflection and transformation. CICs are selected and trained local agent coaches who are capable of running a program locally on behalf of CAC without any cultural, language, physical, and distance barriers. Talking about the closed loop system! Another thing that I have faith in is CAC coaches’ rock-solid integrity. It’s the strong consistency and cohesiveness that are needed to make words straight into action and results. The coaches that I have worked with are special individuals living up to their belief and leading by examples, inspiring the communities to take action now and be the change.

    In recent years, big corporations also started creating a closed loop system to be more self-sustainable. One of the world largest fast fashion brands, H&M, has just adopted the closed loop garment production system – they collect unwanted and unsold items and give them a new life. Their goal is to eventually get to the point where it does not source new wools and cottons. The possibility to invent a perfect self-sustaining system seems still questionable, however, the efforts around it did make tangible and meaningful results. Turbines and engines have gotten more efficient than ever, recycling has become such big part of production in the manufacturing industry, and CAC started sending fewer western people and use more indigenous human resources for global social impact. We already have the keys in us to the ultimate challenge – forward/long-term thinking, pure intention, and cohesive character. We just have to live and die by them, and then changes will come as byproducts.

     

  • Changing Lives Through Sports

    November 24th, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Shamsher, writes about his experience working alongside Coaches Across Continents as a partner with ChildReach Nepal and a new member of the Community Impact Coach Initiative on-field with Go Sports Nepal

    There are many organization that works with CAC in partnership, among them Childreach Nepal is one of them who uses sports as a tool to educate children outside of classroom. In 2016 I attended CAC training as a participant with Mark Gabriel the Self-Directed Learning Coach on-field. I was an intern during that time and later on I was selected for the Training and Monitoring Officer position at ChildReach Nepal. Fortunately this year also I got a chance to work with Mark Gabriel again and learn from his coaching skills because I was inspired by them. In the two week program with Childreach Nepal at two different districts Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk Mark Gabriel and Ashlyn Hardie saw my coaching abilities and improvements. They offered me to join CAC team as Community Impact Coach to deliver training to the Go Sports Nepal program in Kathmandu. I was extremely happy when I heard that and I am also really grateful for the offer that was provided to me. Go Sports Nepal is also a partner of Coaches Across Continents who uses the sport for development methodology.

    Most of the participants were from different fields like NGO’s, local schools, football coaches, the Women’s National Team Rugby Coach, and local male and female football players. As the youngest participant, everyone was asking me how I became a coach at the age of just 23. I was little bit nervous on the first day but I tried to hide my nervousness and showed my confidence. When I was leading the game “Say No to Child Labor”, which I adapted from “Say No to Trafficking”, in the last round of the game I introduced a policeman to catch the broker and a player who represented a policeman came to me and he wanted to take picture with me in the middle of game. I told him to go and catch a tagger who represented a broker in the community….but he was said “No no please, one photo with you”. I was laughing at him, still he was ignoring me and wants to take a photo. That was one of the most unique parts for me.

    Since, I am from local organization there are lots of possibility to work together in the upcoming future thanks to the networking that CAC initiated. I also networked with some other local organizations and schools that will be fruitful in the coming days. For example, mid-week after the training I went to Football stadium ANFA with Mark and Ashlyn to watch live game between NEPAL and Philippines for the Asian Cup Qualifier game which was also one of the highlighted part of the week! On the next day after the training we visited Vajra Academy, a Green School in Kathmandu, which took 1.5 hours bus ride from field. The school is little bit far from the main city and it has been doing great work such as aware people on different issues that they are facing in the community and also provided opportunities for students and villagers to maintain quality of life in the future. We then also discussed the possibilities of collaborating and working together in the coming days. At the end of program I sang a song “Che Che Cooley” and dance with all participants which was superb ending!

    This was an amazing week for me. I got a chance to lead many sessions and give feedback to other coaches through coach-backs, which has made me a role-model for them. I am very thankful to Mark Gabriel, Ashlyn Hardie, Ian and JK for giving me a chance to become CIC and helping me to become better coach. Personally, I would like to thank especially Mark Gabriel for starting the opportunity and networking with Vajra Academy. I look forward to working with CAC again in the future.

     

     

     

  • Believe In Sport, Invest In People

    November 22nd, 2017. Watson Fellow from Bard College, Harry Johnson working with Jungle Crows Foundation, writes about  joining us in our partnership with ChildReach Nepal in Dolakha. 

    I like to call myself a believer, but I wasn’t always one. Growing up in a low-income, single-parent household, it didn’t matter that I had good grades and stayed out of trouble; going to college was always much more of a dream than a reality. My coaches never seemed to see the world the way I did. They always seemed to have this odd fascination with “Life” and used every available opportunity to talk about it. It didn’t matter if a player’s grades had dropped, someone had missed practice or just simply messed up in a drill, the lesson following always seemed to leave the realm of what it took to be a great basketball player. You see, my coaches knew my community. They understood my slang; they knew where to get the best haircut in town and what things negatively affect the lives of youth on the daily basis. They were from my world. A world in which hope is hard to come by and struggle was even harder to escape. They knew who I was, where I was from, but believed sports had the ability to change this kid’s life forever. This kid being me, of course.

    Now, months after graduating from Bard College I am traveling the world searching for innovative ways in which sports could be used to combat a range of social issues. Through the first 3 months of my trip one theme has stood out above the rest and made me question the sports evangelistic views I once held. Through my first three months I have become more of a believer in the power of people than in sport itself. My trip to Dolakha, Nepal with Coaches Across Continents only further solidified this shift in perception.

    After an exhausting 8-hour bus ride, up the side of a mountain, a group of 12 coaches speaking four languages and representing 3 different organizations (Jungle Crows Foundation, Child Reach Nepal and Coaches Across Continents) sat around a table and attempted to hash out the details of what the first session would look like. I sat and listened to these conversations mostly interested in hearing about the “Self-Directed Learning” curriculum of CAC. Even though I got to see the curriculum put into action every day during the sessions, the dinner table debriefs shed the most light on what “self-direction” truly meant. While the conversation was usually started by Mark and Ashlyn from CAC, the coaches and young leaders from Child Reach Nepal and the Jungle Crows Foundation were pushed to lead the direction of the discussion. The coaches evaluated their own communities, highlighted the salient issues, and both adapted old and created new games that would be used as a vehicle to get youth to think critically about their communities. It was at this table that the coaches welcomed criticism just as much as they did an extra C-momo. While the pictures from the week may highlight how much fun the school-children in Dolakha had during the sessions with CRN, JCF, the moments that weren’t caught on camera were the most important. It was in these moments that CAC could work with its partners to ensure that the smiles you see in the recap picture are sustained for years to come.

    At this point in my Watson journey, it was amazing to have the opportunity to tag along with an organization that believes in sports, but invest in the power of people. It’s amazing because even though I may have been the same person I am today without the game basketball; I know I would not be in the position I am today without my coaches – coaches who could see a reality beyond my immediate circumstance, and coaches who knew how to help me see it for myself. Most importantly, coaches that were personally invested in my community and weren’t going to disappear anytime soon.

     

  • Fun In The Sun

    September 8th 2017. CAC Community Impact Coach Prateek Syangden, from Childreach Nepal, blogs from the Philippines where we are working with Gawad Kalinga

    Coaches Across Continents (CAC) is “the global leaders in sports for social impact”. There are very few organizations that live up to their name, and I would say that CAC has lived up to their name and their game as the global leaders in sports for social impact. I have had the privilege to be associated with CAC for more than four years. In these four years CAC has helped Childreach to be recognized as a leading organization in Nepal that uses the sports for social impact methodology, which has enabled us to reach out to thousands of children in Nepal.

    On the 18th of August I left Nepal for the Philippines, to be a part of the Community Impact Coach program. The next three weeks I would assist CAC Self-Directed Learning strategist Charlie Crawford to run on field programs in three different places and working with different organization in the Philippines. Our first week training was with Gawad Kalinga, a local NGO that uses football as tool to improve the lives of youths and children. We traveled to a small city called Tacloban which was about an hour flight from the capital of Manila. We were warmly greeted by Dennis and Bart who works with GK. The next day we arrived at the AFC village, built jointly by Gawad Kalinga and the Asian Football Confederation after the Typhoon Haiyan, also known as Yolanda in the local language. Haiyan killed more than 10,000 people in the Philippines. The GK village is home to more than 200 families. This reminded me of the 2015 earthquake in Nepal where more than 8,000 people lost their lives. Looking at the work that the AFC was able to do I could imagine the possibilities for the AFC collaborating with a local Nepalese NGO or government bodies to build a similar village for the survivors of the earthquake. The GK/AFC village also provides a safe playing space for the children (football pitch), where we would be working with the local coaches for the next five days.

    The majority of the coaches attending the program were from the long-term partners of CAC, Football4Life. Coming from Nepal a big challenge was the heat and humidity, I started having skin problems from the second day, but that didn’t stop me from being on the field with Charlie. Two things in common with Nepal and Philippines, we are never on time and we eat a lot of rice. The coaches who were late would brag about the Filipino time, something we would do if we were late. The next two weeks will take us to Cebu and Manila, which I am looking forward to.

     

  • 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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