• The CAC Partner Experience

    August 5th 2016. Kebby Shampongo, founder of CAC partner Malalo Sports Foundation, discusses the impact of the partnership on Malalo and the communities they serve in the Copperbelt of Zambia.

    Coach’  – I usually go by Rubén-
    – Yes?
    -‘Could I rest a little bit today before we start?
    -No problem. Everything OK? – He had sleepy eyes and a pale face.
    – I worked the night shift at the mine, but I wanted to come!

    Some of us just continue yielding, happy and without resistance, to the gravitational power of the Ball. After a week full of great commitment gestures and deep and transforming learning in Chingola, Zambia, we talked to our friends of Malalo Sports, a Sports for Social Impact Organization based in Chililabombwe, to discover together how their unique Pathway with CAC will look. With their vision set on evolution and reaching youth nationwide, they shared with us how their work, in partnership with CAC, has impacted the communities of Chililabombwe and Chingola, where they currently focus their operations:

    “The Malalo Sports Foundation has significantly improved in using sports for social change in Chililabombwe and Chingola. It has been three years of great partnership with CAC and Malalo Sports Foundation. Before the partnership with Coaches Across Continents, as a coach and Director of the Foundation, I could not figure out how we could meet the challenges that our young people were facing such as:

    1. Alcohol Abuse
    2. Environmental challenges (trash-Bottles and plastics)
    3. Conflict.

    I have been coaching for years before becoming an administrator. Some of my players play football for local professional teams and international teams across Africa. However some of the boys and girls would not attain the highest level of sporting, moral excellence and community leadership. The partnership with CAC three years ago came at the right time as Malalo Sports Foundation (MSF) collaborates with over 75 coaches from the two communities to use football as a tool for social change. The collaboration has impacted over 5,000 children and young people in our communities. The community leaders and coaches now have been able to deliver the CAC curriculum to the communities and children. We have seen a drastic reduction in the abuse of alcohol, coaches are able to create a safe working environment for the children while internal sporting/community conflicts are being solved by the participants (children and youths). Coaches and teams from local organizations and schools have appealed to our leadership to work closely with CAC and devise innovative ways on how we can replicate this model to other communities.

    It has been a great experience for us to learn from CAC staff and volunteers drawn from diverse backgrounds and cultures over the last three years and we would recommend that we explore future collaborations. We believe sustained relationship with CAC shall highly benefit the people of Zambia . I would also like to salute you for your constant engagement and support. We at MSF have a lot of room to learn and improve even from other communities that CAC serve globally.

    I would also like to salute my team (Able Chewe and Philimon Chitalu) for their tireless efforts despite running on a shoe string budget.

    Sporting wishes to you all.

    Love, peace and harmony”

    We not only desire that they manifest all of their intentions and achieve their goals, but CAC will walk next to them, mentoring, facilitating and serving their purpose.
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  • 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.

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  • Three Cheers for Avocados

    July 27, 2014. CAC volunteer Layla Joudeh blogs on working in Zambia.  After walking into our hotel in Chingola, Zambia, I quickly learned that hotel doesn’t mean working toilets, sinks, or showers. Trying to use a water source in the hotel was like a fun game of “guess whether this bathroom appliance will work today” except our personal hygiene was at stake- so more like a smelly, not so fun guessing game. Fortunately for us and everyone within a 5 ft radius of us, our sink worked fairly regularly and the shower would come through at least every other day. And so began my fifth week in southern Africa.

    The work week began on a sunny Monday morning (shout out to the dry season for all this wonderful sunshine). Kebby and Able, our hosts from Malalo Sports, were in the taxi that picked us up from the hotel, and we were off to the soccer field. We worked with Kebby and his friend Able for the two weeks we were in northern Zambia. Kebby and Able were excited to have us working in their community and wanted us to feel at home. They arranged all our transportation, organized participants and venues, and paid attention to the details. And the small details they paid attention made all the difference for me. For one, they always made sure we were hydrated with sweet Zambian water. I mean who doesn’t like to have a steady supply of water while coaching? But Kebby and Able went beyond hydration- they actually were getting to know us on a personal level. There was one day during the week when I didn’t feel too well. I didn’t think much of it and planned to sleep it off the following night. I was carrying on a conversation with Kebby on that same day, and he stopped the conversation to ask if I was feeling alright. It was such a simple question that made me want to give Kebby a huge hug. After meeting so many different people in the past few weeks, it was unbelievably comforting to know that Kebby had taken the time to pay attention to the people with which he was working regardless of the number of participants he had to help organize.

    With partners like Kebby and Able looking out for us, it was much easier to focus on coaching. Working with Adam, Charlie, Jamie, and Tim is a whole lot of fun. There was a perfect balance of planning ahead and improvising, making fun of me and making fun of Adam, working together and giving each other the space to lead our own games. We bonded well which helped contribute to my comfort as a coach. Our teamwork on the field made my job a bit easier and more effective. I was more confident because of the three previous weeks of coaching, and I was more familiar with the CAC curriculum. Turns out- coaching is really fun when I actually had a solid grasp on what I was doing.

    You know what else is fun? Eating. Meal time was one of my favorite parts of the week. Adam, Charlie, Jamie, Tim, and I usually ate lunch and dinner together. We discovered that we had easy access to avocado or as Jamie calls it- nature’s butter. So lunch and often dinner consisted of avocado and cheese. Something as simple as an avocado made me look forward to lunch and sitting around a little table while cats watched us eat. We often ended up mentioning ice cream in our conversation. Our ice cream conversations led us to have an ice cream party on Thursday night. We bought a tub of ice cream and five spoons then gathered in Tim and Jamie’s room. I still can’t decide if the ice cream was good because we really wanted it to be good or because it was actually quality ice cream. Either way- huge thanks to ice cream for being awesome.

    Speaking of awesome….we even had good wifi in Chingola. In my last blog post, I was thanking my lack of wifi for helping me connect with my environment. However, five weeks of being away from home made wifi a sweet, sweet cure to the homesickness that was creeping in. Contrary to my first week with CAC, I used wifi to share my new experiences rather than stay connected to everything that was happening with friends and family back at home. This change in my internet usage was a subtle reminder that with time, I was becoming more and more comfortable with my environment. As my last blog post predicted (however doubtful I was when I wrote it)- the adventure with CAC has continued and I’ve learned a thing or two. For one- Jamie is right- avocados are nature’s butter. The second thing I’ve learned (because clearly I’ve only learned two things on this trip)- my fellow coaches and our partner programs can make me feel at home even when home is hours away.

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