• I Like Chicken

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    January 21, 2013.  It’s hard to believe that it has already been a week since the three of us landed here in Leogane, Haiti. Even though just last Saturday we were at home in the US, the sounds of the early morning clatter here at camp and the moto horns blaring on the nearby road seem normal. Our week has been packed with morning sessions with the coaches followed by afternoons playing with the kids at the 4 GOALS Haiti sites.

    Every morning here we gather for a brief meeting with 15-20 coaches about the day’s games and what we learned at the session prior. The coaches have really committed to the messages about conflict resolution, gender equity, health and wellness, and skills for life. A lot of it has been an on-field discussion about how GOALS Haiti coaches can make a bigger impact through their roles as mentors and coaches for the kids here in Leogane.

    The level of soccer here is competitive. With or without shoes, boys and girls dazzle with their grit and share of flashy moves.

    photo (2)In the first week we’ve taught more than 20 games during which the coaches have learned the difference between coaching soccer and coaching soccer for social impact. The   GOALS coaches play a large role in the kids’ lives, and the games they are learning from Coaches Across Continents are helping to make their influence a hugely positive one. The biggest compliment the CaC team received was passing by the soccer fields and seeing that the GOALS coaches have already chosen on their own to use the games they’ve learned in the morning sessions during their afternoon practices with the kids. These games do more than just build soccer skill; they teach the kids and coaches life and thinking skills. One coach, Gatuso, told Nick, “You have given me my brain”. Gatuso, along with other coaches, appreciate and enjoy that the games stimulate their problem solving skills, creative and responsible thinking, as well as teach lessons that are much more fun to talk about on the field than in the classroom.

    On friday, the coaches taught the group of Adebayor against HIV games, including Condom Tag, Can You See HIV?, and other games that encourage making smart choices to avoid the virus. This session had a real impact on the coaches and opened their eyes to the ways in which they can have these types of educational conversations on the field in a fun and safe setting.

    Yesterday, Cheta and Marie got the chance to sit in on Jolinda’s English class with one of GOALS Haiti girl groups. It was fun being able to ask questions of them and vice versa, singing silly songs, and reviewing past lessons. Our favorite song of all was “I Like Chicken” during which the girls yelled “I LIKE CHICKEN! I LIKE CHICKEN! YES I DO, YES I DO! DO YOU LIKE IT?” over and over again. Don’t be fooled by the lyrics, the tune was super catchy.

    In other musical news, the local coaches have added “Barbie Girl” to the long list of nicknames they have for Marie. With Nick and Jolinda’s encouragement they began singing “I’m A Barbie Girl” to Marie during Fridays session. Cheta primarily goes by “Sauce” or “Chantel” while Marie is typically called “Bubbs” or “Rice”….get it? Sauce and Rice?

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    The accommodations here are very nice, wooden huts, outdoor showers and electricity for parts of the day and Jolinda and Kona are taking good care of us. Except for the spider the size of Nick’s head in Marie and Cheta’s bunk house last night, everything is clean and very pleasant here at camp. The devastation and poverty in Haiti is heartbreaking of course, but the country itself is beautiful, the kids and coaches are awesome, and Nick’s immature jokes and fun games are keeping them all entertained and learning. We will be very sad to leave this place and these people in a week’s time. See you back in the states then!

  • Our Last Program is Positively Different – It’s Netball Time!

    Naz 2012 dDecember 11th, 2012:

    Coaches Across Continents (CAC) has just finished our last program of the year, this one with Naz India. We could not have ended the year on a more positive note. One of our biggest principles at Coaches Across Continents is to promote female empowerment. We insist that our partner programs work with girls and bring female coaches into our training session. The Naz India program is different, in that they work exclusively with girls in the three cities of Mumbai, Delhi, and Chennai.

    Girls at specific sites register for a ten-month program that includes classroom sessions of the GOAL curriculum, plus netball training. Yes, you read that right. Coaches Across Continents has now worked with its first non-football related program. Despite some minor differences between the two sports and being allowed to use your hands, netball (and almost any team sport) is very similar to soccer. All of our games translate easy to other disciplines, which allowed our partnership with Naz India to happen and be such a success this year.

    Both Naz India and Coaches Across Continents use the GOAL curriculum, which was championed by Standard Chartered Bank and developed in the classroom by Women Win and the field by CAC. Now with this first year of our partnership, these two elements have been combined. We had 35 coaches (almost exclusively 14-16 year old girls) participate in the training so that they can use the CAC on-field GOAL curriculum next year alongside the classroom curriculum.Naz 2012 b

    The reason for our almost exclusively female coaching participants is part of Naz India’s sustainability model. Girls who show promise and have finished the Goal Program can turn around in the next year and serve as the peer coaches, earning leadership positions and continued confidence in their abilities. After our last month around India, seeing many cultural difference which limit the ways in which girls dress, participate in sports, and engage in society, it was refreshing to see a group of girls that show confidence in themselves and power in their own abilities. Across the country the Goal Program educates 1,000 girls, with that number expected to double in 2013.

    We are thrilled that our 2012 year ended on such a positive note. A special thanks to all our partner programs for inviting us to their communities this year, plus all the coaches who worked for Coaches Across Continents. We look forward to starting strong in six weeks when we begin our first program in Haiti! If you want to be a part of the fun on the field, please contact us!

    “Naz India has been implementing Goal since the last 6 years using sport and life skills as 2 strategies and building the confidence in young girls. However, through the CAC training we realize the powerful value of integrating sport and the social messages. The Naz coaches benefited immensely from the CAC training; they learned simple and fun ways to deliver critical messages to young people!”

    –          Kalyani Subramanyam, National Coordinator, Goal India

  • Visiting Nico’s Stomping Grounds – Chamwino, Tanzania

    November 29th, 2012: Our CAC team could sense the excitement flowing from Nico as we approached Chamwino after a long bus ride from Geita. Arriving in Dodoma, immediately we were greeted by the hustle in the streets and the constant activity in the capital city of Tanzania. Chamwino is a small rural town located about 30 km outside Dodoma and it was the setting for our third Coaches Across Continents program this year. Chamwino is also the town where Nico spends time working with the local teachers teaching sport for development as well as with his girls team who are improving very quickly.  Last year a team of CAC coaches began the hat trick initiative in Chamwino while working with the Capital Teachers college to educate teachers and coaches on using football for change as well as with a young female team who were eager to acquire new football and life skills.

    In Chamwino. Nico once again showed how instrumental he is in the partnership with CAC as he ensured that before starting any program on the field that the CAC team would meet and greet a plethora of government officials, sports personnel and education officers. It felt redundant to repeat over again our individual backgrounds highlighting the role of football in each of our lives, however, with each reaction from the listener it became apparent that our stories were shaping the perspective for many in regards to females in sport as well as the importance of education and sport.

    For five days the CAC team delivered a program to local teachers, all of which had shown great interest in using sport to engage the youth. The coaches were very receptive of the program, often asking questions about the games, the skills taught and the relevance to their communities. CAC taught many of the typical first year games covering various themes and mixed in a handful of GOAL games that speak to issues such as financial literacy, communication skills, self-esteem and setting goals.

    The last day CAC challenged the teachers to design their own games addressing issues relevant to their communities. The games were dynamic and each reflected pieces of GOAL games, however, with an added from the local teachers. For example, one group designed a game on environmental awareness and used the Sawa’s Rights game as the skeleton but adapted it to better suit the needs of the topic and the audience. Another group chose to focus on ways to earn money while the last two taught focused on drug abuse and malaria prevention. Some of the coaches also had the opportunity to begin teaching the games in the afternoon when CAC trained a team of young female footballers who were eager to develop new skills and to train with a group of foreign female coaches.

    Nico has shown again the importance of a program being embedded in the community. The CAC program was not just presented to the teachers and youth in the on the field program but also to the majority of education and sports officials who are working in both Dodoma and Chamwino. Making these connections within the community is fundamental to the sustainability of the program and judging by the reactions of many of the officials, there is an overall strong sense of appreciation for the work that CAC is doing and understanding that the knowledge given should be spread to more teachers, coaches and youth.

  • Nico leads in Geita, Tanzania

    November 27, 2012: It was a week of battling the elements for Marisa, Emily, and Melanie in Geita, Tanzania! The trio spent the week transitioning inside and outside of classrooms in unison with the rain, and spent a day in bed after coming down with food poisoning one night. This unfortunate event actually turned into the highlight of the week, as their Tanzanian coordinator Nico was able to take over the program for the day Nico was CAC’s first contact in Africa in 2008, and has been crucial to the program’s success in not just Tanzania, but all over the world. More than well equipped with three plus years of experience with the CAC curriculum, he was able to mix in some of his own coaching pointers so that the 36 Geita coaches never skipped a beat.

    The girls were able to pick up right where they left off, though they avoided the vegetable curry for the remainder of their stay. The last day of the program also provided a good deal of memories, as Nico was able to coordinate with the Executive Director to get his
    signature on the coaches’ certificates. Upon arriving at the field for the closing ceremony, the staff was thrilled to find the group of girls they had trained in the afternoon all week hard at work with one of the program’s third-year coaches. Marisa, Emily, and Melanie were each given a beautiful blue patterned “kanga” fabric as a parting
    gift, and were sad to say goodbye when the time came for the bus to
    depart.

  • Third Year with Play Soccer Zambia in Lusaka

    August 9, 2012: A week after finishing up its first year program with the Bulldogs Sports Development Trust in Zimbabwe, Coaches Across Continents set off for Lusaka to work with Play Soccer Zambia for the third consecutive year.  Seventeen coaches representing seven different compounds of Lusaka attended training sessions over the course of the week, some who were old friends of CAC and some who were new. Regardless of their coaching experience there was a lot to learn in a short period of time, as CAC spent the week introducing the staff to a host of new games and coaching concepts.  Thursday’s session focused specifically on games that educate children about safe ways to spend and save their money, a part of CAC’s new initiative called Kicking for Change. In addition to introducing the Play Soccer staff to CAC’s new games, the coaches also participated in discussions about the qualities of a good coach and what makes practice fun. These conversations were especially valuable to the younger coaches and will help Play Soccer tweak their own curriculum in ways that will increase participation and the level of activity at their training sessions.

    Following a quick break for lunch, the coaches were able to spend the afternoon with the Play Soccer staff at their individual sites. Emmy and Melanie really enjoyed jumping into a competitive game of possession with Moses’ group at Kalingalinga and playing human tug of war with the kids at the Kamanga site. It was especially fun for Brian to visit these sites as well, as he spent time working with Moses and Edith, the site managers of Kalingalinga and Kamanga in 2010. These sites were noticeably thriving and it was great to see the environment that has grown in the last two years as a result of extremely passionate and committed coaches. These sites had well over 100 kids and just a few soccer balls to go around, but managed to keep everyone organized and active for over two hours of fun. While the Play Soccer curriculum is only designed to meet twice a week, the success of the Kalingalinga site has led them to train every day. While 2012 is the last year that CAC will be working with Play Soccer Zambia, the enthusiasm of the coaches both old and new guarantees that things will continue to go well in Lusaka!

  • A Week of Fun with Bulldogs Sports Development Trust. Manhenga, Zimbabwe

    August 7th, 2012: Coaches Across Continents wrapped up a 9-day stay in Manhenga, a village an hour and a half outside of Zimbabwe’s capital city. Partnered with the Bulldogs Sports Development Trust, CAC was able to present 96 local coaches and teachers with certificates of completion on the program’s final day at Wayerera Secondary School. It was an exciting day for everyone in attendance, made even more memorable by the arrival of a representative from the governor’s office. Clips from the closing ceremony (including an exclusive interview with Brian!) made it to the Zimbabwe National evening news, which was the first time that the national news had ever visited the area. We were also the first foreigners to stay in the village and we were as honored to be there as they were to host us!

    This trip was CAC’s first time working with the Bulldogs Sports Development Trust, an organization based in Harare that promotes a variety of sports, including soccer, basketball, netball, (field) hockey, and swimming in ten different rural villages. Bulldogs has recently made it a priority to increase the number of female coaches in their program and CAC was thrilled with the opportunity to work with so many women. It was great to see how the female coaches, ranging from 16 to over 60 years old, grew in confidence over the course of the 6-day program, becoming more vocal with each passing day. Emmy and Melanie particularly enjoyed being part of a discussion about whether or not the women should wear athletic shorts while coaching!

    One of the highlights of this program was the festival of traditional games that took place on the Saturday before we left. Beginning around noon we were introduced to a number of traditional children’s games, which reminded us of a mix of jacks, cricket, dodge ball, and pickle. The day ended with a big dance competition hosted by a DJ who handed out prizes to the winners from each age group. Watching their moves confirmed that we should all stick with coaching soccer!

    The coaches we worked with over the course of the week were a lot of fun to get to know and extremely receptive to our curriculum. They demonstrated their interest in learning about how sport can aid in the social development of their communities, asking lots of questions about our games and the way we teach them. Both CAC and Bulldogs are excited about this new partnership and look forward to CAC’s return to Manhenga next year!