• 7th Year in Kigoma

    May 5, 2014. CAC returns home to the birthplace of our organization – Kigoma, Tanzania. Markus Bensch writes about his experience in Kigoma as he continues his training with Staff member, Sophie Legros. 

    After we finished with our programs in Uganda Sophie and I had one week time to complete the 850 km from Entebbe, Uganda to Kigoma, Tanzania. After we reached Bukoba on Tuesday we went on a 12 hour bus ride to Kigoma on Friday at 6am. It was one of the roughest bus rides for me due to bumpy, gravel roads which even left a bruise on my coccyx as a memory for the following week.

    Coaches having fun during Ronaldo for Health & Wellness

    Coaches having fun during Ronaldo for Health & Wellness

    But the very warm welcome by Mr. Peter Kilalo, the Sports officer, and Mr. Sombwe, the Cultural officer, of the Kigoma Municipality at the bus stop made me quickly forget about it. On Saturday we went to meet all the district school officials and introduce our program to them. Everybody was very excited about our program and a lot of people recognized us as CAC due to our 6 years of lasting cooperation with Kigoma.

    After we had time to rest over the weekend we started on Monday afternoon with 28 coaches and teachers for our first session. The training conditions were very good, because we could use the new pitch which was built in 2011 initiated by CAC. We had a good mix of returning coaches and newcomers. Some of the returning coaches remembered games they learned in the previous years like “Mingle Mingle” or “Ronaldo Skills”.

    Due to the fact that it was our 7th year in Kigoma we could teach them any game from our three year Hat-Trick curriculum. Games like “Tim Howard for Gender Equity” and “Know Your Rights” they enjoyed the most and got very competitive. The first one is a handball game of two teams where they are only allowed to run with the ball at most three steps and the players can score by throwing the ball into the goal. It turned out to be a brilliant problem solving game where the players set up new rules to make the game more enjoyable. The 2nd game is a child rights game where you need fast thinking and quick feet, because the coach is yelling out different child rights which are associated to different corners of the pitch and two team members of each team have to run to the child right that is yelled out first or second respectively. The participants got again very competitive and had a lot of fun and the game caused a lot of confusion which gave us the opportunity to engage them to discuss strategies to solve their problems.

    Coach-backs initiated discussion amongst participants

    Coach-backs initiated discussion amongst participants

    We were positively surprised by the coach-backs on Friday. During the week we weren’t sure if they always understood the games and the social impact of them. During the coach-backs we could see that they really did understand and they even choose the more difficult games like “Can Adebayor see HIV” or “Know your rights” to practice coaching.

    Over all it was a successful week although we faced quite a big fluctuation in the numbers of participants, due to the fact that the teachers had an important meeting on Tuesday afternoon and on Thursday they celebrated the 1st May (Workers’ Day) which caused a reduced numbers of participants on both days. In total we welcomed 39 coaches during the week and we’re looking forward to hear from them about their successes in implementing and adapting the games in their weekly sports classes and football trainings. As mentioned earlier we saw in the coach-backs some very promising examples which make us excited about the future of the partnership with the coaches and teachers in Kigoma.

    By the way the bruise is healed and tomorrow Sophie and I fly from Kigoma to Dar es Salaam, so there should be no risk for bumpy roads and a bruised coccyx.

    After a successful week coaches proudly received their certificates

    After a successful week coaches proudly received their certificates

  • Buwaya: By Foot, Matatu, Boda-Boda, and a Boat

    April 22, 2014. Our third week in Uganda brings us back for a third year to a remote community on the shores of Lake Victoria. CAC staff members Nora Dooley and Markus Bensch join long-time CAC partner and friend, Godfrey Mugisha (Moogy) for a week-long training in Buwaya.

    P1030476Every morning our coaches embarked on the journey across the lake from Entebbe, which involved walking, chasing down a matatu (large group taxi), clambering into a wooden motor-boat, and hopping on a boda-boda (motorbike taxi). Upon finally reaching their destination, our team was met by a bumpy, yet beautiful grass pitch set above a sprawling green backcountry. As the program participants trickled in from all directions, One World Futbols were scattered about, completing the perfect CAC picture.

    The coaches who joined the training this week are not of the typical CAC breed, but represent everything that CAC stands for – the desire to make an impact in your community. They are not from an existing NGO, they do not have a formal football academy, they are not government or municipal workers, but they are people, passionate people who love a game and want to learn. We cannot possibly ask for more.

    P1030432

    We had previously visited this community for two years and a few of this year’s participants were part of those trainings as well. Once we got a feel for the dynamic of the group – knowledge, experience, social issues, and the realities of the resources in Buwaya – we were able to steer the focus of the curriculum in the direction of maximum social impact for this particular group, during this particular week, in this particular community.

    Aside from the usual, worldwide favorites like Mingle Mingle and Condom Tag, this group learned tons of football skills during Ronaldo, Wilshere, Xavi, and Wambach Skills for Life, and had an absolute blast with Touré for Health & Wellness and Falcao for Fun. Touré for Health & Wellness is one of our new games that is quickly becoming a CAC fixture. During this game there are two teams lined up in front of identical grids. The grids are made up of four or five cones – in Buwaya we used four bricks (solve your problem!) – and each cone is assigned a number. The coach yells out a sequence of numbers, maybe starting with two and increasing to four or even five at once, and one player from each team has to touch the cones in that exact order as fast as possible, racing the other player to either an additional cone on the other side of the grid or to one football that they race to shoot. This is a brilliant game for agility and quickness of body and mind – a perfect union of football and social impact, not to mention it’s incredibly fun to play as well as to coach.

    P1030529

    Falcao for Fun is another terrific new game that we ended up playing for an hour with this group… and our CAC staff jumped in – we couldn’t let the participants have that much fun without us! In this game there are two teams lined up by the “posts” or bricks of two goals that are close together. This was a smaller group so we played 2 v. 2 but it can be played 3 v. 3 or 4 v. 4. If one of the teams scores or if the ball crosses the other team’s end-line, then the shooting team stays and two new players come on with the ball from the side that was shot on. This game is FAST and rewards shooting and quick decisions, as the next two players have to be ready with a ball pending a shot from the opposing team. And the group in Buwaya absolutely ate it up – maybe it’s the answer to African football… stop passing/dancing and SHOOT. Who knows?

    After the program our team stayed the night in tents across the lake instead of returning to Entebbe. A fun experience for our staff, but moreover it was a gesture of friendship and gratitude that was deeply appreciated by the entire community. Although this is a third-year program, CAC will be returning to Uganda and will hopefully be able to fit in a quick matatu/boat/boda-boda adventure to pay a visit to our friends in Buwaya.

    P1030519

  • Mubangyizi’s First Week With CAC

    Markus Bensch, from nearby Dresden, Germany, joins CAC in April, 2014 – beginning his on-field training in Uganda with senior staff member Nora Dooley.

    IMG_0881Let me say this first: It was a brilliant first week with Coaches Across Continents and our partner Mbarara Soccer Academy (MSA) in Uganda. Nora gave me a very good first introduction into the work of an On‑Field‑Coach and we were hosted by the very welcoming and warm-hearted family of Salim Blanden who is one of our Community Impact Coaches (CIC).

    I left Germany on Saturday 29th March and when I said “Good Bye” to my parents and my brother George at the Berlin airport my new adventure started. I was excited, but after my arrival I felt for the first few days quickly pitchforked into a survival modus. My body and my psyche were not used anymore to the African heat, food and living conditions. My stomach rebelled, my body felt weak and I wanted to sleep a lot. After 2 months in Germany I had to get used to using holes for toilets and taking a bucket shower. But my physical condition quickly got better as soon we moved on the football pitch.

    After a very rainy Tuesday including a thunderstorm, we finally could start with our first-year program on Wednesday. We welcomed over 30 coaches and they get very quickly into it. After we did the baseline questionnaire we started with Circle of Friends and trained the Ronaldo Skills. The two main aims for the week were to let the coaches experience the idea of self-directed learning and to let them understand what it means to solve their own problems. All our games are based on these two principles so the coaches had many chances to learn how to put them into practice.

    As with most of the groups they liked our “Mingle Mingle” game very much. The coaches are dancing in the “Mingle Mingle” rhythm and have to get together in different numeric groups depending on which number the coach shouts. After the first few rounds when there was pushing and pulling we discussed this behavior and agreed that it is important to make our own decisions and let others decide too if they want to join a group or not. We even took this game further and didn’t allow the coaches to speak anymore so they experienced and practiced different ways of (non-verbal) communication like hand signs, eye contact and body language. It was a very fun way of learning different solutions and the importance of communication and to respect the freedom and independence of the other person. P1030072

    One of the most successful games in this week was “Adebayor Makes Good Choices”. This game focuses on good choices that can protect from getting HIV. Many good decisions like being faithful, using a condom when having sex, getting tested and getting educated protects from the HI-Virus. The more good choices somebody makes the better he/she is protected. After we brainstormed many good choices we played the game “Keep away” where the players in the outside circle try to keep the ball away from the one or two players in the middle who represented the HI-Virus. Every player on the outside who touched the ball yelled out one good choice that protects from getting HIV. Later during the review the coaches came up with the idea to modify this game and address the problem of corruption. On Saturday morning one group developed ideas about good choices that can be made to prevent corruption. Again the players on the outside yelled out phrases like honesty, don’t take and don’t pay bribes, education or transparency. The players in the circle represented corrupt lawyers, policemen or politicians. That was a perfect example of self-directed learning and solving your own problems. We as coaches were impressed from the creativity of the coaches and it was the best reward we could get from the group. If groups develop their own games we know we’ve done a good job.

    We’re sure that our training has an impact in the daily work of the coaches and we already look forward to next year so we can see the development in the coaching skills of our participants. By the end of the week I got baptized on the name Mubangyizi which is in the local language Lunyankole and means ‘supportive person’. That was a huge reward and a big compliment for me. I look forward to next week in Kampala and I’m excited to get more involved and lead my first games.

    P1030177

  • Second Week in Freetown

    March 27, 2014. We are just about to wrap up our last session with the coaches in Sierra Leone. This second week has been incredible. You can tell that the coaches have really formed a bond with one another. For instance, the way they interact and goof off yet listen and respect one another during discussions is indicative of a certain level of comfort. I would almost go as far as to say we have formed our own futbol family.P1080670

    Having that extra week has served as an advantage, for we were able to devote a lot of time for the coaches to invent their own games with a social message and then coach it back to the entire group. The coaches did a wonderful job of creating discussions around their social messages and really focused on issues that affect their communities specifically, such as Malaria and HIV awareness.

    Another highlight of having a second week to coach is that we were able to make time for 2 scrimmages; the first, local Freetown coaches vs out-of-area coaches and the second, all of the coaches vs a local deaf team. The coaches have been anticipating both of these scrimmages since the first day of training. Everyone enjoyed playing against one another and for me it was nice to finally play with the coaches. At some point you have to pull a ‘Ronaldo 1’ on a coach in the real game to show them you practice what you preach.

    In all seriousness, I have enjoyed getting to know these coaches. They have been a great group to work with. They greet us with a smile every morning and come with enthusiasm for learning new games. I could not have asked for a better audience on my first coaching trip with CAC. While I do enjoy posing for a hundred pictures a session, our last day is upon us and it is time to say goodbye. I am sad that our time here is coming to an end, but I feel satisfied that we have made a significant impact in the coaching community here in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

    IMG_2065

  • Self-Directed Learning

     

    P1070332Self-directed learning is the heart of our work at Coaches Across Continents.  Our Hat-Trick Initiative is based on our “Chance to Choice” curriculum.  Over the three years of our partnerships, we want local coaches and leaders to develop into self-directed learners.  We then know that they will adapt this model to encourage the next generation of self-directed learners.

    Self-directed learners possess attitudes such as independence of mind, confidence in their own judgement, a sense of self-esteem leading to self-actualization and the ability to cooperate and collaborate with others. They are independent thinkers who can define and solve problems, reason logically, engage in the imaginative projection of their own ideas and set goals and strategies to achieve them. They reflect upon experience and learn from it.

    Over the course of our three year Hat Trick Initiative, we teach a portion of our curriculum each year to the local coaches. They learn using different famous footballers as role models.  We teach four main modules through each player, which are Football for Conflict Resolution including Social Inclusion, Football for Female Empowerment including Gender Equity, Football for Health and Wellness including HIV/AIDS behavioral change, and Football Skills for Life.  These four modules teach factual information as well as look to develop self-directed learners over the course of our partnerships.

    In the first year of our partnership, the coaches learn what sport for social impact entails and how to use sport to educate instead of just creating the best footballers.  In the second year we see local coaches beginning to adapt our games to address their own social issues.  In the third and final year we see local coaches identifying and recognizing their most pressing local social issues, creating new football-based games to teach about these issues, and implementing these new games with the youth in their programs.  If coaches can identify, create, and implement solutions to a problem – they have become self-directed learners.  This means that they are capable of solving all manners of problems both on and off-field in their communities.  If we are able to help create self-directed learners, they will possess the ability to solve their own locally-relevant problems in a sustainable manner as well as continue this educational model for future generations to follow.  This is ultimate success for Coaches Across Continents.

     

     

     

  • Allea Allea Comes To Sierra Leone

    IMG_1743March 24, 2014. It has been just over a week since we first arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone. In one week we have accomplished so much. Every session we average 30-40 coaches who attend and/or participate in our training sessions. The coaches come from near and far in order to participate and they represent teams of polio, amputee, deaf, blind and female players. The coaches greet us every morning with smiling faces and really embrace the different skills and social messages that we teach. They also actively participate in our daily discussions and have helped us identify social messages that are important in their own communities.

    IMG_1804

    Off the pitch, we have had the opportunity to explore the city with the assistance of our gracious and very welcoming hosts, Greatest Goal Ministries. We have had the opportunity to visit the beach, go to a Chimpanzee Sanctuary, tour the slums, and view the city from the tops of the rolling hills. After our training sessions we have also had the opportunity to observe a few of the coaches at their own practice sessions with their players.

    We have witnessed first hand the transcendence of our games at these practices with children from 6 to 16 years old and both male and female teams.  The children seem to really enjoy the games as the coaches have done a great job of adapting the games to fit their coaching styles. When we visit the coaches, most of the community comes out to the sessions and all the children call out to us “Allea Allea”, which means white person. Both Sophie and I have grown accustomed to this greeting and return the calls with waves and smiles.

    IMG_1899