• GEORGIA Rose

    October 4, 2018. Community Impact Coach Rose writes about her experience working On-Field with Coaches Across Continents for the first time in Georgia with Community Partner, Ministry of Sport and Culture alongside SDL Educator Markus Bensch. 

    As we arrived  last Saturday  to Tbilisi my heart warmed up with nostalgia of very special memories from my trip last year. A day later we arrive to Gori, Stalin’s hometown, known for its tasty apples. I didn’t know what to expect on our first day. We had a large group of school teachers and sports coaches of different diciplines.

    This experience was very special because of so many different reasons.  It was the first time I train people that come from a completely different culture and speak a language I can’t understand. Also, it was interesting to have a variety of age groups. I can’t deny that I felt challenged the first day because most of the participants had a lot of pride to their physical abilities and achievements throughout the years. Our mission was to introduce them to a new perspective, where they can use sports for social impact and personal growth. As the days passed we overcame many challenges and we played fun inclusive games.

    One very special person I will always remember is Luda, a 10 year old girl, usually she spends a good amount of her time playing with the boys around the neighborhood. Luda watched us play for 2 days and on the third day she couldn’t help herself from joining, so she just stood with everyone, grabbed a bib and considered herself a participant in the program. I will always remember her everlasting smile and eager eyes observing the field and waiting for the ball to come her way. Luda is a gifted soul!

    CIC Rose, on her experience during her last week on-field with Coaches Across Continents in Zugdidi, Georgia. 

    This was our last program in Georgia. I can say that our 3 days went very well. Around 45 coaches and teachers from different disciplines actively participating. I loved that we had vocal female coaches and relatively younger participants leading change in their communities. We were able to have a lot fun and discuss very important social problems and challenges in Zugdidi like alcohol and drug abuse, gender equity, healthy lifestyles and we had many Q&A talks about Child Rights alongside our Child Protection Training. Our incredible coaches were very engaged in the conversations, and everyone was sharing their ideas and solutions.

    One moment I will remember for a while, when around 4 coaches were discussing “what is the best alcohol and drugs awareness approach for Children?” Seeing the conversation happen, 4 different points of views, 4 different ways, different opinions, etc… the CAC team created this safe space for them to freely discuss and share their ideas! Serving a higher purpose in life drives and shapes the person I dream of becoming.

    It was simply beautiful, empowering and felt like a big success being in Zugdidi.

    Didi Madbloba Zugdidi (Thank you so Much Zugdidi)!

     

  • I Will Be Strong!

    July 28, 2018.  Board member Dr. Judith Gates is with our team, back in Kigoma, Tanzania where we held our first-ever program ten years ago. #CAC10.  #WhatsYourLegacy?

    “I Will Be Strong!”

    These were the final words I heard amidst all of the goodbyes, exchange of email addresses and chatter about selfie photo ops that invariably mark the end of a Coaches Across Continents programme. Teachers and coaches were jostling with each other and sharing plans as to how they were going to put all they had learned that week into practice. The group of students, identifiable by their green uniforms, were talking enthusiastically about new insights gained.

    She came up to me. Tall and athletically built, she unexpectedly hugged me, kissed my cheek and said, “Thank you. I will be strong!”

    My spirits soared. I understood what she was saying. I knew what she meant.

    This week’s programme was to mark the 10th anniversary of Coaches Across Continents. Ten years ago the very first CAC programme was held in Kigoma, Tanzania. CAC had returned to mark this important anniversary. It all began here. From one programme in one country in 2008, CAC is now working in over 50 countries around the world.

    All week, with Nick working alongside Nico as leader, the group had focussed on the challenging issue of Child Rights and Child Protection. Curriculum activities had included games in which participants had identified sources of potential harm, recognised the varying forms of abuse, identified who could be of help and which places could be considered safe. They had explored attitudes and expectations relevant to their local community. Teachers and students had shared ideas together during the games, but also worked separately to discuss factors which were specifically relevant to their age group or profession. They had then talked with each and demonstrated their capacity for understanding differing points of view.

    I had led a discussion on abuse. I asked which form of abuse, physical, emotional, verbal or sexual, was most prevalent in their community. Hesitation was minimal. The vast majority of both teachers and students cited sexual abuse. Teenage pregnancies were high. Girls were forced to marry at an early age. Hunger and poverty led to girls being sold, or selling themselves, sometimes for only a bag of rice. The boundary between Child Rights and Women’s Rights blurred as they explored the reality of life for young girls in their community.

    I asked teachers and students, each in their separate group, to think about what could be done, how things could improve. Acknowledging the problem openly was seen as key. The students suggested media reporting, government intervention. Their message was clear. We deserve support and help. Children should not have to experience these things. Teachers suggested education and parental involvement. Both groups wanted answers and action. The aspiration of the girl students was to complete their education and find a job, so that their subsequent life decisions were made from a position of relative strength.

    The final words I shared with them were about personal responsibility. We can turn to others to make the changes we want, but we each have the capacity to influence in some way the context in which we live. I asked them to be strong. I asked them to contribute to the changes they hoped for.

    I told them they each could be part of the solution, they each could contribute to making Kigoma an even better community.

    And she had heard me. Her final words were of latent power, of commitment, of hope. “I will be strong!” That is the message CAC endeavours to leave behind, hoping that it will take root and contribute to locally desired community changes around the world. Another first for Kigoma!

    ~ Dr. Judith Gates

  • FINDING YOUR VOICE

    July 19, 2018. Coaches Across Continents Global Citizen, Rosa Morales, writes about her experience working on field with GOALS Armenia in Martuni and Gyumri, Armenia for the third year of the ASK for Choice partnership. 

    “I raise up my voice – not so I can shout, but so that those without a voice can be heard … we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”  – Malala Yousafzai

    There are many individuals who have the luxury of being born into a privileged family, where they have little to no concern in regards to the realities those in developing countries face. However, although those in westernized countries do not face the hardships that are faced elsewhere, they are still battling for similar rights. Being a woman, no matter the location, is a constant battle and through my experience with Coaches Across Continents (CAC) as a Global Citizen, I have become increasingly aware that we must raise awareness and encourage the younger generations to fight for their rights through a voice that has been suppressed for centuries.

    In Armenia, women have been suppressing their voices due to a culture that emphasizes the man’s power. Here, women are seen as weaker than their male counterpart, diminishing the power of their voice based on the outdated concept of their place being at home, in a kitchen. However, women and organizations throughout the country have taken a stand against this. One nonprofit organization, GOALS Armenia, has taken a stand.

    GOALS, Girls of Armenia Leadership Soccer, an organization that “empowers youth to become leaders through the creation of safe spaces, speak their mind, and challenge social norms,” has primarily been focusing their largest impact on young girls. By targeting a younger audience, they provide the means to make an impact on social issues sooner than later – hoping to raise enough awareness for a more equal life for proceeding generations.

    The participants that CAC worked with in Gyumri, Armenia struck me the hardest. The majority of these participants were women, attempting to make a difference in their communities. They were included in trainings and discussions that focused on methods to gain confidence in oneself, raise awareness on the many complex manifestations of discrimination in their country, and matters to make a positive, lasting social impact. Here, they were granted a voice that would usually be suppressed, allowing them to express the things that make them uncomfortable.

    Topics ranged from gender inequality, inclusion, racism, sexism, religious views, and homophobia – each resulting in the group agreeing that educating and raising awareness within their communities will have the largest impact in regards to changing to a more progressive viewpoint.

    As Malala stated in the quote above, we must raise our voice, not only for us, but also for those whom are denied a voice. By utilizing our voice to spread awareness on the inequalities and injustices that occur throughout the world, we raise awareness to allow for progression towards a more equal world. We must help each other to accomplish our goals, to progress as a human race. Thus, we must be compassionate and empathetic; we must remove ourselves from our comfortable, privileged homes and expose ourselves to the uncomfortable situations that millions of people experience daily.

    While we are growing up, our parents tell us to “change the world,” to “make a difference,” but instead, we have been so focused on our personal growth that we forget that without others, we are alone. If we wish to strive for a world of opportunity, we must think about those who receive so little. We cannot change the world and make it a better place if we are working on doing so by ourselves – what would take us centuries to complete as individuals would take us far less time if we worked together.

    As an individual in a more progressive society, we must forego our selfish nature and begin to focus on the “WE,” instead of the “I.” We can no longer ignore those who are crying for help from all around the world, but instead we shall join forces. Together, we can give a voice to those who have been voiceless, give strength to those who have been denied of their abilities, and allow their stories to be heard by those who have ignored them for so long.

  • My Most Valuable Experience

    June 25th, 2018. Community Impact Coach, Ntethelelo Ngobese, joins Self-Directed Learning Educator, Markus Bensch from Coaches Across Continents, on-field in Zimbabwe and South Africa with CAC Community Partner World Parks, World Cup.

    “Sports have the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sports can create hope, where there was once only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination. Sports is the game of lovers.” NELSON MANDELA

    After reading this quotes from the late president, Nelson Mandela, I was inspired to use sport as a social impact tool to respond to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in my community. From the sport experience I had, I was not confident enough to implement education outside classroom, and feared I would not be able to use sport for social impact. This all changed after I joined Coaches Across Continents (CAC).

    I was just on-field as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) in partnership with Friends of Mutale located in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Through CIC program, I have gained massive experience and confidence to implement Education Outside the Classroom, to work with people from different backgrounds with differing perspective and experience. It was also amazing to learn from others culture.

    During the first week in Zimbabwe, I learned how to introduce CAC’s Education Outside the Classroom to the people who have never received this kind of education as well as work with those who have experience in the subject. Through interaction with the participants in Zimbabwe, I was also enabled to spot a perspective difference between people from my community and people from that area. I mean the way they’re outgoing and always looking forward to make things happen is unlike where I come from, where most people do not take initiatives to change lives or difficult situations. The people I met are more likely to sit down and criticise those that want to see change happening. This is leaving me with the task to make people aware that taking initiatives is the best thing they can do! I will achieve this through series of strategic awareness campaigns upon my return home! 

    During the second week in Bende Mutale, I was more confident to implement education outside the classroom after my observation during the program in Zimbabwe. I learned to prepare for the session and to evaluate if the session has achieved its intended impact to the participants through coach backs and discussions, especially on the topi of Child Rights. Child Rights is a major focus for CAC and all of their partnerships around the world. Furthermore on chid rights, I observed that some cultural beliefs may violate children’s rights and thus some education must be done to make people aware of the child rights. Between the two communities, I also observed that most of the people are aware of the challenges they face in their communities and have solutions but do not implement them.

    After gaining this experience I am even more confident to proceed with the implementation of the education outside the classroom in my community. I will do this by transferring the knowledge I have gained to my peers through series of trainings for coaches, teachers and other community members in order to work together towards the achievement of sport for social impact!

  • The Power of Acronyms

    May 16th, 2018. Coaches Across Continents Facilitator, Ashlyn Hardie, puts together a blog reflecting the incredible leadership and success of Community Impact Coach (CIC), Benny Marquis, and past Michael Johnson Young Leader, Jamie Tomkinson who recently lead a Coaches Across Continents training in Bangalore, India with CAC partner Parikrma Humanity Foundation.

    Stories like these are amazing. They are amazing because everything that Coaches Across Continents strives for is positive social change in the world – and not just for a moment, for a minute, for a year – but forever. Sustainable, positive change is why we do everything that we do here at CAC.

    So, why is this program so special? Why is this blog titled “The Power of Acronyms”? Let me explain….

    FIRST – Jamie Tomkinson was nominated by Coaches Across Continents to be a Michael Johnson Young Leader a couple years ago, and was selected! MJYL, our first acronym for this blog, is one of the most prestigious leadership training courses, and life-changing opportunities for young people all around the world. Jamie, once finishing the MJYL training, has continued to work with Coaches Across Continents (CAC – this one you should know) on multiple on-field programs over the past two years.

    NOW – Benny Marquis has been a CAC program participant in the past, but was just recently promoted to being a CAC Community Impact Coach! The CIC Initiative is designed by CAC to take stand out participants from our programs and further develop them with the Online Education Program (OEP) and On-Field professional development opportunities!

    AMAZING – So, back to sustainability. A couple of years ago CAC, nominated a kid to give him a chance for the MJYL program, and he thrived! He continued to travel, coach, and learn and has recently ran his own program, independently representing CAC with partner Parikrma, in Bangalore, India. Assisting him with this training is CIC, Benny, who is now able to apply all of his learnings from the OEP program on the ground. Not only this, but Jamie has connected CAC Partner Parikrma with his old sporting club, Spartans Academy, and they will be hosting a Girls Football Festival at the end of the month – so the good work keeps on going!

    Change is possible, and sustainable. People can make a difference, and their impact can grow. This story started with a teenage boy with a good heart, and now he is training community leaders around the world for the planets largest international sport for development non-profit.  This is what Coaches Across Continents is all about … ACRONYMS …. and sustainable development at its finest.

     

    Notes from Benny on the week: 

    “I learned a lot of leadership skills thanks to CAC and Jamie. I also learned how to modify the session in case of a larger group of students, and also how to use available resources – even if it is just a stone lying around – to conduct the session. Tough this was explained during the OEP in theory, I got my first hand experience at it this time on-field. I also got to learn more about two hour sessions, the number of games that can be included, and the kind of sport for education discussions that can be had.”

     

  • Reducing Teen Pregnancy through Soccer

    On December 22nd, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Nicholaus Achimpota, from Tanzania writes about running a CAC program in Kigoma, alone. Nico is pictured above from another training he helped run in Pemba, Zanzibar. 

    My name is Nicholaus Achimpota. I have a Bachelor of Sports Science and Management at Ndejje University in Uganda. I have worked with CAC since 2008. In the last 10 years I have worked with the government as a sports officer in Kigoma, and for 3 years as the Chamwino district update.

    My job is training and monitoring the sports teachers, conducting workshops and seminars to club leaders, acting as the assistant registrar of the sports association and clubs planning yearly sports programs in my district. I work with 120 primary schools and 28 secondary schools.

    This week it was my first time to run the CAC program alone. It was not easy to believe that CAC would trust me to run the program in country, completely alone, without the leader from CAC staff – but they did!

    I was very happy to have this opportunity and I want to say thank you to all of the CAC staff for giving me this work. This means that I opened the door for other CAC members to work in their communities without the direct on-field overseeing of CAC.

    In the first day the participants didn’t believe what happened. During the introduction for the Sports Officer, Mr. Abdul, everyone was surprised that the program was being ran by me (Nicholaus) because the last year was ran by CAC’s Emily from America.

    At the end of the first day one of the coaches, Anastasia Busumabi, came to me and she said “Coach Nico, we understood the way you taught and how to use soccer to teach social issues. Because of the language barriers, we have feared to ask questions in previous years.” Another teacher Singo said “By bringing you here, it means even us we can do the same as you”. Which is the purpose of the Community Impact Coach program – to empower coaches to be leaders and role models for other coaches in their communities.

    The five-day program was based on how to use CAC games to prevent social issues specifically teenage pregnancy. So, we emphasized the games for conflict prevention, skills for life, HIV and gender equality.

    The participants impressed me, and motivated me to do all the best to make sure they understood how to use soccer to teach social issues to the community.

    It was very fun after four years to be back again to Kigoma and enjoy the nice food that they had to offer. Migebuka is the type of fish available at Lake Tanganyika and was my favorite during my stay. On Thursday afternoon I helped the teachers learn how to play Woodball.

    To be honest it was a great experience for me to learn and share skills with teachers in my country. Moreover, I never forgot to sing with them the song “Amatosa” and different concentration games. Nothing is impossible under the sun. It is important that all communities benefit with the CAC saying “Smile and solve your problem”.

    I am the first Community Impact Coach to run a program alone in Kigoma.

    Many more will follow the way. Goodbye Kigoma.