• A Successful Journey With CAC

    May 12th 2015. CAC Community Impact Coach Salim Blanden, from Uganda, blogs about his trip with CAC to Kenya.

    It’s been another exciting year for me after hearing the news that I would be working with CAC in another country. It was the 19th of April; I was already in Kisumu, Kenya, waiting for the CAC program leader, Markus and another CAC coach, Turner. Two hours at the ferry station, Markus and Turner arrived. I was so excited to meet Markus again since we had met in Uganda at Mbarara Sports Academy in 2014.  I knew I would have a good time with Markus, knowing he would be the leader of the programs in Kenya.

    We went to Mbita, a small village on the shores of Lake Victoria in Homabay County. It was a great week for me at Boychild Agenda International. We started the first program with a lot of energy while I enjoyed the fish from the lake every day.

    After one week, we set off to Rapogi to CREATA where we would spend another week. The Centre for Regeneration and Empowerment of Africa Through Africa (CREATA) is a Non-Governmental Organization in Kenya that provides opportunities for young people to be creative and explore their potentials. They encourage them to find solutions to their problems and inspire the people of Kenya to love and build their country through sports.

    It’s year two for CAC  and CREATA to work together and we hit the pitch on Monday morning 27th April. After a brief introduction from Markus, Turner and I, we went straight to the pitch. Turner was the leader of the week in Rapogi and we were joined by Markus’ friends Vincent and Daniel from Germany, as well as Sindiswa Ntlangulela from South Africa. They all had come to join the On-Field program and celebrate Markus’ 30th Birthday.

    I was excited to get on the pitch on Monday morning after a heavy breakfast provided by CREATA. Turner ran our first game, ‘Circle of Friends’, one of my favorites. It was clear that many coaches recognized this game as a good number of them were returners. We started with high energy and the new coaches understood the idea of the game very quickly; playing the game with a lot of fun and loud voices. Turner took us through other games like Wilshere Skills for Life, where the coaches learnt and practiced different ways of passing the ball, as Arsenal FC and England midfielder Jack Wilshere does.

    I was then given a chance to lead a game called ‘Mingle Mingle’ and I was excited about the response of the coaches when I taught this game. Mingle Mingle is a fun game where players jog around the field and the coach yells a number and then participants quickly get into those groups. The remaining players had to dance or do a goal celebration in front of other participants. The participants loved to dance ‘Kuku dance’ and this made everyone happy, making the game fun for everyone. This gave me confidence, because they all understood what I taught them. I also played another game called Wilshere for Fun and my last game on Monday was Rwanda for Skills. The fact related to Rwanda for Skills was the highlight of the day for me, because it was new to most coaches. They kept asking me if it was true that Rwanda has more women in parliament than men.

    It was a great experience for me to teach the CAC games to other coaches and to know that they understood what I taught them. I would like to thank Markus for always talking to me after the games and encouraging me. This gave me the courage to teach the next games. He thanked me for my work and asked me how I felt after teaching the games.

    Off the pitch, I enjoyed staying in Rapogi at Paul Ogalo’s home, the CREATA Director. I played with a lot of kids around Paul’s home and enjoyed the good food. The food in Kenya was nice, lots of fish, Chapati, Ugali and meat. Although I did not understand the Kiswahili language very well, I understood the language of delicious food at Paul’s house.

    I was also excited about the various programs CREATA is running as part of engaging the young people in Rapogi. I was impressed by the ‘Pacific group’ which is a dancing group of young people that entertained us on Wednesday when we celebrated Markus’s birthday. Afterwards we visited the Rapogi Rock and took photos on top of the rock. Wednesday night gave me more motivation as we danced until midnight, celebrating Markus’ birthday. It was a great party as Daniel and Vincent sang Sorbian birthday songs for him which they always sing back at home honoring the person’s life and wishing him/her all the best.

    On to the pitch again, the coaches enjoyed the games and did coach backs every day. It was clear that most coaches taught the games well during coach backs and it was a good indication that they would teach these games and impact more children in their local communities. The coaches liked fun games like Mingle Mingle, 95% football, Scary soccer, and Animal game. Others also liked playing scrimmages. Female empowerment games were also responded to very well. They had so many questions about the topics we raised. Markus always asked more questions to make the participants think about different ways to empower women.

    It was a great week for me and the whole CAC team. I found a new home; I could not have asked for something better than this. Thanks to Markus and Turner for the advice and encouragement throughout my time in Kenya, and to Paul and the CREATA staff for hosting us all.

    More importantly, I would like to thank the CAC founder Nick Gates for the Letter of Commendation and Recognition. I will continue educating young people and other coaches in my community. I look forward to work with Coaches Across Continents again whenever I’m given the chance.

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  • First Worldwide On-Line Education Course in Sport for Social Impact

    February 24th 2015. Do you remember your childhood and the time when you could open another window each day on the Christmas calendar and got more and more excited the closer you moved to Christmas? Coaches Across Continents (CAC) staff members feel like that at the moment, because in just a few days we launch our first “On-Line SDL Coaching Course”. We and our 24 participants are very excited to start, on March 1st 2015, this first worldwide On-Line Education Course in Sport for Social Impact. The students have been selected from our 74 implementing partners all over the world and we are very happy that we have participants from nine different countries, working on four different continents participating in this course. We will work with the coaches over nine months to develop their skills of coaching Football for Social Impact and guide them on their way to becoming Self-Directed Learners. By the end of the course they will be able to identify social issues in their own community and develop soccer games that address and ask for solutions regarding the issues they identified.

    CAC has been using the On-Line platform Sport Session Planer (SSP) for several years now to develop our own curriculum. Now it will become a key part in our On-Line Education course where the participants can enter, change, develop and share games they have played. We will use this platform to guide our coaches through the Self-Directed Learning (SDL) stages “Educate”, “Adapt”, and “Create”. In the “Educate” stage they will implement in their community nine CAC games every month and enter those games into SSP. In the “Adapt” stage they will learn to change existing games – using SSP – in a way that suits their individual needs. And in the final “Create” stage they will learn how to develop and design their own games and share them on SSP with participants from other communities. Furthermore CAC will have monthly Skype calls with the participants to give them any support they need and to follow up on their individual progress. CAC want to start a worldwide platform where communities can share their knowledge, experience and creativity and give feedback to each other’s games.

    One of the most important parts in CAC’s philosophy is that we don’t give any solutions or answers to each community’s social issues. We ask questions and we empower people to change things which they think needs to be changed. And the On-Line SDL Coaching Course is another cornerstone in the process of enabling communities to solve their own problems.

    Christmas this year is still a long time away, but for us it is five more days and the waiting has come to an end…

    Game 2

  • The World That Our Hearts Tell Us Is Possible

    Three time CAC volunteer Anna Rodenbough writes about her experiences with Street Soccer Mexico last week.
    January 23rd 2015. Although I have previously volunteered with CAC in East Africa in 2010 and Jamaica in 2013, this past week was the first time I had worked with a partner program in their second year of the Hat-Trick Initiative. I am incredibly glad that I had the opportunity to work with Street Soccer Mexico (SSM), a wonderful organization based in Mexico City that coordinates soccer-for-social-impact trainings and tournaments across the country of Mexico. Though we only spent a few days working with SSM in Mexico City, my time spent there galvanized my belief that CAC can help to inspire a better world.

    While that may seem like a bold belief, I am supported by the measurable changes that have occurred at SSM since they began their partnership with CAC one year ago. At the start of each program, CAC performs a baseline questionnaire to determine the level of sport-for-social-impact knowledge and skills from which the participating partners are starting. With SSM, about half the coaches were returning after taking part in the first year of the on-field training with CAC. Because of this, the group’s baseline knowledge was quite high – much higher than any other group with which I had previously worked. This presented a unique opportunity for us to build upon an already strong foundation during our time with SSM. It also gave the SSM coaches the opportunity to begin adapting the CAC games to their communities. In addition, the returning coaches shaped a positive learning environment for the coaches who had not previously had exposure to the CAC games.

    It became clear to me on the first day of our training with SSM that the coaches were staunchly committed to generating positive change in their communities. They were constantly engaged in training and were eager to share their own ideas and experiences. They worked hard, both physically and mentally. And they were passionate about using football to improve the lives of the children in Mexico. Over the next couple of days, the SSM coaches continued to astound me with their creativity, intelligence, and work ethic. On the final day of our program, we asked the coaches to create their own games to teach to us. Normally, CAC reserves this activity for programs in their third year of the Hat-Trick Initiative, as they work on the “Create” aspect of the “Educate  Adapt  Create” curriculum. However, we felt that the coaches at SSM were ready to showcase their abilities, and we were right! Working in groups, the coaches taught us a litany of well-developed and innovative games that addressed the dangers and obstacles faced regularly by the children in their communities. In addition, the coaches emphasized the importance of giving those children a voice with which to make positive choices in their lives.

    The strength of the coaches that I witnessed firsthand on the field was supported by the endline questionnaire that we performed after completing the trainings. All of the coaches in attendance, whether young or old, male or female, proudly raised their hands to acknowledge their familiarity with football games that teach about gender equality and women’s rights, conflict resolution, health and wellness, children’s rights, skills for life, and fun. I was impressed by the gains made in just a few days with a group of coaches that was quite accomplished at baseline.

    During our time in Mexico City, we asked several of the SSM coaches to share with us their dreams for the future. One of the coaches, Ruben, gave an incredibly moving answer:

    “When I grow up, I would like to see individuals and collectives acknowledging freedom and power, and creating from that space, living from that space. Because I think that, if we do that, we could create a world that our hearts tell us is possible.”

    After working with SSM last week, I am more confident than ever that CAC can help to make that world a reality.

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