• Epiphanies in Kigoma

    December 11th 2016. CAC Global Citizen writes about our work in Kigoma, Tanzania with Kigoma Municipal Council on their Connor Sport Court.

    Kigoma was the site of the first-ever Coaches Across Continents program, in 2008. It is a town of about 200,000 on the shores of Lake Tanganyika on the western border of Tanzania. Fortunately, the airport is serviced four times each week by flights from Dar Es Salaam – which saved us a draining two-day bus or train trip last weekend. Its lush green hillsides and the proximity of the second-deepest lake in the world provided a pleasant change of scenery from the dusty plains that have defined so much of our time in this country.

    Though it could certainly have just been the small sample of the community that we had, the relative isolation of Kigoma seems to have shaped the social climate there. When we arrived on Monday, Emily and I were immediately swarmed by throngs of schoolchildren who cheerfully called to us Mzungu! Mzungu!;(which means “white person”) and stared at us in awe and with innocent curiosity – something we had not experienced to such an extreme anywhere else in Tanzania. After the participants asked the children to clear from the Sport Court so we could begin the program, a few remained, and one of our participants (a schoolteacher), frustrated at these few who had not obeyed previous commands, ran towards them and swung a full kick at them so that they scrambled out of his way and off the court – just as he had intended. Out of the 44 participants in the week’s program, just five were women – a more steeply imbalanced ratio than anywhere else on this trip. Early in our session that morning, many participants named witchcraft as one of the things they most wanted to change about Kigoma, a phenomenon not even mentioned once in our other programs the past few weeks. Observing all of this on Monday, I sensed that Kigoma was still fixed to traditions that some other Tanzanian communities have begun to reconsider and reshape, and the idea of our CAC program raising questions about these practices already seemed daunting.  In many ways, our work in Kigoma appeared to be an uphill battle.

    Fortunately, throughout the week there were encouraging signs that some of this could change. In several separate conversations, participants discussed the need to change some harmful traditions (like the normalization of physically abusing children) and how they, holding leadership roles as teachers and coaches, could play a role in driving such changes in their communities. Our program and the games we selected opened the floor for these types of debates, and it felt productive to hear so many people discuss what traditions to change and how to do it, large group conversations which don’t seem to very commonly arise on their own.

    There was one moment though that offered the strongest confirmation of the effect of our curriculum. Midweek, we closed our session by playing India for Choice, a tag game that first creates scenarios of child abuse (regular tag), and then shows how individuals in the community can protect children from abuse (blocking taggers by using the ball). Finally, we designate zones on the field were players can’t be tagged, and the group labels zones as real world places where children ought to be safe from abuse (school and home, etc.). As the game ended and players migrated off the court after our ensuing conversation about child abuse, one teacher stood behind, drop-jawed. With awestruck eyes, he approached us coaches: “That…that…was awesome. Wow.” He was blown away at seeing how a simple field game can be a powerful metaphor for a social topic. Emily and I lit up; what a strong sign that what we’ve invested so much time and energy in has begun to catch on! Witnessing his epiphany was encouraging and inspiring because I know that at least one teacher came away from our program with new ideas about how to discuss touchy topics like abuse with his children and his peers. Even if he had been the only one of our participants to see the potential of using sports for social change (and I’m sure he wasn’t), no step is too small toward allowing a community to reconsider the impacts of some long-held traditions.

    kigoma-municipal-council-kigoma-tanzania-3

  • Msimamo Standing Together

    December 5th 2016. Blog post from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania by SDL Coach Emily Kruger and Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo about CAC partner program Msimamo.

    “If you are motivated to do Sport for Development by money, then you will not make the biggest impact. Your priority must be developing the children and creating social change.” -Omari Mandari

    This sentiment drives Msimamo, the sport for social impact club in Dar-es-Salaam founded by Coach Omari at his neighborhood field in 2010. He had been coaching at a local chapter of Right to Play (R2P), and when it was shut down in 2009, he decided that his dream of using sport for social impact to improve the lives of children would not die. He convinced R2P to provide him with just enough funding to get his own organization up and running. Now in 2016, between five different locations, there are over 1,000 girls and boys participating in weekly trainings, each with a modest field where four to five coaches come together to lead.

    We had the great privilege of working with the leaders from Msimamo every morning for one week, learning about their philosophies and practices while also sharing some of ours at CAC. Turns out, we are in sync. Massive heart: check. Imagining a more equitable future: check. Laughter, dance moves, loud voices, open ears: check. And above all, believing in the potential of children to make positive choices for themselves and their community: MAJOR check.

    Omari and his team of coaches are developing great players and even better humans. We witnessed them use games to spark conversations with 40 boys, ages 8-12, about the negative effects of alcohol and drugs, where the boys can go to get help if their rights are violated, and the importance of creating inclusive communities. The attention of these young boys was held during each game, during each talking point because the boys had an interactive role in the session. Omari, Amar, Ally, and the other coaches were not dictating what to do or what to say, but instead allowing the boys to share their thoughts and express their creativity. The coaches even encouraged peer leaders within the group of boys to take on more responsibility throughout the session; they told us after that they hope to soon have peer leaders leading games entirely!

    True to the quote from Omari, there isn’t any money in this for these coaches; Msimamo is a passion project. But because most of them have very little formal education, they do not have formal employment during the day, making Msimamo a tough operation to sustain. But they have an idea: a waste collection business. All they need is a truck so they can personally remove, sort, and transport waste from their community to the Dar-es-Salaam dump before they spend their evening coaching. In his characteristically heroic nature, Omari envisions killing three birds with one stone: making their community cleaner and safer, supporting the livelihood of each volunteer coach (some of whom cannot afford to eat more than one meal a day), and continuing his program to educate and develop the children of the community. It is downright inspiring and invigorating to see coaches who have such a passion for their work with children that they are willing to do the most undesirable of jobs to ensure the survival of their program. CAC must continue to stand together with the Msimamo coaches as they give everything they’ve got to the present and future of their communities.

    img_4399

  • Sweaty and Satisfied

    CAC volunteer CJ Fritz blogs from Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and our work with the Municipal Council.

    December 3rd 2015. A hectic national exam schedule for students across Tanzania saw our training start on Tuesday and run until Friday in order for local teachers attending our program to prepare their students for the exams that loomed.

    Although we only had four days with our group, all forty participants – made up primarily of schoolteachers with a few coaches mixed in – made the program supremely enjoyable. Every morning began with big smiles and warm welcomes, making us feel less like wazungu (the Tanzanian term for foreigners) and more like close friends of the participants.

    We had the unique opportunity to conduct our sessions in a newly opened sports complex complete with turf, futsal and basketball courts as well as sand pits for volleyball. The complex, sponsored by Sunderland Football Club in England, hosts many programs and provides activities for homeless and disadvantaged children in the area. It was fantastic to see such a great safe space that sustains so many helpful activities for children who need them.

    During the week we focused mainly on financial literacy, HIV/AIDS prevention and gender equity, all of which were objectives set by the participants for the week. We also detailed some ways that the participants could effectively teach or coach large groups of children – because many of them work in overcrowded schools – and how to coach when they don’t have materials, which are sorely lacking for physical education programs at schools in the area.

    The participants enthusiastically jumped into new games that addressed the problems that they were most passionate about, and many of them asked every day about when we would send them instructions on how to set up the games. They were very eager to study and implement the games they were learning. It was a very encouraging sign for sustainability during the year to come.

    We spent four hours every morning with the participants in the sweltering heat and humidity, but they were so excited about the games that we had to insist on a water break.

    By the time Friday rolled around many people asked if CAC could come back for a longer stay next year. Their eagerness to learn was unstoppable, their dedication to change undeniable and their focus on the issues at hand unwavering. I am confident that they will put to use what they learned this past week. I believe that the schools in which they teach and the teams over which they oversee are in the capable hands of teachers dedicated to change who will not settle for anything less.

    IMG_1766

  • The spirit of “Football for social impact” introduced in Dar es Salaam

    May 29, 2014.  Senior staff member Markus Bensch (Germany) tells of his experiences in Tanzania.  Last week we started a new program in Tanzania in the biggest city of the country, Dar es Salaam. Our programs in Tanzania are a bit different because we partner primarily with the Municipalities of the cities or districts and not with local NGOs. Most of the participants are teachers by trade and not necessarily coaches in particular.  In the past we have worked in many different towns but this is our first time running a program in the capital.

    But it was not only the first program in Dar es Salaam it was also the first time for me to be responsible for planning and running an entire CAC training. It was my last week of introduction with Sophie and a test run before I head to Zimbabwe to lead my own team.  Here now the report from the week of truth.

    Our program was supposed to start on Monday on the field, but in Africa sometimes things take time so we could only welcome a few participants and give them a short theoretical introduction to CAC and our work. On Tuesday we started on the field with 18 teachers and did a classical “Ronaldo Day” that gives a good introduction into football for social impact. On Wednesday we continued with Marta who is one of our most powerful female role models and gives us the opportunity to speak about female empowerment as well as discuss participation and roles of girls in sport, football and society. The participants agreed and even gave examples about different stereotypes that still exist about the roles of women and men in society. They already knew that most of these roles are culturally defined and not naturally given. One example they mentioned was about hair dressers. In Tanzania only women become hairdressers, but amongst the immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo you’ll find also men that are doing this job. This is just one of the examples we discussed and where we emphasized the idea of questioning these traditions and making a step towards creating more choices and opening more opportunities in the minds of the people, especially the young generation.

    The group enjoyed very much our fun games like Mingle Mingle, Animal Game and Head-Catch. But they also worked very seriously on finding solutions in our problem solving games like 95% Football and Lines Game, although we could tell that they’re at the beginning of the process to become self-directed learners and they struggled with this new way of thinking and acting. But they made progress throughout the week and we hope to see major changes next year when we come back, because we’re aware of the fact that the learning process and change in behavior happens throughout the year as they implement what they have learned and not completely during our one week program. We can only initiate, but the participants have to continue and we’re optimistic that this group will do so.

    We want to say ‘Thank you!’ to the Ilala Municipality District and Claude to make this program happen. A big ‘Thank you!’ goes also to Nico Achimpota our local Community Impact Coach (CIC) who traveled on Sunday from Dodoma to Dar es Salaam to help us to set up the program and organize everything for the training. Last but not least we want to thank Mr. Mgamba and his school that they hosted us and provided a football pitch and a separate classroom that we could use the whole week.

    We are looking forward to come back next year and welcome a lot of returning coaches who continue with us the journey to become self-directed learners and establish this new learning culture in their teaching and coaching.

    I personally want to say ‘Thank you!’ to Nora and Sophie for the wonderful eight weeks I had with them and the brilliant introduction I got into the philosophy of CAC and in the administrative procedures to make our work on the field successful. I’m now looking forward to run the first programs on my own and learning from my own experiences.

    The participants very much enjoyed our fun games like "Animal Game"

    The participants very much enjoyed our fun games like “Animal Game”

  • 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

  • Corporate Social Responsibility Partnership, Tanzania

    photo-1February 26, 2014. It was Monday 17th of Feb 2014. I arrived at Benjamin Mkapa Secondary School and all the teachers asked me where is Brian Mingle Mingle? It is simple question to me, I answered that I am Impact coach from Tanzania country and CAC decided to choose me to represent in running this program and they believe one another teachers from your group will also be Impact coach.

    After few minutes of introduction why Tanzania got the opportunity to run this program for refresh day from the Group of Champions from Standard Chartered Bank Tanzania (SCB), Juanita Mramba represented SCB to open the refresh days in Dar [es Salaam]. She addressed more than 50 teachers, 10 champions from SCB and 7 coaches from Tanzania Football Federation who coach children in different clubs in Dar. They said SCB had their goal to reach 15,000 children at the end of this year. So the teachers are responsible to implement this knowledge back to their school.

    DSC_0592

    I started our program by giving the chance to the teachers to review the games they learned last year. They remembered the games although they forget what we learned through those games. I am the one who tried to explain each game and how to connect what we learn to our daily life and address that CAC are using their curriculum to change the life of children through soccer. And I also explained that we are using females as the role models in order to empower females in our country. After two days in Dar, on the last day, CEO (Liz  Lloyd) from SCB came to see what is going on and participated in playing Mingle Mingle (see photo). At the closed celebration few champions, teachers and me, we got gifts for hard work during the training.

    I then went to Arusha to meet with 36 teachers. It was fantastic session because when I arrived in Arusha School, I saw the teachers had revised all the games themselves and explained what we learned in each game. Arusha is the best for the teachers to run this program. They are ready to run this program.

    When I was leaving Arusha at airport it happened one problem with Airport Official who wanted to know why our balls travel with air. So it took time to explain the types of balls [One World Futbols] but then they agree to carry my bag in the flight.

    Last I finished with 46 teachers in Mwanza, which also is very fun to me to run this program alone as Impact coach. I thank CAC and SCB to trust me as a Tanzania citizen to run this program on behalf of Coaches Across Continents.

    DSC_0335

    Community Impact Coach, Nico Pota, who was part of our very first program in Kigoma, Tanzania in 2008, has been instrumental in every program we have run in the country during the last 6 years. Over the course of this week Nico ran refresher courses in three locations on behalf of SCB Tanzania and CAC. Sustainability in action. CSR in action. A beautiful partnership and an incredible role model and member of the CAC family. Thank you Nico!