Football for Health & Wellness
We can all agree that being active and playing sports is an incredibly healthy decision for our physical well-being. More and more people are beginning to understand how important a role sports can also play in improving our emotional well-being. CAC uses football to teach both of these messages. We also use football games to educate our participants, who then educate the youth they work with, on how to stay healthy, to practice good hygiene, to think about the food and fluids they put into their bodies, and to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases including HIV/AIDS.
At the most fundamental level we teach Health & Wellness games in order to get the heart pounding, the lungs gasping for air, the muscles aching, the sweat pouring forth. One such game is Marta for Health & Wellness. In this game there are cones scattered about in a space with about 3-4 yards between each one. We will have two groups in this game – one group will work, the other will rest. Each will go for 30 seconds and in that time they have to get to as many cones as possible doing different movements at each one. For example, the first round they might touch the cone with their hand igniting more of a speed and changing direction challenge. Then they might jump over the cone with two feet – over and back – before they move on to another cone. Then maybe one foot, then the other. There are all sorts of variations to this game, but they all have the same purpose – get to work!
Either after we finish, or between each exercise, we ask the participants how they feel. We see what information we can pull out of them, not as a test, but to help them understand why it is important to think about exercising in ways that extend beyond becoming better footballers. We ask pointed questions, as we do not want to lecture but, rather, to encourage the participants to think for themselves. In this manner our discussions about health and wellness become locally relevant and we learn about the various cultural factors that influence our ability to stay healthy, in body and in mind.
These Health & Wellness games lay a strong foundation for us to build from when going more in-depth with topics such as nutrition and sexual health. One of our long-time partners, Whizzkids United, has the most comprehensive HIV education program that we have encountered in our work. Their new Football for Hope Center is at their office next to the hospital they partner with in Edendale, a community outside of Durban, South Africa. This relationship allows them to not only educate about HIV/AIDS but to also incorporate HIV testing and counseling, and thorough, long-term follow-up care into their programs. It is small-scale, but it is big impact. Our role in this partnership is helping Whizzkids capitalize on their charge of the Football for Hope Center. Their coaches learn all of our games with particular attention paid to our HIV module. These games embody the messages about sexual health meaning whatever happens during the game is what shapes the discussion.
Our Monitoring & Evaluation shows that before our program only 29% of our participants could teach young people how to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections including HIV/AIDS using a football game, whereas after a CAC training, that number jumps to 93%.
Football for Conflict Resolution
Solve your problem; CAC words to live by. The underlying message behind such a simple instruction is that you are looking for an answer; I will not give you one, so find it yourself.
Coaches Across Continents works in some of the most conflict-ridden communities in the world. Our Conflict Resolution games work to confront issues in places such as Sierra Leone where many of our participants are amputees as a result of civil war. An integral part of this module is social inclusion as we work to combat discrimination and solve problems in a peaceful, inclusive manner.
These messages comes to life in many of our games, but they is especially magnified in the Conflict Resolution aspect of our curriculum. In these games more than any others we separate the football for social impact coaches from the football coaches. The best way to explain is with an example. In the game Wilshere for Conflict Resolution there are five cones creating a pentagon. Behind each cone is a line of anywhere from 1 to 4 players but should not be more than 4. The only rule in this game is that players must pass the ball to one line and run to a different line, or in other words, they cannot follow their pass. What usually happens next is a moment of calm, and then many mistakes. Passes will be sloppy, players will take multiple touches before making their mind up, they will forget the only rule, and once they stop doing that, they will pass to the line with only one person in it, meaning it will then become empty. This is what we want.
This one rule forces players to think before they make decisions, and the conflict is inevitable. Our goal in this type of game is to provoke that conflict, and then we say, solve your problem! The players will often look first to the coach for answers because so many societies have ingrained that sense of dependency on authority figures such as teachers and coaches – but not here. They look to us, we say solve your problem, and then what? Magic happens. The players strategize, they start communicating – verbally and non-verbally – they get into a rhythm, quality of passing improves, fewer touches are needed, and they are working as a team. To make it more difficult we can add another ball, we can limit touches to 2 or even 1, and we can give them an objective to reach a certain number of passes without a mistake, or to play for one minute without a mistake. If there is a mistake, we ask, who suffers in football if a player gets a red card? The same goes for this game, if one player makes a mistake, we all pay the price.
At our level in coaching football for social impact these types of games are invaluable. They enable players to think for themselves and find solutions to their own problems, individually and as a team. These skills are important for all of us, and this manner of coaching is crucial for coaches to adopt if we want the next generation to be one of free-thinking self-directed learners. Ultimately these self-directed learners will be able to apply their critical thinking skills to all aspects of their lives. The local coaches and young players will be able to create solutions to whatever problems exist in their communities, the countries, and the world. They will not look to outsiders or to the West for solutions, they will look to themselves. When given the opportunity, when given the chance, children will surprise us all – in a game that has one problem, they will find infinite solutions, and in life when faced with important choices, they will make the right ones.
Extensive Monitoring & Evaluation has given our team some insight into the work we do regarding conflict resolution and social inclusion. Before our program only 19% of participants knew how to use football to teach young people how best to resolve conflict, and afterward, 99% have the skill set to do just that.
New Country, New Experiences, Big Impact
February 28, 2014. It is safe to say that our coaches experienced a true CAC first upon their arrival at their weeklong home on the Yucatán Peninsula. After two flights and a quick 14-hour layover in between, staff members Nora Dooley and Sophie Legros alongside volunteer and all-star translator Tomas Torres-Tarver of the One World Futbol family, arrived safely in Mérida, albeit exhausted, excited, and a bit delirious. Our gracious hosts, FEYAC (Fundación del Empresariado Yucateco A.C.), gathered us from the airport late at night and brought us to our temporary oasis… and when I say oasis, I mean… oasis. Eyes watering from laughing so hard, our coaches could do little else as they soaked in the reality of living directly on a beach, in a gorgeous house with more space than our two seasoned staff knew what to do with. Suffice it to say we are not used to such luxury, but when it comes our way we certainly are not shy in seizing the moment.
Other than the VIP accommodation, this week in Mérida stands as our first program in Mexico, and this group of coaches definitely delivered. A band of about 50 men and women from all over the Yucatán state, these participants proved each and every day how much they not only care about the children in their care as teachers and coaches, but also how passionate they are about finding innovative ways to educate. They unequivocally latched on to the social messages of every game we played with them, making our jobs incredibly easy, fun, and rewarding.
As we do with all programs, in all cultural contexts, in so many communities around the world, we asked this group about the social issues most relevant to their society, to their culture, to the people, young and old, that they encounter in their everyday lives. The feedback we received was integral in planning the training schedule, as our priority is always to give our participants exactly what they ask for as we help them on the path to self-directed learning.
The collective voice of this assembly of coaches emphasized the reality of bullying and discrimination facing children throughout the communities they live and work in. In response to this we played a game called Lupita Against Bullying. We named this game after a participant in this training who has been playing for the Mexican Women’s National Team for 15 years – Lupita Worbis – a true role model who cares deeply about community development and using her celebrity to pay it forward.
In this game there are players who represent different forms of bullying such as insults or violence. These players must chase the others around the grid – which represents their community – and try to tag them. If they tag them they yell out what type of bullying they represent and the player they tag must crouch down on the ground, making it clear that they have been caught. Once all the players are tagged we play the game again, but this time we introduce a way for the tagged players to be freed. This can happen when a free player approaches a crouching, frozen player and empowers them with a complement, raising them back up and giving them the power to run once more. Following this game was a great discussion about how we can combat the issue of bullying, addressing specific circumstances raised by some of the participants as well as in a more general context.
This dynamic and fruitful week of training left our CAC team in high spirits. Yes, the beach house played a slight factor, but even more inspiring was the passion exuded by the participants and members of the FEYAC team day in and day out. To say we are excited about the future of this partnership is an understatement, but when I say our staff will be fighting over running this program in the coming years… I’m talking rumpus!
Thank you FEYAC and all the coaches and teachers for the incredible welcome, hospitality, energy and commitment to social impact – ¡Muchas gracias!
Corporate Social Responsibility Partnership, Tanzania
February 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.
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.
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!
Esto es Cartagena
February 24, 2014. After a week hiatus back at the CAC Global Headquarters in Florida, 2014 programs resumed once again in the Western Hemisphere, but this time in Spanish! Three CAC coaches set their sights on South America including two senior staff, Sophie Legros and Nora Dooley, and one volunteer, Tomas Torres-Tarver of One World Futbol.
The trio of 23 year-olds landed in Colombia ready for a week of football, social impact, and maybe a little bit of dancing in the beautiful city of Cartagena. This week would be our third year working with Colombianitos, but our first with their team in Cartagena, the past two years taking place in Puerto Tejada.
We could not have asked for a more welcoming introduction to our three weeks in Latin America. Colombianitos is an incredible organization that already does great work with children using sport for development. Our games are a perfect fit for this group as they seek to do more teaching on the field, developing young leaders while developing young footballers.
The participants in Cartagena were made up mostly of Colombianitos youth that the staff believe are up-and-coming leaders in their organization. The head coach of this team, Alfredo, who also hosted our three coaches at his apartment for the week, is the epitome of a role model in his community. We could not walk down a street without at least ten people stopping him to have a chat, or him going out of his way to engage with an acquaintance.
This man treats everyone like family and it was obvious how much the young players look up to him. We owe Alfredo a big thank you for making us feel so completely at home in a foreign environment and helping in the rather quick process of making our team fall in love with a new country.
We were also joined by a Colombianitos coach from Puerto Tejada, Mauro, who is already a professional at coaching football for social impact. Maybe this is due to our previous work with him and the rest of the Puerto Tejada coaches, but it was evident how much Mauro has retained from our trainings and how much he coaches our curriculum – and the games he has adapted! – throughout the year. Mauro and Alfredo are both well on their way to becoming self-directed learners and if we return to work with Colombianitos next year, inventing new games will be the priority.
Sad to leave such a beautiful country with such an electric energy, music pulsing wherever you go, our three coaches turn their attentions to Mexico for two weeks with two different One World Futbol partners… and maybe a beach house somewhere along the way, vamos a la playa!
Introducing the Community Impact Coach Program!
January 25, 2013. Coaches Across Continents is proud to announce a brand new initiative for 2013, the Community Impact Coach Program. This is a first-of-its kind program globally which will allow for sustainability, professional development and growth within our partner programs.
Our unique Community Impact Coach Program will accept qualified local coaches from our CAC partners, and will facilitate their travel to other CAC partners either domestically and/or internationally. While at another partner program, this Community Impact Coach will teach alongside CAC coaches and learn from their fellow Sport for Social Impact communities.
“It is our belief that by creating this network between coaches and allowing local coaches the opportunity to travel, teach, and learn in other locales, that they will bring a unique perspective to the CAC curriculum. We believe that this learning experience will then be brought back to their local communities and allow for continued growth and sustainability with all our programs.” – Brian Suskiewicz, On Field Global Strategist.
Competition for the Community Impact Coach positions is expected to be extremely high as only the strongest and most dedicated local coaches will be selected. For more information about the Community Impact Coach Program or to receive an application, please contact CAC at: .