• The Importance of Social Inclusion – On-Field and Off-Field

    August 17th 2016. CAC Community Impact Coach (CIC) Evariste Habimana wrote about working in Rubavu, Rwanda with Football for Hope, Peace and Unity.

    Rubavu is the nursery for football in Rwanda. I enjoyed working with the coaches from this district. They are professional and are zealous about coaching.

    As I was working with them I learned many things about coaching styles. But most important to me was watching them enthusiastically learn the CAC games.  Before I joined CAC I thought coaching football was to create professional players.  But now I realize that coaching can be a lot more.

    All football teams around the world play games for technique, tactics, and endurance. With CAC we play these same games, but combine them with messages for social impact. These messages are about gender equity, female empowerment, conflict prevention, child rights, HIV prevention and more.

    My favorite game in Rubavu was “Child Rights: Social Inclusion”. Some groups of children are excluded, such as females, disabled, or for religious reasons. Our coaches will begin to change this. Here is how the game is played.

    It is like regular football, there are two teams. The only difference is that players have to stay in their own zone. The pitch is divided into three equal zones. The forwards must stay in the attacking zones, midfielders stay in the middle zone, and defenders stay in the back zone – in front of their goal.

    Not allowed to leave your zone is like being excluded. In football a defender often scores a goal. Midfielders are expected to score goals and defend their goal besides controlling the midfield. Forwards often have to help defend their goal too.

    Just to give coaches the feeling of being excluded compared to being free to play we make a change to the game. One team is allowed to move wherever they want and the other team is restricted to their zones. At the end, we ask, “How does that feel?” The team that was restricted was not very happy and complained that the game was not fair. We knew: they understood the message of the game.

    Just like footballers must be allowed to play the whole pitch, all who want to play football must be allowed to play. It does not matter if they are old or female or disabled. This applies to all activities, not just sports.

    I expect that our CAC trained coaches will use our curriculum in their regular program. And that it will make a positive social impact for their communities.

    Through my time as a CIC in Rubavu I got to meet new coaches and share with them my knowledge and experience. I feel encouraged by the CAC coaches to now even approach and educate coaches in my home community in Nyanza who never participated in CAC training nor use Sport for Social Impact. I now feel confident to create games myself and implement them at the school I teach.

    IMG_2478

  • Re-envisioning The Field

    August 19th 2015. Coaches Across Continents volunteer Emily Spring talks about her first week On-Field in Phnom Penh, Cambodia with IndoChina Starfish Foundation.

    We step onto the football field in Phnom Penh for the first time this year on a hot August day. Before the end of our first day training coaches from Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF), laughter could be heard in abundance, and this theme of joy continued throughout the week.

    “Joy” wasn’t always a word that could be used to describe many fields in Phnom Penh. For most westerners who come to this place for the first time, Cambodia is infamous for its Killing Fields, one of several locations throughout Cambodia marked for its mass graves discovered after the Cambodian Genocide. However, among this group of dedicated coaches – many of whom have returned for the second or third year – the Genocide could not be further from their minds. For these coaches, the field represents a place of fun and laughter for everyone.

     ISF – CAC’s partner program here in Phnom Penh – has worked to foster hope in the communities of Chbar Ampov and Stung Meanchey, just outside the city center. This week, ISF and CAC have been working together with 30 coaches who impact thousands of children.  The field no longer has to represent a place of discrimination, pain, or suffering. We are working to build a new type of field in Phnom Penh – both tangibly and metaphorically. This December, a new, tangible complex will be built – complete with two full-length football fields and one Connor Sport Court where kids can safely play, run, and kick a ball around.

     More importantly are the various fields that ISF has already established throughout Phnom Penh where they train dozens of teams and thousands of children. Through its partnership with Kousar Thmery – a local school for deaf children – ISF has created an inclusive space where kids of all abilities are welcome to play. Through the Rabbit School for children with disabilities, ISF has ensured that the field represents a place where no child is discriminated. And through its various community outreach programs, ISF has already established itself throughout Chbar Ampov and Stung Meanchey, creating several programs based in inclusion, education, and play.

     In Phnom Penh, we are working to instill hope to all children involved in ISF’s programs – hope for a better future that moves away from a violent history of harsh discrimination. Thanks to our games in CAC’s Chance to a Choice program, we have not aimed to create an escape from the past; rather, we have created a space where coaches and kids can safely speak about such issues. ISF and CAC are reenvisioning the field for Cambodia – one that is no longer rooted in discrimination, but instead represents an inclusive, fun, and safe environment. One where all children are welcomed and encouraged to speak up – a field where hope can finally be found.

    DSC06524

  • It’s Going To Be Muddy

    May 2nd 2015. “It’s going to be muddy,” said Phelix, a Community Impact Coach from Tanzania, after learning that our team was heading to Mbita for our next training. His declaration proved accurate as the torrential rain held up just long enough for us to get to our guest house that looked right out onto Lake Victoria. The following morning we had a very slippery and puddle filled journey to the field we would be using for the week. Kicking off the mud from my sneakers I sought out to inspect the pitch. I expected to sink into the rich, dark and wet soil that explained the many maize crops bordering every road into Mbita. To my surprise the field had sustained the downpour and was ready to welcome the many coaches and leaders from BOYCHILD and the community. By implementing sport for development programs in local schools and offering agricultural training BOYCHILD strives to impact the lives of young boys in Mbita who they see as most at risk in their community.

    As with every training we began with a game called ‘Circle of Friends.’ Starting in a big circle, some players begin by doing an active exercise into the middle. They then find a player on the outside of the circle to exchange with. As you exchange places you shout out various things about yourself. For example, we usually start with players simply stating their name. Then progressing to players stating their favorite football club or something they like about their community. This game is a great way to warm up our bodies and learn more about the people who we will be with for the week. Being a year two program the coaches at BOYCHILD have seen their fair share of ‘Circle of Friends’ so it was our goal to get the participants to come up with new exercises and exchanges. Seizing the opportunity Lillian, a mother of three, boldly entered the circle, completed an exercise and to exchange with a player proclaimed, “I am a leader!” It was great to see such fearlessness on the first day – no doubt giving us a glimpse as to what we could expect from this group of coaches.

    Following the end of the third day of our training Joseph, a director of BOYCHILD, took our team to visit a family in the area that BOYCHILD helps support. We spoke to the parents who have seven children, five of which are both physically and mentally disabled. With Joseph helping to translate from Swahili we heard from the father who spoke about how much he enjoys life and only wants to see his children grow up and be happy. The father went on to explain how he had recently lost his job as a school teacher and is now removing weeds from peoples farms to earn a living. Making it all the more difficult to provide for his seven children. I cannot begin to imagine the challenges that he and his wife must face on a daily basis. To raise five severely disabled children with limited resources and with the complete absence of health care is no small feat. In parts of Africa there are many misconceptions and myths surrounding disabled people. These myths have served to further alienate disabled people, making their lives all the more arduous. BOYCHILD does their best to provide the family with maize, flour and sugar and has helped raise the capital for the mother to start her own second hand clothes business – providing a sustainable source of income.

    I continue to be amazed by the efforts being made by people all over the world trying to make their communities a better place to live. Meeting people like Lillian and Joseph force you to be optimistic about the future of Mbita and Kenya. This diverse country possesses a diverse group of people who have different ideas on how to solve their problems.

    DSC02372_1024x768px

  • “What is the Biggest Obstacle to Equality?”

    May 11, 2014. The best first-day question ever asked by a CAC participant: FACT – Well, it may be, it may not be, but to be asked, “In all the countries you have visited, what do you think is the biggest obstacle in the way of equality?” on the very first day of training says a great deal about the wonderful people we work with.

    Oti leads the coaches in a fun game of Head-Catch, think fast!

    Oti leads the coaches in a fun game of Head-Catch, think fast!

    CAC continues its journey through Kenya, planting the seeds of social impact across this beautiful country. Last week found us in the city of Eldoret, known for its consistent success in athletics, but with a passion for the beautiful game that feeds right into the CAC fire.

    Senior staff member, Nora Dooley, leading our programs in Kenya this year, was joined by Community Impact Coach, Charles Otieno Sisia (Oti), from one of our most valued partners, Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP), as they trained the coaches in the sports network created by KESOFO (Kenya Community Sports Foundation).

    The group of participants this week included a wide range of characters, all with big smiles and big personalities. Our team, as always, had the welcome challenge of designing a curriculum that accommodated everyone, from very little football experience to lifetimes of playing and coaching the game, from referees to players to teachers, and even some journalists thrown in the mix, there was a wonderful mélange of culture and experience.

    Coaches work together during the Pairs Scrimmage

    Coaches work together during the Pairs Scrimmage

    All in all, the games this week went fantastically well as the participants were always ready to have fun and truly grasped the notion of using the power of football as a means of education. There were the usual favorites such as 95% Football, Adebayor Uses a Condom Tag, and Scary Soccer, but there were also some new standouts, the rising stars of the CAC curriculum. One of these games we are calling the Pairs Scrimmage – self-explanatory and unbelievably fun! Players must not let go of their partner’s hand while playing a regular game of football. This simple adjustment begs next-level teamwork and communication and the participants were seldom without a smile while they played.

    Another new game is part of our Child Rights module. After an enlightening Child Rights Protection discussion where equality was the prevailing issue, we played our Right of Children with Disabilities Game. This is another game that is, seemingly, a simple game of football. Then we add changes to trigger the desired social impact, and in this case that meant restrictions. One player on each team could only play 1-touch. One player on each team could only play with one of their feet. One player on one team had to play with one foot by jumping on that foot, while one player on the other team had to play with their arms behind their back. Two players could only walk, while the rest were without restrictions and could play as they pleased. We discussed the game afterwards and when asked why we play this game, participants responded with answers like, “challenging us to solve our problem!” – which we love – or “punishments if we make a mistake.” The latter response played perfectly into the matter at hand – were they punishments? Did you do anything to deserve them? The participant in question realized they had not, and then we transitioned into the discussion about whether people with physical and mental disabilities ask for those circumstances at birth. Of course not, so why should they be treated any differently from anybody else? This game provides a striking visual of the realities of having disabilities, the importance of understanding the difficulties that so many people struggle with every day, and the overwhelming need for social inclusion.

    Chalk it up to another terrific week in Kenya. These now CAC-certified coaches are some of the strongest, most assertive leaders we have worked with. From what our team saw during coaching sessions with children in the community, and from what we heard during discussions and closing remarks, these men and women get it – and they will undoubtedly be spreading the love, continuing to work together to harness the power of football in the greater Eldoret region in the name of youth development, female empowerment, and above all, equality.

    Students learn how to take care of their bodies during Ronaldo for Health & Wellness

    Students learn how to take care of their bodies during Ronaldo for Health & Wellness

     

    To learn how our Staff responded to that wonderfully biting question, comment below or email