Pathways to Female Empowerment
September 13th 2017. CAC Community Impact Coach Lorik Hartun wrote about her experience with CAC and our partners GOALS Armenia in Dilijan. We want to sincerely thank the Games 4 Good Foundation for their support of this partnership in 2017.
Exactly the same day last year I was just an inspired participant of the CAC’s ‘ASK for Choice’ program in Yerevan, Armenia. While I was getting to know the CAC team and playing games, I was thinking that I have always tried to raise awareness about social issues. But, I had never thought about combining sports and social awareness. That was the time when a spark occurred in my mind and I approached Nora (the head coach), saying I will definitely continue implementing your games.
I got to know about GOALS (Girls of Armenia Leadership Soccer) during the same program and I offered my help and cooperate with them. After a while their team approached me and offered me to work with them as the director of programming and training. I accepted their offer and along with several educators and trainers from all over Armenia, we passionately continued to implement CAC games, which incorporate themes that need to be discussed, such as: gender equality, women’s rights, discrimination, stereotypes etc. After a few months of being involved in programming and monitoring the NGO’s programs, I was given the chance of being GOALS’ Executive Director. Now being GOALS’ CEO, as well as a partner of CAC, we have been able to organize several successful events with the idea of raising awareness of social issues our communities face. For example, this year we organized a CAC training in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, as well as at one of the greenest cities of Armenia; Dilijan.
Markus and Jamie from Coaches Across Continents were leading the programs in Armenia and I was excited to join them as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) in Dilijan.
On the first day of our training, as Markus, Jamie and I were walking along the beautiful green field of UWC, where our training would be held; I was looking at the faces of the participants and I could already predict their questions of what exactly we are going to do and how sport and social issues could be involved. Training started. On the first day some of them, especially the adults, didn’t feel comfortable doing more active games such as dancing mingle mingle and doing crazy things in the circle of friends. But on the last day almost everyone was doing fun activities. The point being that: as we grow up we think we shouldn’t be free and have fun like children, but fun and freedom shouldn’t have any age limitations.
The most challenging part for us during the training was bringing up discussions about women’s rights and equality in Armenia. Most of them were denying the existence of gender inequalities. People were also applying their generic ideas of their community to the rest of the country. We gave them some hints and a place for them to think and study more about those topics.
I am very happy that 8 participants from the program joined the GOALS ‘after school’ program where they chose one of my designed modules, which focused on: discrimination and equality, leadership and problem solving, and lastly environment and healthy lifestyle. The coaches will implement the games once per week adapting them for their individual needs as they represent different disciplines such as, basketball, track and field, wrestling, boxing etc. I feel confident that through the program the coaches are now well-equipped to apply the games and activities with their students and players. And I am already looking forward to next year’s program where we want to welcome many returners so they can continue on their journey of becoming Self-Directed Learners.
It is very fun working with “nature-boy” Markus as he gets called by Jamie, the Scotsman on our team. I am already looking forward to working with them in Tbilisi, Georgia.
Mintridge’s Week In Cambodia
August 23rd 2016. We were delighted to have Mintridge Events‘ Alex Paske and ambassador Pamela Cookey join us for our first week this year in Phnom Penh with IndoChina Starfish Foundation. This was their experience.
Monday 8th August 2016
Following arrivals from the UK, Malawi and Thailand, there were some very tired travellers within the Coaches Across Continents and Mintridge teams yesterday and therefore early nights were in order ahead of a busy schedule this week.
05:45 – BEEP BEEP of the alarm and the CAC and Mintridge teams are up and ready for the first coaching sessions of the programme. A light breakfast was in order before a tuk tuk journey to the IndoChina Starfish Foundation (ISF) training ground approximately an hour away from our hotel in Phnom Penh. (ISF are CAC’s local partner here). We were treated to the sights of a Cambodian rush hour throughout the journey to the theme tune of travellers beeping their horn – mopeds galore!
Together with the two Community Impact Coaches that have travelled from Siem Riep, Rueben and Charlie delivered sessions to the eagerly awaiting footballers. For many, this is the fourth year of working with Coaches Across Continents and for others they were arriving for the very first time. Charlie opened the programme with a series of questions for everyone, for example:
“Do you coach men and women?”
“Do you coach youth and children?”
“Do you believe men and women should have the same opportunities?”
“Do you deliver sessions that incorporate the environment?”
The “Circle of Friends” kick started the warm up with Rooney as the role model focus for the coaches followed by a health and wellness game to encourage creativity.
As the morning progressed, the ISF coaches grew in confidence and were generating future ideas for the groups that they lead which represents the Self-Directed Learning process. For example, the proactive nature of moving to a cone to receive a ball rather than standing and waiting was used to echo a message of being proactive to getting a job – a subtle message for the coaches to take to their own communities and deliver.
Other examples of game ideas with hidden social messages including caring for the environment followed. For example; bibs were used to represent rubbish and coaches were tasked with collecting bibs (rubbish) and delivering it to a coned area (representing rubbish tips). A simple yet very effective message for the coaches to take back to the groups that they coach – particularly for youth groups.
The sessions ended and lunch was in order, not before a tuk tuk ride back into the city though for CAC and Mintridge to experience the sights of Phnom Penh once more.
The afternoon was spent in the wonderful setting of Rabbit School, CAC watched the coaches that they have been working with for the past four years deliver a football session to contrasting disabilities. Here, CAC could see the progress that has been made within these particular ISF coaches and the impact that it was having on the youth groups.
A great end to our first full day of the programme before returning to our hotel for a delicious local meal.
Tuesday 9th August 2016
Another early rise for the CAC and Mintridge teams today as we returned to the training ground to focus on areas that the coaches felt were issues in their own communities. They raised these issues at the end of the session yesterday and therefore the CAC team took these away to create an action plan for today’s session.
Despite a minor hiccup and slight delay for Ruben and the CIC coaches in a broken down tuk tuk, the rest of the morning followed with no setbacks.
Areas of focus for the coaches included:
- Traffic Accidents
- Power & Corruption
- Saving money
- Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking
These five areas were conveyed in the following ways:
- Traffic Accidents
The warm up was presented in a circle with players following a role model (Hope Solo) as a command task. Ten players ran through the circle at a time following the completion of their task representing a sense of chaos like the roads of Phnom Penh.
- Power & Corruption
The mirror game was used to demonstrate the government. One player would come forward and their opposition would have to follow the exact movements that they do. A progression could be that if a bad example is given by the “leader”, the other person does not have to follow and this and the next person steps in and takes on the task.
Goals were set by the individual teams in their own area, they wanted to get a certain number of bibs / balls / cones from the middle against the other teams playing. Some teams met their goals but others did not achieve theirs and therefore an element of cheating was brought in – and players could steal from other teams. This is clearly not the end message that is wanted and therefore groups felt they should bring in a sharing element so that all teams could achieve their goal.
- Saving Money
For this game, there were two teams that competed against each other. Once seven passes had been completed by a team, they received money which represented money which they would save.
- Alcohol, Drugs & Smoking
Players that represented bad influences held a ball on the outside of the playing area. The remaining players attempted to run from end to end without being hit, if they were hit, they joined the bad influences to try and hit others. Progressions were introduced to include protection against the bad influences.
We travelled to Stung Meanchey to be greeted by waiters and waitresses in the English class at ISF, they had created a restaurant for us to enjoy and speak to them in English, putting what they had learnt in lessons into practice.
Following this, we were delighted to accept a tour of the local community by ISF where the majority of students that attend the school live with their families. A particular highlight was meeting the Community Librarian Mr Tong who took great pride in his work and had such passion when explaining to his visitors about his duties. CAC and Mintridge could have stopped and chatted to him all afternoon, however a certain netball session was in order.
Pamela Cookey, Mintridge’s netball ambassador and Ex England Netball Captain led a session for ISF students that started with video footage of Pamela’s career highlights. Netball has never been seen by the majority of the group so this was able to give them an insight into what was in order for the next hour.
Pamela started with the very basic skills; passing, pass & move skills and an introduction to defending. It was incredible to see the hunger for learning the new game and the ease with which they picked it up. The session ended with medals awarded to some of the students that showed great potential as well as Pamela’s autograph cards for each player!
Pamela was extremely grateful for the Coaches Across Continents CIC coaches who had also never experienced netball but eased into aiding her with translation and coaching as well.
A great way to round off a fantastic day as the team returned to the hotel for the evening to prepare for the day ahead tomorrow.
Wednesday 10th August 2016
The CAC and Mintridge teams returned to the ISF training group for another morning’s programme. An increased number of coaches arrived today following the end of some school exams.
Today’s session was to focus on “ASK For Choice” which will help the coaches create games focused around gender equality within their communities:
- The warm up centred around the coaches coming up with safe places for women in their communities. Hospitals, schools, homes were some of the places that were considered and these became commands for their first circle task.
- “Jump Like A Girl” followed which gave an insight into both female and male visions of the different ways men and women play sport. For example, when tasked to “Throw Like A Man”, the group demonstrated strong, able throws which was a stark contrast to the “Throw Like A Girl” which largely showed gentle, weak examples. The group gathered at the end of the task to discuss this with the CAC coaches to find out the reasons why these stereotypes appear and how this makes women feel.
- The coaches told CAC that they felt woman should have the right to education, sport, laughing and life and these four words became different cones in the zoned area. The group was tasked to run to the cone that was called out to cause repetition of women’s rights within their sessions.
- Healthy and unhealthy gates were created for the fourth game of the morning. CAC coaches called out different words and individuals had to make a choice as to whether it was healthy or unhealthy and run to that particular gate. For example; smoking, fruit, unprotected sex were called.
- Mintridge’s Pamela Cookey led the next session which focussed on careers that women can aspire to. Individuals came up with different careers such as teachers, doctors, football coaches and if their career was called out by Pamela then they were able to race their opposition for the ball and attempt to score a goal.
- The final game had two teams played a normal game of football except one team had more ways of scoring points – this game represents inequality within communities and the group gathered at the end to discuss ways in which inequality can reduce as well as the perception around it.
The final part of the morning enabled the men and women to split. The men focussed on Child Rights policies while women gathered in a safe place to discuss women’s rights. The area gave them a chance to open up and delve into the issues that they face within their communities such as sexual abuse through technology. “How can we protect against this?” “What rights should women have?” The session is hopefully the start of women opening up and taking the thoughts discussed outside of the sporting environment and into communities.
This afternoon was incredibly exciting for Mintridge as ISF kindly invited them to their second school in Chbar Ampov. After touring the school and local community where the students live, Pamela Cookey led a presentation with a powerful message. She spoke about the lessons that sport has given her and the challenges that she has learnt to overcome through it. Through photos and video footage, the students and staff were able to capture Pamela’s key messages as well as have an insight into a brand new sport…netball!
Following wonderful gifts, Pamela took to the courts and led a short netball session with some of the students. Enthusiasm was definitely not missing as they grasped the various passes, footwork and of course, Pamela brought in some shooting! It was a great way to round of the day! Thank you the Indochina Starfish Foundation for such incredible hospitality.
Thursday 11th August 2016
Our penultimate day of the programme today saw a focus on child rights and protection. As soon as the CAC and Mintridge teams arrived at the ground, the ISF coaches were raring to go with some of the games that they had created themselves.
Firstly though, Pamela led a warm up to focus on leadership skills. The group was split into fives and numbered one to five in a line. Number one began and led their group in different directions commanding different tasks such as high knees, squats, star jumps and so on. If your number was called, you left your group to go and lead another and create your own tasks. As Pamela gathered the group at the end of the programme they explained that as they became leader, they grew in confidence and it enabled creativity; something that can be taken back to different communities.
The first session created and led by some of the ISF coaches alone for today followed and this helped raise questions such as:
“Is there anything that is preventing these rights?”
“Who can help us practice these rights?”
The game centred around 4 gates which represented different rights:
- Participation in sports
Once a type of right was called, your team had to race to the gate and pick up an item that would be returned to base. Different limits were put on the game which the group explained aided teamwork and intelligence. The limitations could also be used to represent disabilities for example.
Following the feedback from CAC, ISF coaches moved onto the following game which focussed on different types of child abuse such as:
- Parents prohibiting their child from going to school.
- Child Labour
The idea is for players to represent types of abuse and stand on the outside of the circle with balls. These balls are thrown into the remaining members of the group; if a player is hit they are knocked down which represents being abused. As the game progresses, players in bibs come in and tag those that have been abused and those still aiming to avoid it. The bibbed players represent types of protection such as organisations, teachers, religious leaders, coaches and family. A progression on from this could be one you have been tagged by the bibbed player following on from being hit, you can also collect a bib and help protect. This represents being able to avoid continued abuse and being able to help others. The third game followed a similar theme except it was centred around the game of tag / stuck in the mud.
One question posed by the group was “How can you stop people using their rights to abuse other people’s?”
The fourth game followed a similar theme and idea to the first game of the day. Teams raced to a particular zone when a child’s right was called. This enabled the group to pose the question, “What happens if a child can only access one right?”
CAC ended the games with a circuits session which emphasise the point of support systems. Firstly, teams went around the circuit where each member had to complete each station. However, on the second time around the circuit, only one member had to complete each challenge which helped complete it much more quickly. The group shared that they felt this represented a support system such as a family or football community proving teamwork. This could also be used for an ASK For Choice game with each challenge representing a stereotypical gender career choice or other types of social inclusion.
To finish the morning’s session, teams worked together to create games to lead in the final day tomorrow focussing on areas that they felt were important to their communities and the teams that they coach.
Following lunch at one of Leo’s favourites, the team headed to Krousar Thmey Deaf Mute Blind School Children School to see another ISF coaching session take place. As well as football, we were treated to a spot of hop scotch and time in the playground. We are still children at heart! The football session proves that sport really has no barriers; non verbal communicational skills were just as powerful and successful in achieving goals and it would be great for more to see this.
An early night for CAC and Mintridge was in order ahead of the final day tomorrow, bring it on!
Friday 12th August 2016
We don’t want the programme to end! However today, we had our final day with the ISF coaches before they take what they have learnt into their own communities.
The Mintridge team worked with the women for the first hour of the day revisiting areas from Wednesday’s ASK For Choice session and delving further into the issues raised. Later in the morning, the women would present the rights and policies to the men.
“How do we tell the men about our rights if they aren’t willing to listen?” was a key question posed by some members of the discussion. Ideas included creating an environment that they feel comfortable in, for example, a football match with equal teams or karaoke party to deliver the messages.
“How do we educate parents that are not happy with female coaches or rights in general?” followed and solutions to this posing question included taking photographs, showing trophies and medals to demonstrate the enjoyment and pride that marries their achievements.
Coaches were soon given a short amount of time to prepare for their coach backs which were prepared yesterday. Areas chosen to focus on were:
- The protection of forests
- Eradicating temptation
- Drug Abuse
- Women’s Violation
The games followed patterns and themes that CAC had demonstrated earlier in the week. However, the coaches had created their own progressions and ideas to each one. Following feedback to each other, the six groups gathered and were presented with certificates for their participation in the week. Obligatory selfies and team photographs were taken before CAC and Mintridge left for the final time.
A particular thank you to some of the group that helped us with translation throughout the week, without which it would have been impossible. We have thoroughly enjoyed such a wonderful insight into the ISF Football community which largely falls down to Leo Brogan who has looked after us no end this week, thank you.
As Mintridge head home tomorrow, Pamela and Alex enjoyed the Russian Market to get their must have souvenirs! The Royal Palace was next on the agenda this afternoon which was beautiful and our Tour Guide gave us a real insight into life as a Cambodian King. The farewell meal was a fantastic way to end a great week.
Being An Ally
February 5th 2016. Long-term volunteer, CJ Fritz, writes on his experience in Léogâne with four-year partner GOALS Haiti.
Last week in Leogane, Haiti, I helped run an ASK For Choice program for the first time. ASK For Choice is a CAC program dedicated to gender equity, and involves discussing the problem of gender inequity with groups of only women as well as mixed groups.
Heading to our Monday morning session with only the female participants I was nervous. When we got to the field I was pacing back and forth, trying to figure out how to go about coaching in this completely new scenario. As a male coach, how do I speak with a group of female coaches about gender equity? How can I pretend to understand the position that they are coming from? Would it be better if Nora and Emily just ran this session, and I sat out?
As I busied myself fretting about how to handle the situation I realized something; this isn’t about trying to be on the same team, it’s about trying to be an ally. We don’t need to share the same starting point if we are both aiming for the same finishing point.
As the week progressed I began to think more and more about why I want to be an ally.
I have a younger sister who entered high school back in September. She is intelligent, active, is incredibly funny and excels especially in keeping her older brothers’ egos in check.
I choose to be an ally because of her. It scares me to think that she might be told not to play the sport that she loves because sports are for boys. It scares me that she could make only 70 cents to every dollar that a man with the same job makes. And it scares me that she could be pressured into not doing the things that she loves to do because they aren’t “things that women should do.”
But what scares me more than anything is that there are millions of girls and women living in countries with far more inequity who deserve the same chance to achieve that which the boys and men around them are afforded.
As the week progressed, we heard some fantastic and inspiring things from the women with whom we were working. They were motivated and prepared to fight incredibly hard for their rights.
The women in the group gave me hope for change in Leogane, but we didn’t get the same fierce support of equity from the men in the group. It is a great start to have such a motivated group of women who are ready for change, but they can’t go it alone.
In congress, bills don’t become laws without people willing to work across party lines. Two improvising actors have to work together to make a scene flow. Men and women have to work together to bring us closer to gender equity.
By the end of the week, we began seeing some signs of progress. The men in the group seemed less defensive than they had at first, and the group began to come up with some ways they can start making change in the present.
If there is a rock you want moved and two people tie ropes around it and pull in opposite directions, no matter how hard either person pulls, or how badly they want the rock to move, it will not budge. It’s up to us to decide; are we going to pull in the same direction, or do we want to play tug-of-war forever?
CAC support the film ‘The Beautiful Game’
October 30th 2013. Coaches Across Continents are a supporting partner of The Beautiful Game, an inspiring film about the impact soccer has had on women in South Africa. This film tracks the lives of young women who play for City Lads Ladies and believe that the sport can liberate women throughout the world. The women have become a family as they battle gender norms, homophobia and discrimination. The film, released in the near future, will highlight soccer’s influence on human rights and its ability to empower communities to change their social environment.
Three professional soccer players- Andre Akpan, Joanna Lohman and Qiana Martin- are ambassadors and have endorsed the film. The executive producers are Wilder Knight who won an Oscar as part of ‘The Cove’ and Sam Pollard who produced Emmy nominated documentaries such as ‘Four Little Girls’. Therefore the film is expected to garner significant media attention which will help to demonstrate the power of soccer to a wide audience.
Coaches Across Continents work in South Africa and devote a great proportion of the award winning Hat-Trick initiative curriculum to highlighting gender equity and female empowerment. Furthermore, our evidence which suggest soccer can have a significant impact on addressing social inequalities means that the film is an ideal fit for our strategy. We are very pleased to be included as a partner of this film and would really appreciate it if you could check out the film at the link below and spread awareness of the great potential for soccer to impact positively on human rights globally.