• Football for HIV Education in South Africa

    November 10, 2014. Markus Bensch – Senior Staff – returns to his old home in Durban, South Africa to run the CAC program with long-time partners Whizzkids United.

    From October 2012 till December 2013 I volunteered for Whizzkids United (WKU) in Durban, South Africa. Back then WKU had two workplaces, the office in Durban and the Health Academy (HA) in the Edendale Township 70 km away from Durban. The administrative office was in Durban and at the HA children and youth of Edendale can access health services and participate in different programs after school. The focus of WKU’s work is HIV/AIDS prevention through football. WKU is running year-round Life-Skill sessions at local schools that use football to educate students on HIV and raise awareness for the services and programs at the HA.

    Ten months after I left WKU I was lucky to be able to come back, see some of my old colleagues and friends and conduct a one-week CAC program together with my current colleague Kelly Conheeney. I’m happy that I can say colleague, because Kelly just decided to be on board full time with CAC for 2015. Welcome Kelly!!!

    For CAC it is the 5th year that we’ve trained the coaches from WKU and Edendale Township with the difference that the Football for Hope (FFH) Center that WKU has been rewarded with is finally finished and the previous two workplaces are now united at the Center. We were lucky that we could train with the coaches on the brand new artificial pitch and make use of the multifunctional room in the new building.

    Kelly and I welcomed 19 coaches on Monday morning. But first I received a very warm welcome from my old colleagues. It felt for me like I never left and I realized how much the WKU staff had taken me into their hearts. I was very happy to work with some of my old colleagues during our program.

    We started with a general introduction into Football for social impact and into the work of CAC, because it was most of the participants first time attending a CAC training. When we got on the pitch and introduced “Circle of Friends” and “Messi Skills for Life” we realized they enjoyed those games and were capable of identifying the social impact messages of the games very quickly. Circle of Friends is CAC’s most played game, because every session starts with this warm up. Players stand in a circle and one person starts to show an exercise while moving through the circle and finding a person on the outside for an exchange that includes a move (i.e. high five) and the use of voice (i.e. shouting your name or favorite football club). Now different players start to move through the circle doing the exercise that was shown to them and finally finding a person on the outside for the exchange before this person starts to do the same. This game is so much fun and often encourages people to introduce silly as well as challenging moves which creates an exciting atmosphere. This group was so enthusiastic and it was so much fun that from the 2nd day we let them lead the circle and introduce their own exercises. This game works brilliantly to warm up our bodies, but also to warm up and make use of our voice. Another social impact is to communicate with other people in the circle, concentrate to do the exercise correctly and to remember the exchange on the outside.

    One of the focuses of the training was HIV/AIDS education, because the battle against this disease is one of the biggest challenges for South Africa as a whole and the community of Edendale. So we played all our five Adebayor games that teach through football how everybody can protect him/herself from getting infected with HIV and take care of his/her sexual health. In the afternoon different participants were responsible to coach the CAC games they learned to the students that came to the HA. One of the female coaches just adapted our “Can Adebayor see HIV?” into a conflict resolution game and asked “Can you see who stole your pen?”. In the original version two lines of players with their hands in the back are facing each other and alternately have to guess who on the other team has the bottler cap or small stone in his/her hands which represents HIV. The social impact of the game is that you can’t know just by looking at the other person if he/she has HIV or not. The only way to know is to get tested. The young woman changed the social impact of the game and taught the youth that you can’t know who stole you pen just by looking at the other person and she discussed with them different peaceful ways the resolve conflicts. We were very happy to see that participants were so quickly capable of adapting games and make them their own.

    Two of the challenges for WKU over the past few years were to secure that participants from past years would come back for further training and to implement CAC games into their curriculum and trainings. The lack of implementation was also due to the fact that the construction of the FFH Center didn’t start for years and once it started it took more then a year to finish it and during that time WKU had to run their services next to a construction site. Together with the management we set some goals for the next year and we very much look forward to see our games being regularly played at the FFH Center and implemented in the schools in Edendale.

    We want to say “Thank you!” to WKU for being again such great hosts for our training. A very special “Thank you!” goes to our two host families in the Edendale Township who spoiled us with warm African cordiality, which includes delicious local food! To stay with locals always adds a very special flavor to our unique programs of letting us experience the local vibe and give us a better understanding of the local conditions.

     

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  • Partnership with Peace One Day A Huge Success

    October 17, 2014.  Earlier this year Coaches Across Continents announced the largest partnership in sport for social impact.  Together with Peace One Day, we teamed up to supply organizations with a free soccer resource packet that uses CAC games to educate about peace and encourage the development of skill sets that lead to peace building.  On 21 September, these efforts came to the fruition when millions around the world celebrated and recognized Peace Day.

    Together with Peace One Day, Coaches Across Continents is using their One Day One Goal platform to use football as a peace building educational exercise.  Along with their other efforts, the goal for 2014 is to have Peace Day recognized by one billion people globally.  This first year of our partnership was a great start to spreading that awareness.  Overall nearly four hundred sport for social development organizations took advantage of this free resource to educate their communities on peace building practices.  These included organizations on all six continents, and they were distributed and available in six different languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Swahili).

    The focus of this year’s celebrations was on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region of Africa (focusing on Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania).  So far in those five countries we have confirmation of the resource packet being used by 50 organizations to promote peace, with more coming forward every day.  Each of these organizations also held an event for 21 September, the International Day of Peace.  These include CAC implementing community partners as well as organizations who have heard about the power of sport through other avenues like StreetFootballWorld, One World Futbol, FIFA Football for Hope, and Peace One Day.

    Stories, pictures, and videos from around the world continue to arrive speaking of the incredible power that football has as a unifying factor.  Check out some of them on our Facebook page.  If you or your organization want to tell your story from Peace Day, please contact us at: or

    Celebrating Peace in Goma, Congo

    Celebrating Peace in Goma, Congo

    Celebrating Peace in Diadema, Brazil

    Celebrating Peace in Diadema, Brazil

    Celebrating Peace in Kenya

    Celebrating Peace in Kenya

     

     

  • 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.

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    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.

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    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%.

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  • West Africa 1971 and 2013

    April 5, 2013.  By Earl Strassberger.  I arrived in Ghana at night after 26 hours of travel.  I got a ride to the hostel, so it was not until the next morning when fond memories started to come back to me.  From January 1971 to April 1974 I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia.  This is my first time back to Africa since those days.

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    Coach Earl in action at Play Soccer Ghana

    Before I talk about Cape Coast and Play Soccer Ghana I have to mention what is different and what has not changed.  In the 1970s there was no Internet, no cell phones, next to no TV sets, and bottled water was not everywhere.  We carried iodine tablets and a canteen.  What has not changed is that the food is outstanding.  Banku is new to me, umm-umm! The pineapple is amazing.  The other CAC coaches are laughing with me because I take pictures of all the good food.  My friends at home wish they could taste it.  In addition the people are still so friendly.  You walk by a taxi stand and every driver and their helpers call out to you, “Where are you going?” “Ride with me.”  As you walk along the street little kids come up to you to say hello, and may ask for a gift.  Often they call you obruni (white man).  In Liberia it was quipo, in Ethiopia it was forengy (from foreigner).

    Community Impact Coach Nico from Tanzania loving his time in Ghana!

    Community Impact Coach Nico from Tanzania loving his time in Ghana!

    So what about CAC?  First of all I am meeting the nicest and most interesting people.  Nico, a Tanzanian, was the head of CACs first-ever partner program in 2008.  Now he is CAC’s first-ever Community Impact Coach working alongside the CAC coaches. What a dynamic guy.  Then there is Emily, who recently graduated college in Hawaii, moved to Ghana and became part of CAC.  Nicole, another young lady who lives in Casablanca, Morocco, works for Women Win and is here because of the partnership between CAC and Women Win.  They remind me of my daughter, watching out for me – “Need some help”; “Let me carry that suitcase”; etc.  Both are amazing soccer players and instructors.  It is fun being the oldest person, by far!  I impressed Emily in that I use email, Facebook, and Instagram on my smart phone.  We watched Barcelona play Paris-St. Germain at dinner.  At the end of dinner the waitress came with the bill, looked around for less than one second and brought it to me.  Brian said, “Thanks Dad”.

    Most important is our partner program here in Cape Coast, Play Soccer Ghana.  It consists of a terrific group of people and coaches – enthusiastic, cooperative, eager to learn, and always trying their best.  And they are great players.  We used a FIFA-built, small, turf field called a Football For Hope Center, a legacy from the 2010 World Cup.  Sometimes we had 25 coaches all scrimmaging with one ball.  I was amazed at how players found open space and completed passes regularly.

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    Coach Earl takes a moment to talk to the coaches of Play Soccer Ghana

    Many of these games we teach are played all over the world.  It is the messages on Social Impact that we are conveying that makes CAC different.  Many, if not all, of these messages – responsibility, peer pressure, communication, and more – would be just as appropriate in the United States.  The coaches we have been working with are always positive, and why not.  The Chairman of the Ghana Football Association, Central Region, Mr. M. N. Doe gave the opening and closing keynote speeches.  Coach James Kuuku Dadzie of the Black Queens (the Ghana Women’s National team) attended the ceremonies and observed some of our training sessions.  Later one day we watched him run a “street” team through their paces.  This team consisted of teenage boys and girls.  Some of the girls are on the National team.

    The week was great.  We finish up tomorrow morning and then do some sight-seeing, before starting our next program next week in Accra.  I can’t wait.

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    The FIFA Football For Hope Center in Cape Coast, Ghana