• Pacquiao Loses, Tacloban Wins

    May 13th 2015. Community Impact Coach, Charlie Pomroy, from Cambodia implementing partner, Globalteer, gives us the play by play for our second year with Football 4 Life in Tacloban, Philippines.

    Day One

    I would consider myself somewhat of a traveler. I have traveled to many countries, seen amazing places and met amazing people along the way. I have also had my fair share of mishaps but nothing could have prepared me for my first away trip with CAC. With what should have been a routine journey from Siem Reap in Cambodia, where I have been based running a sports programme for the past three years, to Tacloban in the Philippines, turned into one of the longest journeys of my traveling career. After several cancellations and delays, a missed boat, and a nap outside a Wendy’s at Manila airport, my trip had racked up 37 hours. This was only bettered by Nora who had traveled for 50 hours from Indonesia.

    In true CAC style, fresh from the boat and with luggage in hand, we landed in Tacloban and got straight onto the soccer field. With half the day behind us, Nora and I quickly got stuck in and began with the warm up game; Circle of Friends, followed by the Messi games. First impression of the group in the Philippines is a good one. The group is enthusiastic, eager to learn and ready to have fun. I coach my first CAC game: Messi for Conflict Resolution. I have been eager to get my hands on the group and enjoy the session. What strikes me when I am coaching is just how open the group is. This throws me ever so slightly. When coaching in Cambodia it can sometimes be like pulling teeth to get them to talk and open up, so discussion time is hard. Cambodians are shy. It feels like they don’t want to trouble anyone with their problems, so they suffer in silence. What really hits me about this group, in the Philippines, is that they are so open and confident. They are aware of their issues and are ready to find ways to solve them. It’s really refreshing. The rest of the afternoon flies by.

    Despite being so very tired, working with a group like this gives you so much energy. You want to work harder because you can really see, instantly, the right notes are being hit. Nora and I discuss the next few days and become really excited about the prospect of challenging this group. Their surface answers are fantastic but can we get a little deeper? As coaches this is the kind of stuff you live for. This is why we do what we do. This is why it is the best job in the world. Roll on tomorrow!………. Oh there is the small matter of Mayweather & Pacquiao, not that anyone here in the Philippines has mentioned it…hehehe…!!!!

    Day Two

    The world title fight lost us most of the day, the Philippines came to a complete stand still to watch their national hero Pacquiao lose on points to Floyd Mayweather. It wasn’t the result we had hoped for. The whole country was upset. Some were angry, others were crying. This was a massive blow.

    Nora and I knew the group would be down so wanted to be high energy and give them lots of fun games to play. The group turned up on the field still visibly upset about the morning’s events. We started with a financial literacy game so that we could get the energy up from the off. It worked. We then launched into Perpetua Skills for Life followed by two more games.

    It was during Perpetua for Conflict resolution that something struck me and as I began to think about it further it brought a smile to my face. One of the female coaches, Patty, was moving the ball from one end of the field to the other using a very unorthodox method (the challenge of the game being to find different, creative ways to move the ball). The smile on her face was electric. She was beaming from ear to ear. I looked around and everyone was doing it. The weight of the loss that morning had gone. I was then reminded of a film I had watched about the Typhoon that had hit Tacloban in 2013, which featured Patty. She said in the film that soccer had helped her through that. Soccer had given her the strength to begin rebuilding and to begin dreaming again. This made me smile from ear to ear. This beautiful game has the power to change lives. No matter the loss, no matter the heartache there are some of us that are lucky enough to be able to turn to soccer and let that help us through.

    Tomorrow we go deeper and begin to challenge the group.

    Day Three

    It was our first full day with the group and as we arrived at the pitch Nora and I were very excited. We opened the day with Jack Wilshere. The group was in tip-top form and getting through the games very quickly. I coached three games with my favorite being Wilshere for Conflict Resolution. This game really focuses the group and they are forced to work together to find a solution to their problem.

    The group has some really strong female leaders here in the Philippines. It’s really refreshing to see. However, the most notable thing about today is the young boys, from a local drop in center, coming to life. They’re growing each and every session and it’s a wonderful thing to watch. At the beginning of the week they were unsure of their surroundings and very reluctant to get involved but as the days have gone by and as the games come thick and fast they are really beginning to get a sense of what sport for social impact means. The coach-backs tomorrow should be a lot of fun.

    Day Four

    Today was coach-backs and by far my favorite day so far. This is the day we really get to see how much has sunk in and we can begin developing social impact coaches. The coaches have an excellent morning. What I really love about the group is they are challenging themselves. They are not choosing easy games and just copying what they have been taught, they are really trying to adapt the games. The girls in particular today are excelling. As I mentioned before the group here in the Philippines has some extraordinary girls and some fantastic role models for the next generation.

    During lunch Nora and I watch one of the younger girls in the group spend the whole lunch break kicking a soccer ball against a wall. She is having a great time. What is wonderful about this moment is outside of the soccer field this girl is so very shy. She is nervous talking to people, she was reluctant to be part of photos and rarely interacts with other people. Put a soccer ball at her feet and she comes to life, her confidence grows, she takes on players and she runs at full speed. This girl doesn’t have a care in the world when she has a football at her feet.

    It is a great moment for Nora and me and one we enjoyed watching.

    Day Five

    Today was a day off. Nora and I used the time to get our admin work done and so forth. The highlight of the day though was not the fantastic hot chocolate I had or not having to set an alarm. It was the moment when Nora and I were walking to an ATM and across the road were three of the coaches from the course coaching a group of children. The young girl I mentioned from yesterday came running out and gave us both a giant hug.

    You cannot buy moments like that!!!

  • Rebuilding Tacloban with F4L and UNICEF

    October 15, 2014.  Most people have only heard of Tacloban, Philippines because of Typhoon Haiyan (called Yolanda in the Philippines) which struck on November 8th, 2013.  It was one of the strongest tropical typhoons ever recorded to strike a populated area with the official death toll reaching well over 6,000.  However, if you ask any local, they will tell you that the actual numbers are much higher; some bodies were still being found two months after the storm had passed.  Just under a year has passed, and we have found ourselves working alongside many other aid agencies in Tacloban. Partnering with Football 4 Life, UNICEF, and the Asia Society for Social Improvement and Sustainable Transformation (ASSIST), we have come to Tacloban to provide sport for social impact training to coaches and teachers as they continue to rebuild their community.

    Yolanda has left most of the worlds’ consciousness as we start thinking of more immediate global concerns, but in Tacloban they are still recovering and will continue to rebuild for years to come.  The visits of celebrities like David Beckham have passed, but tens of thousands still live in temporary bunkhouses, buildings (including schools, hospitals, and businesses) are still being constructed, and neighborhoods are adjusting to their new daily lives.  It is because of this rebuilding that we were so excited to work alongside three great partners who see sport as an avenue to restore normalcy to daily life but also to use it as a tool for education and social empowerment.

    Football 4 Life has started operating in eight locations around Tacloban, targeting the most in-need children.  They run football sessions for them in this basketball-mad country, but see the opportunity to use sport to empower these children who have been marginalized.  F4L also brought together over 50 school teachers to participate in our training, knowing that these sport teachers are crucial to the use of sport as an active tool for social change and development of their community.  These coaches and teachers lived through Yolanda, and are the best people who have the vision and enthusiasm on how Tacloban should be rebuilt.  One of the F4L coaches, Margarette Susing, is featured in this video showing the process of rebuilding the community is undertaking and is a perfect example of the effect that a natural disaster can have on a community and on individual lives (4:18 minutes).

    We knew on our first day that this group of teachers and coaches, as well as the experience itself, would be special.  Meeting in a room that still utilizes a warped, water-damaged floor, we began our journey with them.  In fact, there are still very few structures which do not show the lasting damage of the storm.  On-Field our first game is always Circle of Friends.  It is used both as a physical warm-up, but also to get coaches and children to use their voices (and be comfortable with their voices) in a variety of ways.  On the first water break it was explained to me by a teacher that he preferred the students not to speak, so that he could maintain control.  After resuming Circle of Friends and Ronaldo Skills (another game which stresses voice), the same teacher came up to me to tell me that he was wrong, and that these were two of the most fun games he had seen.  And we had just gotten started!  By the end of the week these coaches and teachers now have an arsenal of fun games which address life skills such as developing children’s voices and confidence, but also games which educate about early pregnancy (a major issue in the Philippines due to cultural and religious influences), educating about the environment, and creating self-directed learners through problem-solving games.

    Although Yolanda only lasted one day, the effects will be felt for years.  Tacloban is still at the start of their rebuilding journey, but with dedicated teachers and coaches, as well as organizations like Football 4 Life, this process will be a success.  In total the coaches and teachers that we worked with will impact nearly 10,000 children around Tacloban through school and soccer activities.  These children will become the lasting legacy of Yolanda.

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    One of three large boats still grounded in the middle of Tacloban

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    Celebrating a great week with CAC!