• On Martabak and Football

    May 10th 2016. Community Impact Coach Patrina Caceres, from our partners Football for Life in the Philippines, discussed working with CAC and Uni Papua in Indonesia.

    Last February, when I learned from my supervisor at the Football for Life (F4L) program that I have been assigned for a coaching stint as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) in Jakarta by Coaches Across Continents (CAC), I was at a loss for words.  I almost screamed at the coffee shop and tears collected in my eyes.  That was the best news that I have received since starting as a football for social impact coach in 2014.  Fast forward to April. With the first two weeks spent organizing with FundLife International (Football for Life’s mother organization) and participating in a third-year CAC seminar in Tacloban City from the 6th to the 9th and leading a second-year CAC seminar in Baybay City on the 11th to the 14th, I only had little time to pack my bags for the trip to Manila-Singapore-Jakarta on the 16th, which was no problem, because I’m a light packer.

    Charlie Crawford (team leader for the Philippines – Tacloban and Baybay – seminars) who was also going to lead the Indonesia trainings, flew to Manila with me in the morning of the sixteenth but we had different airlines for the Manila-Jakarta trip.  I was flying solo to a foreign country, something that made me anxious a bit.  Good thing that I had a book with me which made me feel comfortable in my trip.  Despite the delay of arrival in Singapore and an almost closed gate for my Singapore-Jakarta flight, the plane ride to Jakarta was without any other hassle.  Arriving in Jakarta, I was expecting a welcome committee when I went out of the terminal.  But nobody from Uni Papua, the partner organization of CAC, was there.

    Finding myself alone in a foreign country made me nervous so I went back inside the airport to breathe and think of a solution to solve my problem.  I asked which terminal the other international airlines landed.  “Terminal two”, the kind airport lady told me, so I jumped inside a shuttle bus to terminal two.  And indeed, there they were, Maria and Andi, the welcome committee, I tapped their back and introduced myself.  They were quite embarrassed that they didn’t know that I was going to land in terminal three.  “No harm done”, I told them.  And “Charlie ought to be proud of me, because I solved my problem by asking the right questions”.  Jon Eisen, a CAC volunteer from the United States arrived next.  The CAC Indonesia team was completed upon Charlie’s arrival at the airport.  My first impressions of people, places and things are almost always accurate, that’s the intuitive side to my personality.  I thought to myself that Charlie, Jon and I will click and make a great team, that I will learn a lot from the partner organization and that I will fall in love with Jakarta.

    The CAC training would begin on the Monday.  Having our Sunday free, we met with the Uni Papua Founder, Mr. Harry Widjaja, a gracious and generous man, who took us out for a meal in a fancy café, talked to us about the social football organization then he tagged us along to watch a movie, VIP style.  First day of the training, April 18th, was spent with introductions and curious eyes on me, being the only female coach on the CAC team, and one of only two females present that time.  From that moment, I had a mission, of challenging every participant’s views on gender, equality and society.  We started the training with the famous Circle of Friends then more games that taught about health and wellness, gender equality and fun were played.  The end of the first day training saw us tired, so Charlie introduced us to martabak manis, his most favorite dessert in the world.  Tasting it was sensational – though it simply looks like pancake, it’s not just pancake.  It is martabak manis.  It has become my most favorite dessert too. Martabak manis has mostly been a part of our evening routine except Wednesday of the Jakarta week.

    On the second day of training, I led Solo Skills for Life, a game that teaches the basic goalkeeping throws. I emphasized to the participants to use their voice while doing the skills.  This would ensure that the skill will be mastered and at the same time, participants will be confident to use their voice, and with seminars like this, CAC aims to develop community leaders who would be able to adapt and teach the games according to the needs of their community.  The highlight of the third day of the training for me was one of the ASK for Choice Curriculum Games called Brazil for Attitudes, it’s a game were participants are asked to do things “like a girl” or “like a boy”.  It was fun watching full-grown men goof around, but at the same time, made me wonder why they were running, skipping, dancing, hopping or what-not in a silly manner when I told them to do things “like a girl”.  When I huddled them and discussed the social impact of the game, I asked whether they see female athletes move the way they did during the game and how the girls and women in their life would react to the thought of doing things like a girl as a form of weakness.  That’s when they realized that the stereotypes that they have of women must be challenged.

    The fourth day of the training mostly featured Child’s Rights Games and a Child’s Rights Talk near the end.  During the child’s rights talk near the end of the day, experiences growing up as a child in Indonesia were shared, and how they have a common belief that the negative aspects that they went through should not be experienced by any child.  It was a rather serious and emotional talk that we needed to have a breather after.  The break from the seriousness was the most fun part of the day.  We played Scary Soccer, a live rock-paper-scissors kind-of-game, featuring moves for goalkeeper, striker and midfielder.  The youngest participant of the day was a twelve-year-old boy who was never tagged in the progression of the game, where the team that loses are chased by the winning team and once they’re tagged, they join the other team.  Talk about how an empowered child who doesn’t get tagged at scary soccer wins at life!

    Day five was coach-backs, where participants go into pairs and choose a game from a list of the games taught for the entire week and they coach the game back.  The coach-participants were very creative at modifying and making the games their own and that’s exactly what we want, that they be comfortable enough to teach the games the way they deem necessary.  What was most impressive, was the three youngest participants, teenage boys of 12, 13 and 15 who coached “Old Trafford Tag” as a group and how they transformed from the shy and quiet kids to “coaches” saying the instructions and explaining the social messages after the game was played.  These three kids have a potential at coaching too, seeing them step up made me hopeful at the bright future there is for Indonesian football for social impact.

    And oh, going back to my first impressions… They were right.  Charlie, Jon and I have forged friendships along with the Uni Papua Salatiga coaches with whom we lived with at the Our Daily Bread Office guesthouse, caring Maria who always made sure that our needs were met, like tea that makes me burp a lot, thus the nickname “Burpie”, helpful Andi and his funny giggle, energetic Yan and his very delicious Papuan’s pizza.  I have learned a lot from Mr. Harry about the organization through the success tips talk we had over lunch before I left Jakarta.  And yes, I have fallen in love with Jakarta, because of the food and because of the participants of the training.  What better way to fall in love with a place than because of the food and the people.

    Martabak 2

  • A Vision for Local Sustainability

    August 14th 2015. Léogâne to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Nairobi to Marsabit, Kenya. Tacloban to Baybay, Philippines. Nyanza to Kigali, Rwanda. Tanzania to Uganda. Uganda to Kenya. Cambodia to Philippines.

    These are some of the movements of our Community Impact Coaches (CICs) so far in 2015. We have had 16 CICs from 9 countries, directly impacting 28 CAC programs, and consequently nearly 100,000 children.

    The locations and numbers are compelling, but the stories behind those facts and figures are far more inspiring.

    So who are these CICs? How have they enhanced our work? And what have they brought back home to their communities?

    The CIC program pulls in the best of the best from our implementing partners. These are the coaches who have demonstrated their commitment to using sport for social impact at home with their local organizations, On-Field during past CAC trainings, and in year-round communication with CAC staff. These coaches, once selected as CICs, are part of On-Field teams for 1-3 weeks in various locations in their country or internationally. They assist us with the training of other leaders while learning more from our SDL Coaches, and soaking in everything they believe will empower them back home.

    We kicked off the year with a CIC exchange of sorts. Our 3rd-year partners, GOALS Haiti in Léogâne sent two coaches to work with our team in Port-au-Prince with 2nd-year partners The Sanneh Foundation’s Haitian Initiative (HI). The following week two coaches left the city to join our staff for the third year of the On-Field component to our partnership with GOALS. These two weeks are a great representation of what the CIC program is all about. The GOALS coaches were essential in helping us train 173 leaders in Cité Soleil. The HI coaches visited Léogâne and were able to see how far along a third-year partner is, while learning from them and being challenged to advance beyond the work we had done in their community.

    2015 also saw the return of our first-ever CIC, Nico Pota, who traveled from his home in Tanzania to help us run three programs in UgandaWhile in Uganda, Nico met the second-longest serving CIC, Salim Blanden. Soon after the Uganda programs, Salim traveled to meet our team in Kenya where he helped us train two sets of leaders. After his final week with us, one of the participants had some encouraging words to say about the CIC program: “It is very good for us participants to learn about other cultures and it can help to improve the life of the people in the community. It also encourages members of our community to try to achieve that as well, because when you have been in another community you come home with new ideas. To see Salim also encourages me to do my work and help to improve my own community in Rapogi.” – Michael Ouma, Migori County, Kenya.

    In early May we had some fiercely empowered Filipino women join us for our first time working in Baybay, Philippines after our second year with partners Football for Life in Tacloban. Hazel and Patty were running the show with a group of physical education teachers, and we hope to get one or both of them assisting us internationally in the near future.

    One of our Zimbabwe partners has finished the Hat-Trick Initiative, and after the third year several of the coaches applied to the CIC program. Of these candidates, Frank Chivawura was selected and joined CAC On-Field near his home in Harare with a first-year partner, helping us introduce our methodology to the new participants.

    One of the most incredible stories from our CICs takes us back to Kenya. David Mulo and Charles Otieno have been CICs with us for two years, helping us train leaders in various parts of their country. These inspired leaders work with long-time partners Vijana Amani Pamoja in Nairobi, and since joining us as CICs, they’ve wanted to do more. They started their own NGO called Green Kenya where they use CAC games to teach youth about all sorts of social issues, i.e.: “teaching participants how to conserve the environment using CAC environment games.” Another such issue is the empowerment of women. We have just been informed by David that they recently launched their new Girl Up initiative where, among other things, they are having men go out and buy sanitary towels to better understand and support women. David was part of our training in Marsabit, Kenya with Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI) – a program that needs little introduction when it comes to empowering women and girls.

    An excerpt from David’s blog sums it up beautifully. After witnessing the gap between men and women in Marsabit and learning of certain human rights violations, David writes:

    I decided that I want to do something for the girls when I get back to Nairobi… I will assemble the girls in my community and let them talk about the issues that they are facing and how they think we can tackle them. I want to let them have a voice to be heard. This idea would not have grown in my head if I did not get the chance to be a Community Impact coach (CIC).

    And now Girl Up is born.

    This is just one example – albeit amazing – of the work that our CICs are doing with us, and more importantly, without us. As David and many others have taken the time to thank CAC for the opportunities we present to them – I’d like to take this moment to thank our Community Impact Coaches across the world: Thank you for taking advantage of this opportunity and owning it; thank you for being exactly who you are and allowing it to inspire so many people; and thank you for not being afraid of the unknown.

    With a packed program schedule for the remainder of 2015, we cannot wait to unleash more CICs onto our partners. And moreover, we cannot wait to unlock more of these stories that are waiting to be lived by people who continue to dream despite overwhelming obstacles.

    To find out how you can support the Community Impact Coach program please go to this page or contact us.

    2015-03-25 18.12.02

  • The Future of the Philippines

    May 18th 2015. Community Impact Coach (CIC), Patty Caceres from Football for Life, joined CAC in Baybay, Philippines to assist in the training of educators as sport for social impact coaches. As she breaks down the program, we get a true snapshot of a CAC training from the perspective of an incredible CIC.

    A week ago today was the conclusion of an intensive two and a half day sport for social impact coaches’ seminar by multi-award winning Coaches Across Continents (CAC) in Baybay City, Leyte.  The seminar was made possible by the Football for Life (F4L) Program from Tacloban City which has, since August 2014, used football as a tool to rebuild the lives of children and youth of Tacloban after typhoon Haiyan.  Coaches Nora Dooley, senior development lead coach of the CAC and Charlie Pomroy of CAC’s Cambodia implementing partner Globalteer were the tandem coaches who visited the Philippines this year.

    In October of last year, CAC came to Tacloban featuring the first year of their Hat Trick Initiative to teach coaches, educators and leaders on how to use sport as a tool to educate about different social issues and to teach life lessons (shout out to coaches Brian and Kelly, hello!)  This year, after the second year seminar in Tacloban, CAC and F4L went on a two plus hour ride south to Baybay City.

    And we from the F4L were accompanying the CAC not merely as staff to handle logistics but we were tasked to assist them by coaching and sharing our coaching experiences and learnings from the two CAC seminars we’ve already attended to the participants.  (Challenge accepted!)  Here is an account of the four days spent in the very scenic Visayas State University (VSU):

    Day 0 (May 6)

    Today, coaches Nora and Charlie and we F4L staff and coaches Paula, Hazel and I travel to Baybay.  We waited for the van to be filled up by other passengers, since we arrived way ahead of schedule in the terminal.  We left Tacloban at around 5:30 in the afternoon.  I was unusually awake the whole time of the trip, nauseous as I often am on landtrips, I just couldn’t sleep (cue music, “I’m so excited, I just can’t hide it”).  We arrived in Baybay before 8 p.m. and our gracious host Dr. Aleli Villocino, VSU’s Institute of Human Kinetics Director greeted us at the terminal.  She brought us to a fancy café resto downtown to purchase to-go dinner.  She bade us farewell and we headed off to VSU where upon arrival, IHK staff assigned us to our accommodations. (Tomorrow is going to be a long day!).

    Day 1 (May 7)

    We had breakfast at 7 a.m., a minibus was waiting for us at 7:45, we had to be transported to the upper campus, the venue of the seminar, since our accommodations are in the lower campus.  Participants registered and came in, filling up a tiny portion of the IHK gym (the unfilled space intimidates me, this is not good but still, game face on!)  By 9 a.m. the opening program started with a prayer, the Philippine National Anthem was sung next, then Dr. Aleli gave her warm words of welcome.  Then I spoke to talk about who we from the F4L are and what we do in Tacloban before I gave the floor to the coaches to start the session.  (I stuttered a little bit, I am more used to giving speeches with notes but when I took a deep breath and just talked with passion, I stuttered no more).

    We then went outside to the wide football field, where the CAC staple, Circle of Friends, as a warm-up was introduced.  Then still in the circle, Ronaldo Skills were taught.  The eagerness to learn and the group’s fun disposition made for a morning filled with laughter.  Ronaldo Tag was played next, then Ronaldo for Health and Wellness.  And when time came to go in groups, (cue music, “mingle, mingle, mingle) we all danced to Mingle Mingle.  Ronaldo for Gender Equity was up next.  Then the football games, Ronaldo for Conflict Resolution and Ronaldo for Fun.  By lunchtime, the group had decided to transfer to the lower campus, where the cafeteria is located and our accommodations too (yehey!).

    Before heading onto the field, Coach Nora discussed about the differences between sport and sport for social impact.  The participants were attentive and yes, some were skeptical as to the how’s and why’s of sport for social impact.  But I’m sure that in the culmination of the seminar, the skeptics will be believers.  On-field, Marta Skills and Combination skills were done.  Jaguars vs. Blackbirds was next then Marta for Conflict Resolution was played.  Coach Hazel and I then introduced Old Trafford Tag, one we learned from last year’s seminar.

    The day was capped off with the Marta for Gender Equity and Marta for Fun games.  Though some participants are not football players, it’s amusing how they try their best to do the tasks with perseverance and enthusiasm.  After the activities and some rest, the three of us, Paula, Hazel and I went to the beach for a swim, to watch the beautiful sunset and just talk and relax after a strenuous day.

    Day 2 (May 8)

    The day started with a review of yesterday’s drills and activities.  Participants went in groups to make visual aids of the games played yesterday, each group had representatives to discuss the drills most especially, explain on the social impact of the drills. We then proceeded to the activities, starting off with Tim Howard “T-Ho” (goalkeeping) skills and T-Ho for Conflict Resolution.  Coach Hazel and I led the Pair Scrimmage.  Watching the participants play like kids and having fun humbles me.  T-Ho for Gender Equity and T-Ho for Fun were the last activities for the morning.  After returning from lunch, a Child’s Rights discussion was led by Coach Nora.  The afternoon was spent on games discussing HIV as a social issue as well as the Right to Family and the Right to Education games.  CAC and F4L then spent a delightful dinner with the VSU President, Dr. Jose Bacusmo, and IHK workforce.  A healthy exchange of thoughts occurred.  (I think that happens when you all had a nice meal!)

    Day 3 (May 9)

    Today, we spent half a day doing drills and discussions.  We were set to go back to Tacloban later in the afternoon.  The drills and games included that tackled on Child’s Rights, What Makes a Good Leader? And Ideal Man and Ideal Woman.  Some of these games were rather a source of discourse, especially the notions on women and their role in society.  Do you have that thing that ticks you off? For me, it’s the fact that some men still think that women are not as good as men, and they’re better off at home.  It’s just sad that the men of today are or will be fathers of daughters and if these men don’t learn to respect women as equals, how backward our society will be.

    Lesson learned: Always have that patience for those in darkness.  In the end though, the discussions clarified everything and seeing those people who were closed-minded in the beginning “evolve” into more empathetic people makes me look at the future with hope.  I just wish everyone would be as open-minded to the fact that when we empower women in our society, the better our society will be.  Remember that old adage that goes, “Two heads are better than one”?  We need just that, woman and man helping each other to achieve real progress in society.

    The two and a half day of games and discussions ended with distribution of certificates and souvenir t-shirts to the participants.  Short talks were also given by Prof. Aleli, some of the participants, me and coaches Nora and Charlie.  In his speech, Coach Charlie quoted Steve Jobs who said, “The people who think they are crazy enough to change the world are the ones who do.”  I love this quote a lot and it really reminded me that the impact we can have on the lives of the people we associate with are enough to change the world.  Out of college, on to my first interview for a teaching position which I totally aced, I told the dean that I have this personal motto of “Helping change the world, one student or class at a time.”  I hope that in one way or another I am doing just that with coaching and educating.

    Passion is the thing that should drive us to be of impact to others and to be the best versions of ourselves, and I am thankful that the CAC seminars I’ve attended and assisted just made that passion burn all the more. Snapshots were taken as souvenirs and new friendships blossomed.  We then went to our accommodations to pack our bags.  We left Baybay in the afternoon today but the memories of fun and the learnings are sure to stay.  Arriving in Tacloban though, the day was far from over, Coach Nora spent her birthday last May 7 coaching so we had dinner of barbecue and cake plus Philippine exotic food, balut, to truly celebrate.  (I know coaches Nora and Charlie didn’t enjoy the balut, but at least, you’ve really been to the Philippines because you tried, haha!)