• This is Sierra Leone!

    May 31st 2017. CAC’s Jordan Stephenson wrote about his experience in Freetown, Sierra Leone working with our fantastic partner Street Soccer Foundation, Sierra Leone.

    The first thing you notice when arriving in Sierra Leone is that it is an adventurous nation! From walking off the plane and getting hit with a wall of heat – you know you’ve landed in the right place! The great thing about arriving in Freetown is that you need to take 3 modes of transport to get there: once arriving at the airport you take a short bus journey to the beach and from there you get on a boat which travels for 30 minutes across the ocean into Freetown! Being a Newcastle United supporter, when arriving at the hotel I immediate was caught up in a debate about who Rafa Benitez should be bringing in next season following our promotion to the Premier League, from then I knew this was a nation of sport lovers! Therefore it seems like an appropriate place to be doing our line of work…

    The training consisted of 100 community coaches and Physical Education teachers from all across the country who’s passion and love of sport exemplified the spirit of the nation. We were lucky enough to have the training in the National Football Stadium, and although the pitch wasn’t what you’d expect to be an international venue to be like, it provided a wonderful amphitheater for the weeks training.

    Mr Abu Johnson, CEO of Street Soccer Foundation highlighted that “this is the first time that the people of Sierra Leone are having training on a national level to cultivate the energy of change agents to create long term sustainable change through sport”. I certainly felt like it was very important to the nation as we were greeted with journalists from TV and radio who wanted to know what we were trying to achieve and how we’re trying to achieve it – that even meant sitting watching myself on TV and on the radio!

    The training itself was a huge success as we explored the ways that the communities in Sierra Leone can embrace sport as an essential vehicle to achieve strong development goals, with an important aspect being one of including community elders and village chiefs within discussions and programs, especially so they can see the value of education through sport as that is something they never experienced growing up.

    A stand out memory for me was a discussion about the number of children people had across Sierra Leone and the impact that has on communities. It was said that in urban communities, like Freetown, it is more beneficial to have less children as it costs more to feed children and it becomes harder for families to send their children to school due to tuition fees; whereas in remote parts of the community, children are seen as assets to the family as they can be used as labor to harvest food, farming and for street traders in order to bring in more income to the family, at the expense of a quality education.

    Looking forward at the three year partnership we have with Street Soccer Foundation, it is very exciting to see how the 100 participants are continuing to be supported and that more community legacies can be created through sport. Street Soccer Foundation are working tirelessly to continue to engage stakeholders such as Sierra Leone Football Association, Ministry of Sport and Ministry of Education in order to have a country wide effort to tackling social change through sport.

    And to all of the people of the peaceful nation of Sierra Leone.. Thank you!

  • Second Week in Freetown

    March 27, 2014. We are just about to wrap up our last session with the coaches in Sierra Leone. This second week has been incredible. You can tell that the coaches have really formed a bond with one another. For instance, the way they interact and goof off yet listen and respect one another during discussions is indicative of a certain level of comfort. I would almost go as far as to say we have formed our own futbol family.P1080670

    Having that extra week has served as an advantage, for we were able to devote a lot of time for the coaches to invent their own games with a social message and then coach it back to the entire group. The coaches did a wonderful job of creating discussions around their social messages and really focused on issues that affect their communities specifically, such as Malaria and HIV awareness.

    Another highlight of having a second week to coach is that we were able to make time for 2 scrimmages; the first, local Freetown coaches vs out-of-area coaches and the second, all of the coaches vs a local deaf team. The coaches have been anticipating both of these scrimmages since the first day of training. Everyone enjoyed playing against one another and for me it was nice to finally play with the coaches. At some point you have to pull a ‘Ronaldo 1’ on a coach in the real game to show them you practice what you preach.

    In all seriousness, I have enjoyed getting to know these coaches. They have been a great group to work with. They greet us with a smile every morning and come with enthusiasm for learning new games. I could not have asked for a better audience on my first coaching trip with CAC. While I do enjoy posing for a hundred pictures a session, our last day is upon us and it is time to say goodbye. I am sad that our time here is coming to an end, but I feel satisfied that we have made a significant impact in the coaching community here in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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  • Allea Allea Comes To Sierra Leone

    IMG_1743March 24, 2014. It has been just over a week since we first arrived in Freetown, Sierra Leone. In one week we have accomplished so much. Every session we average 30-40 coaches who attend and/or participate in our training sessions. The coaches come from near and far in order to participate and they represent teams of polio, amputee, deaf, blind and female players. The coaches greet us every morning with smiling faces and really embrace the different skills and social messages that we teach. They also actively participate in our daily discussions and have helped us identify social messages that are important in their own communities.

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    Off the pitch, we have had the opportunity to explore the city with the assistance of our gracious and very welcoming hosts, Greatest Goal Ministries. We have had the opportunity to visit the beach, go to a Chimpanzee Sanctuary, tour the slums, and view the city from the tops of the rolling hills. After our training sessions we have also had the opportunity to observe a few of the coaches at their own practice sessions with their players.

    We have witnessed first hand the transcendence of our games at these practices with children from 6 to 16 years old and both male and female teams.  The children seem to really enjoy the games as the coaches have done a great job of adapting the games to fit their coaching styles. When we visit the coaches, most of the community comes out to the sessions and all the children call out to us “Allea Allea”, which means white person. Both Sophie and I have grown accustomed to this greeting and return the calls with waves and smiles.

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