• Blog 1 – Culture Shock

    April 11, 2018. Global Citizen, Abigale Gibbons, writes about her first time on-field with Coaches Across Continents while working with Fútbol Más Chile

    Before my departure to Chile and Peru as a Global Citizen, I had no idea what to expect. I have a passion for sport and using it for social impact—which is the reason I was initially captivated by Coaches Across Continents, conversational Spanish (more or less) and was waiting to see where the following weeks would take me.

    The first training was an eye opening and learning experience for me. The opportunity to finally work on an all female team, especially in the space of athletics, was (and is) an incredibly empowering feeling. I took the initial days to learn and absorb the process and planning it takes to host a training. (If you think hosting a training is easy, think again.) It takes a lot of research, intuition and understanding to properly run each session and it was certainly more intense than I imagined it to be. After hours of preparation, I was excited to see how all of the work off-field would play out on field.

    The first city we landed in was Iquique—a beautiful town with a beach that resembles Rio de Janeiro or the California coast on one side and blissful mountain deserts on the other. In Iquique and all throughout Chile, we would be working alongside CAC partner Fútbol Màs, a global organization that uses sport in communities to recover public places and create safe spaces for children to train and grow.

    For me personally, this first training was amazing, challenging and overwhelming all at the same time. After being so adjusted to my life in the States, the reality that I was now an outsider—who couldn’t properly communicate or understand the local language—quickly led me to begin to think differently, become more aware of those around me, have greater empathy and change my previous perspectives of what life is like for a foreigner living in a new culture, city, country and community.

    One of my greatest takeaways from this first training was how grateful I was to be welcomed, as a stranger, into the lives and communities of the participants and Fútbol Màs. I began to develop a clearer understanding that we are all humans who want to help each other, learn from each other and better our communities by encouraging new ideas and evolution from tradition.

     

     

  • PASIÓN HECHA ACCIÓN

    April 25, 2017. Community Impact Coach Daniela writes about experience traveling with CAC to Ecuador to work with partners Futbol Mas

    Passion Made Action

    Mi nombre es Daniela Gutierrez y con una experiencia única, en Perú y Ecuador; agradezco a Coaches Across Continents, que gracias a su programa CIC tuve la oportunidad de vivir 3 semanas inolvidables; donde compartí aprendizajes invaluables junto a cada persona, que me motivan siempre a seguir aprendiendo y compartiendo.

    My name is Daniela Gutierrez and with a unique experience in Perú and Ecuador I am grateful to CAC. Thanks to their CIC program I had the opportunity to live 3 unforgettable weeks where I shared invaluable knowledge with each person, and which motivated me to always continue learning and sharing.

    Ecuador-Guayaquil fue especial; porque vi niños participando de nuestro programa, profes de otras provincias que llegaron con tanta energía y esos deseos de cada uno, por compartir. Me gusto ver como exploraban su talento transformándolo en grandes ideas, creando juegos y dinámicas increíbles, el ultimo día todos y todas estabamos emocionados, agradecidos, orgullosos de seguir en la misma sintonía. Sé que se fueron con ganas de más, de seguir compartiendo en sus comunidades y generando impacto social. Solo sé que el gran equipo de Futbol más Ecuador seguirá contribuyendo en este proceso, generando más oportunidades para todo Ecuador.

    Guayaquil, Ecuador was special because I saw youth participating in our program, teachers from other provinces that arrived with so much energy and the desire from each one to share. I loved to see how they explored their talent, transforming it into great ideas, creating games and incredible activities. On the last day everyone was emotional, grateful, and proud to continue to the same tune. I know that they all left with the urge for more, to continue sharing in their communities and creating social impact. I just know that the great team of Fútbol Más Ecuador will continue contributing to this process, generating more opportunities for all of Ecuador.

    Recuerdo aquel 2014, mi primer año con CAC en Perú; desde entonces soy un agente de cambio social, utilizando como herramientas potentes juego y deporte; creando espacios donde cada vivencia se trasforme en una experiencia significativa. Logrando que las personas seas protagonistas de los cambios en sus comunidades y en sus propias vidas; buscando igualdad de oportunidades para todos y todas (‘todos somos impacto social’).

    I remember in 2014, my first year with CAC in Perú. Since then I have been an agent for social change, using sport and play as powerful tools; creating spaces where every experience is transformed into something significant. Achieving that people are protagonists for change in their communities and in their own lives; searching for equality of opportunities for everyone – ‘we are all social impact’!

    Siento personalmente la necesidad interminable de seguir aprendiendo siempre de los demás, cada persona es un mundo lleno de tanto, involucrándome, teniendo la convicción que no hay límites para seguir aprendiendo y que nunca debo parar. Sueño que en 2020 más y más personas alrededor del mundo, transformen su pasión en acciones que nos permitan construir un mundo mejor.

     I feel personally the unending need to always continue learning from others; that every person is a world full of so much, including me, and having the conviction that there are no limits to learning and that I should never stop. I dream that in 2020 more and more people around the world transform their passion into actions that allow us to build a better world.

     

  • Rediscovering Ourselves Through the Game

    April 19, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Panchi, writes about experience working with Futbol Mas in Antofagasta, Chile. Translated by volunteer, Nico.

    From the experience that I lived with CAC and as a participant in the games, I see that both organizations have a similar focus with respect to the form of learning that they aim to create, and how the new spaces and going out of your comfort zone allows you to develop. Putting learning aside discovering, challenging yourself, valuing your experiences, delivering an opportunity that encourages adventure while at the same time gives you the confidence in your own capacities to face the obstacles that are presented in the way, is incredible. Most importantly, we treat the obstacles and mistakes as the most treasured piece within the adventure. We speak the same language, the same things move us and even if it sounds cliché, we believe that we can build a better world. That allowed my experience to be so enriching. Being able to take everything new to contribute to what we want to achieve with our intervention, makes everything meaningful.

    I consider that the CAC work way allows one to discover how to coach from one’s own abilities, as well as use appropriate methodology to form and create from that a space. At the beginning I was happily thinking about what was the right way, how should I do it, and what were the structure and steps, since I thought there was only one way to do it. After observing the dynamics that occurred in classes, the different alternatives and creations that the participants themselves proposed, I realized that the ways in which a coach can carry an activity are infinite and valuable.

    The workshops in Antofagasta were incredible, it surprised me that in front of the same stimulus, as a game, the dynamics during the game and the reflection later may be so different from what we experienced in Santiago. The variants that the same group of participants proposed and the reflections and thoughts that were shared in the space configured a unique experience that belongs to that particular human group, which I consider a simply wonderful part of CAC. The sport and game are really deep and wise tools, which despite being present daily in what we do at Futbol Mas will never fail to surprise me. The emotional climate they generate, how they invite to participate and feel comfortable with people they just met is great. They did so in a way that was ridiculous, laughing and looking at us, with the same freedom with which children do.

    Each game has a purpose, a sense, and some space to add variants and invite participants to create, allowing immediately for a horizontal relationship. If a proposed variant does not work, it is taken as an opportunity to analyze and ask questions and thus build deeper learning.

    Within the session there are some questions that can guide participants about where we want to reach with that conversation, which does not mean that there are correct or incorrect answers but there is merely a space where we can create questions. I love the flexibility of proposals, their simplicity and depth, less was more this week.

    Many times as adults and professionals we can identify different human and social issues that we consider so important as to talk and put on the table, such as gender equity, sexual health and immigration among other things. As tutors, we have the mission of creating spaces of discussion, of questioning, to know what they think, and to invite them to have a conscious understanding in front of the reality of the context. Both with the children we work with and with their communities this is important. Many times we do not find the ways that invite participation, we feel uncomfortable for what it costs us to generate a space where others feel comfortable, with the confidence to participate and share their thoughts, where everyone respects each other’s opinion. We aimed to generate a healthy discussion space. That is one of the things I learned with CAC, through concrete activities and games we can open the space to deepen the contingency due to the program’s richness in symbolism and metaphors.

     

  • The Drink of a Nation

    April 13, 2017. Coaches Across Continents Process Consultant, Charlie Crawford writes about working with partners at Futbol Mas Paraguay.

    The first thing to stand out throughout Asuncion is the fact that a significant portion of the population always carries with them a small cooler accompanied with cup and a flattened looking straw. For those of you that have not had the pleasure, Terere in Paraguay could be considered a form of cold tea and more significantly, an icon and integral aspect of their way of life. In the cup is the supply of mate (crumbled leaves/botanical matter that I did not examine very thoroughly) which, when filled with the ice-water from the cooler and is filtered through the special straw, becomes far more than a refreshing drink.

    Paraguay is hot. As one of this week’s participants told it, “The Devil once came to Asuncion, started to sweat, and has not been back since.” Terere is undoubtedly the principle solution to this heat. This ritual helps and continues to build a community of trust centered around a shared cup. And as with any social construct, there are rules and etiquettes to follow this ritual sharing of Terere. The first thing I learned is that the owner of the cooler is the one to pack the cup, and that there are preferred methods to this packing. Once prepared, it’s up to the youngest member of the group to fill the single cup, pass it to the most senior, refill the cup and continue passing it around. You will continue to be offered a fresh cup until you say “gracias”, signifying your satisfaction. After making the dramatic mistake once, I was informed of the most important rule, ‘don’t move the straw’. The depth, position, and angle of this flattened straw are part of the preferred experience of the owner and are not things to adjust as you will it.

    As much as I wanted to dedicate an entire blog to this cultural drink, there is no possible way to leave this week without focusing on how incredible a program this was. After experiencing Futbol Mas in Lima the previous week, expectations were reasonably high for F+’s Paraguay branch. Participants here ranged from specialists in government organizations, special needs teachers, competitive coaches, competitive players, volunteers, students and more. None had ever experienced a training of this sort before and their earnest attitude, eagerness to learn, and belief in progress through problem solving were second to none. While most of the trainings were held on the National Secretary of Sport’s official compound, two of our days were spent in the local slum of Chicarita. This area is closer to the river than the rest of the city and, as such, suffers severe flooding on a regular basis. Unauthorized housing packs the area and social stigma closes it off from the rest of the world.

    Learning that the vast majority of our participants had never even set foot in this part of their city was not terribly surprising. What was a bit of a surprise, were the attitudes that made clear shifts by the end of the week. It would be accurate to say that there was a feeling of being uncomfortable during the first trip into Chicarita. This atmosphere not only dissipated but was replaced by an opposite eagerness to engage with this world even more. By holding the training within this community, the barrier of prejudice that literally circled this neighborhood was crossed, discussed, and ultimately considered unnecessary by the participants.

    The ritual of Terere remains strong. The ritual of avoidance and turning a bling eye does not. This is a great example  of what our partners are able to accomplish. I am left with only appreciation for being able to work with both Coaches Across Continents and Futbol Mas.

  • To Lima, to the Coast, to Huachipa!

    April 12, 2017. CAC Process Consultant, Charlie Crawford, writes about CIC Daniela and program in Lima, Peru.

    Arriving in Lima, Peru felt like stepping into both a foreign world and coming home at the same time. While our program would start on Monday, I was able to spend Saturday exploring the latest CAC office and surroundings before meeting up with fellow Coaches Across Continents staff Mark Gabriel, on Sunday. This opportunity led me to a bubble of Peruvian culture expressed along the jagged coastline spotted with public parks. Bike paths, futbol fields, and countless shady palm trees lined the winding cliffs and overlooked the beautiful Pacific Ocean. The highlight of this coddiwomple was stumbling onto the Park of Love, where mosaic tiles, colorful flowers and a massive statue of a loving couple holding each other in their arms helped create an atmosphere of comfort, connection and intimacy all in this beautifully publicly acknowledged space. Families, couples and friends would sleep, relax and spend their sunday in the best possible way here, in this paradise of a setting.

    Every program is different. After working off-field in recent weeks, it was extraordinary to get back on the job with one of our strongest past participants and CIC’s, Daniela Gutierrez. Daniela has had consistent experience with CAC in past Peruvian programs which made working with her directly an obvious step. Currently working with Liga de Futbol Feminino e Integracion Social, Daniela used some of  her connections to local schools and Sport for Social Impact individuals to organize a training in the neighborhood of Huachipa. This is an area no small distance away from central Lima. Through travels so far, I’ve found that many inhabitants of big cities tend to claim the ‘world’s craziest traffic’ title. While it’s my thought that no one has enough experience to empirically determine this, I’d be willing to consider Lima as a possibility.  Public transportation is built around these monumental highways sunk into the hills and valleys of the cityscape. Within these highways are designated lanes for public buses and it was partially through these buses that we would travel to our venue every day (often with multiple taxis included in each direction of the trip).  The training itself centered around a local school in Huachipa and the mothers of the students. Clearly new to the idea of Sport for Social Impact, we were able to introduce these parents to using sport in a way to address Gender Equity, Conflict Prevention and a number of other topics in our time together.

    Mark & I met and began working together less than a year ago with CAC in Cambodia. In the months since, we have coached together and played in half a dozen countries. Starting this next stretch with him couldn’t have gotten off to a better start and working with our new partner, Futbol Mas, in the coming weeks only makes me more excited. Let’s go Lima!

  • Hello Santiago

    April 11, 2017. Community Impact Coach Nico Fuchs-Lynch writes about working with Fútbol Más in Santiago, Chile.

    Stepping into the Fútbol Más office in the heart of Santiago on Monday, I was immediately impressed by how well organized this partner was. Moreover, the enthusiasm that all of Fútbol Más brought to everything stood out to me right from that first day and did not let up throughout the week. At our first training session in Peñon, they proved that they are innovative and thoughtful coaches, never hesitating to modify games and always thinking of ways to connect the games to prominent social issues in Santiago. They truly made the sessions for them, not just learning CAC games and techniques, but incorporating and modifying them into their own methodology that they will use for many years to come.

    The next day, our session was in a park close to the Fútbol Más headquarters and one game was very useful for the Chilean coaches. That game was condom tag, a version of tag that simulates how HIV can affect a community extremely fast. The incorporation of safe zones and condoms as protection from HIV further showed participants how they could use this game to teach about sexual safety in their coaching. Many participants were fans of this game because they realized that sexual safety is a major issue in Santiago and games such as condom tag were ways they could raise awareness about these issues. After our training session, we had the pleasure of watching the Chile-Venezuela World Cup qualifier with Fútbol Más. 4 minutes into the match, Chile scored and cries of “Viva Chile!” filled the restaurant. A 3-1 Chile victory and delicious sandwiches left spirits high for the next day’s session.

    On Wednesday, we gave a talk on Self-Directed Learning. Many ideas were brought up about how to best empower kids to learn and create an educational system that puts kids and teachers at an equal level. Later that day, our session was located in a gymnasium in Maipu. Many local university students joined us, as well as the director of Fútbol Más himself. We played games relating to teamwork, creativity, and the power of negative influences. The director running like a cowboy in Circle of Friends is a memory I will never forget. On our way back from the session, we were introduced to a tasty Chilean snack, sopapillas. Eating these delicious fried pastries in front of the metro station was a perfect end to our day in Maipu.

    Thursday’s session was held at the stadium in Maipu. Despite the fire that was smoking in the distance, we discussed gender stereotypes and identity. Participants modified games, living up to the ideas they brought forth during the SDL talk the day before. After the training, we had an exciting 5v5 game with participants. One of these participants happened to be the captain for the Chilean National Dwarf team!

    On Friday, we returned to the same neighborhood where we began the session, in Peñon. Fútbol Más coaches shared some of the games they learned over the course of the week, adding in their own variations and describing the social impact behind the games. One coach did such a good job during her Coachback that she was invited to coach as a CIC during next week’s session in Antofogasta. It was a great ending to a week filled with great food and soccer in one of the coolest cities out there, Santiago!