• Pathways to Female Empowerment

    September 13th 2017. CAC Community Impact Coach Lorik Hartun wrote about her experience with CAC and our partners GOALS Armenia in Dilijan. We want to sincerely thank the Games 4 Good Foundation for their support of this partnership in 2017. 

    Exactly the same day last year I was just an inspired participant of the CAC’s ‘ASK for Choice’ program in Yerevan, Armenia. While I was getting to know the CAC team and playing games, I was thinking that I have always tried to raise awareness about social issues. But, I had never thought about combining sports and social awareness. That was the time when a spark occurred in my mind and I approached Nora (the head coach), saying I will definitely continue implementing your games.

    I got to know about GOALS (Girls of Armenia Leadership Soccer) during the same program and I offered my help and cooperate with them. After a while their team approached me and offered me to work with them as the director of programming and training. I accepted their offer and along with several educators and trainers from all over Armenia, we passionately continued to implement CAC games, which incorporate themes that need to be discussed, such as: gender equality, women’s rights, discrimination, stereotypes etc. After a few months of being involved in programming and monitoring the NGO’s programs, I was given the chance of being GOALS’ Executive Director. Now being GOALS’ CEO, as well as a partner of CAC, we have been able to organize several successful events with the idea of raising awareness of social issues our communities face. For example, this year we organized a CAC training in Yerevan, the capital city of Armenia, as well as at one of the greenest cities of Armenia; Dilijan.

    Markus and Jamie from Coaches Across Continents were leading the programs in Armenia and I was excited to join them as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) in Dilijan.

    On the first day of our training, as Markus, Jamie and I were walking along the beautiful green field of UWC, where our training would be held; I was looking at the faces of the participants and I could already predict their questions of what exactly we are going to do and how sport and social issues could be involved. Training started. On the first day some of them, especially the adults, didn’t feel comfortable doing more active games such as dancing mingle mingle and doing crazy things in the circle of friends. But on the last day almost everyone was doing fun activities. The point being that: as we grow up we think we shouldn’t be free and have fun like children, but fun and freedom shouldn’t have any age limitations.

    The most challenging part for us during the training was bringing up discussions about women’s rights and equality in Armenia. Most of them were denying the existence of gender inequalities. People were also applying their generic ideas of their community to the rest of the country. We gave them some hints and a place for them to think and study more about those topics.

    I am very happy that 8 participants from the program joined the GOALS ‘after school’ program where they chose one of my designed modules, which focused on: discrimination and equality, leadership and problem solving, and lastly environment and healthy lifestyle. The coaches will implement the games once per week adapting them for their individual needs as they represent different disciplines such as, basketball, track and field, wrestling, boxing etc. I feel confident that through the program the coaches are now well-equipped to apply the games and activities with their students and players. And I am already looking forward to next year’s program where we want to welcome many returners so they can continue on their journey of becoming Self-Directed Learners.

    It is very fun working with “nature-boy” Markus as he gets called by Jamie, the Scotsman on our team. I am already looking forward to working with them in Tbilisi, Georgia.

  • A Home Away from Home

    August 19th 2016. Volunteer Jenifer Anzivino wrote about our time with training4changeS in Stellenbosch, South Africa. Thanks to the Games 4 Good Foundation for supporting this partnership.

    I’ve been home for 19 days so this is a bit of a delayed blog but truly makes me more excited to write about about my second week in South Africa with Coaches Across Continents. I thank the staff for giving me time to write this due to personal circumstances because I still wanted to tell my story.

    Week one in South Africa was truly eye opening. Changing locations was not easy after such an emotional week. I felt like I wanted to stay in Limpopo forever and continue working with the community. Through our travels though there was a good amount of time to reflect and start preparing for week two in Khayelitsha. We arrived at our new location and were welcomed by Marcus who would be joining us and Daniel who is the founder of training4changeS and the person who would be welcoming us into his home for the next two weeks (Yes, that meant taking in 5 people at one point). Quickly their home became ours. Daniels wife Kendra could not have made us feel more at home, and their son Sammi became our younger sibling for the week. I have never felt more welcomed into a house that was not mine.

    I believe that you truly are only successful as the people you surround yourself with. Well that is why two weeks honestly felt so short.  As me met the staff of training4changeS it became obvious how amazing this time would be. Not only were they more than welcoming but they were so excited and enthusiastic to get started for their third year. During this week since it was a third year program we did a lot of focus on technology. After we spent the day demonstrating games that could be influential off the soccer field we then started having them enter them to Sport Session Planner. This resource quickly became exciting to them as they realized they could enter their games, share them, and also search for drills that align with what they were trying to convey that week. Whether the participants wanted to use these drills for soccer purposes or for social impact in the classroom, this database quickly became a hit to use to seek more knowledge. I truly cannot express how grateful I am for the people I met through this process and for the amazing attitudes that were always present. As I said at the end of week two, the participants may have thought they were learning from us but I learned more from them than any education could buy.

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  • Stories

    August 10th 2016: Volunteer Lea Hinnen shares an emotional story from her time On-Field with CAC ASK for Choice partner training4changeS based in Stellenbosch, South Africa. This program was supported by the Games 4 Good Foundation. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals involved.

    In my last six weeks of volunteering with Coaches Across Continents I have heard so many stories. Crazy stories, sad stories, amazing stories and sometimes even funny stories. I’ve heard stories from participants and children stories of gangsters and gangs, orphans, discrimination and the lives in poverty. But no stories would get to me like the stories of rape.

    In our second week with training4changeS we were located in the Football for Hope Center in Khayelitsha. We ran an ASK for Choice program with the male t4c staff and women from t4c partner organizations. It was a smaller group than planned, which ended up being the best thing that could have happened – and that proved on the very last day.

    The participants prepared discussions they find important to address within their communities. One of them ended up being the issue of rape within the townships and all over South Africa. And that’s where the stories began…One of our female participants, let’s call her Nare, shares the story of when she was about 12 years old. She grew up in Khayelitsha and had a best friend, let’s call her Sara. Sara and Nare were like sisters. One day, however, Sara suddenly put her hand under her friend’s skirt… Nare was confused, didn’t quite know what was going on and asked Sara what she was doing. Sara said it was ‘normal’, her stepfather would do things like that to her all the time, he would even sleep with her. ‘That’s rape, Sara! He cannot and should not do that to you!’, protests Nare.

    She tells her mother, who called social workers and Sara’s family. The stepfather denied he ever touched Sara, told everyone they were just two little girls making up stupid stories. Nothing happens and the abuse and rape goes on. Until one day Nare goes over to Sara’s place where no one answers the door. Nare hears Sara whimper and decides to burst into the house: She finds the stepfather on top of her best friend, in the middle of raping her. She cries, tries to get him off her, but he just threatens her in response: ‘When I’m done with her, you will be next!’ – that’s when Nare takes the knife and stabs him, grabs Sara by the hand and they run off.

    Fast-forward a couple of months: Sara’s stepfather survived and ended up in jail for some time. When he gets released, he goes back to the house, rapes Sara and kills her. End of story.

    Everyone is quiet. Nare is not the only one around the table struggling to hold back the tears – me and some other participants are right there with her. No one knows what to say. Everyone knows that there are too many stories like hers out there. Then Keke, a male t4c coach takes parole: ‘We as coaches can make a difference here. We have the responsibility to address that with our young, male players. We have to try to change this ‘boy-talk-culture’: A guy has two or more girls at the same time: everyone applauds. A guy says he didn’t use a condom: everyone applauds. A guy rapes a girl: everyone applauds. We, as coaches, as leaders, we can stop this. We can show them that these things are nothing to applaud for. Nothing any decent man should be proud of. We can make a difference here, and we have to.”

    So I want to thank you, Keke, for turning the moment of a terribly sad story into a new, amazing story. And thank you for creating the chance to improve the stories of so many people we encounter everyday.

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  • Games 4 Good Foundation

    July 7th 2016. CAC is delighted to announce that we will be partnering with the Games 4 Good Foundation for the 2nd year in a row. This time we will be delivering our sport for social impact program with local partner training4changeS in South Africa as part of the grant. We will be introducing our new ‘ASK for Choice’ female empowerment curriculum to the participants in Stellenbosch from July 18th to July 29th.

    The CAC and training4changeS partnership ensures that young women and girls have safe spaces from which to share their knowledge and express their own visions for their lives and communities.  It creates an opportunity for girls to question harmful social, cultural and religious practices. The majority of women and girls are not even aware of what their rights are.  This partnership will raise awareness and empower women and their communities to implement, respect and protect these rights.

    In addition to ASK for Choice this partnership will have a significant focus on technology. training4changeS will have participants on CAC’s Online Education Program over the next 12 months. This will allow some of their key staff to remotely learn how to adapt and create their own sport for social impact games under the guidance of CAC’s experienced team. In addition, they will utilize CAC’s Virtual Learning Community which offers monthly Webinar’s on key topics in sport for social impact and organizational development. These elements of the project will be imperative to ensure it creates sustainable change in Stellenbosch. It will truly be ‘Education for a Changing World’.

    We are incredibly excited about the potential of this partnership and thank the Games 4 Good Foundation for their invaluable support.

    training4changeS. Stellenbosch, South Africa

  • A New Style of Learning

    CAC volunteer Cameron Hardington, student at Amherst College, blogs about his first week in Cameroon with Breaking Ground. This program is part of our great partnership with the Games 4 Good Foundation, who we thank for all of their support.

    June 10th 2015. There are three passions that have categorized my early years: my passion for football, a desire to see and experience the world, and a love for people. It was these three qualities that inspired me to volunteer with CAC, so heading into Cameroon I was excited, but was also unsure what to expect. After a day and a half of plane flights, a night in Yaoundé, and an 8 hour bus ride we finally arrived in Dschang, the city that we would be working in this week.

    The first day of training brought many difficulties for me including nerves, culture shock, and the most obvious obstacle, the language barrier. Nora had told Rachel ( the other volunteer) and me before the session that we would not be coaching that much this week as neither of us could speak French, but that we could hop in on games and do demonstrations. Not being able to speak or understand the language turned out to be one of the best blessings for me. I was able to see and understand the games through visual cues and was able to gauge what the coaches thought of the game by their laughs, smiles, energy, or the odd confused face here and there. Most of the time it was hard for me to follow what they were talking about in their discussions but I was able to catch the gist of it by their passion, expressions, and hand motions.

    This group definitely had a passion for female empowerment and gender equity. It was obvious to see that during these games there were smiles and laughter on the faces of both men and women, but they were also extremely intentional and serious when we got down to talking about issues and how gender issues can be resolved. The most brilliant example of how highly they valued gender equity happened during a game called Marta for Gender Equity. The basic rules are that there are two teams and half the team is sitting out on the sideline while the other half plays. It’s a regular game of football, except when a team scores, they run over to the sideline and pick a player who is sitting out and say a good choice for empowerment such as “education” or “exercise” and the new player comes in to play giving a numbers advantage to the team that scores. It was near the end of the game, and neither team had been able to score, and then finally a team scored. Nora then yelled, “Choose three players to come in!” The young boy who scored ran straight over to where his two best friends were sitting and went to the first, grabbed him and said a good choice and he was in the game. He then went to his other best friend, reached down to grab his hand, then hesitated and you could see him think, and then he proceeded to pull his hand away and grab two of the women’s hands who then came in to play. This boy’s action was a perfect sample of this group’s attitude. They are passionate, courageous, and most importantly they are not afraid to adapt a game to show a different lesson than the one that Nora had intended.

    I have a great hope and expectation for this group in the future. From the first day, it was evident that they were very open and eager to share issues that they faced in their community as well as possible solutions to the problem. I think that the most valuable asset that this team has is their willingness to listen to other’s ideas and feed off them to form new ones. This characteristic that they share collectively has the capability to make real change within the community, and I look forward to seeing where it takes them.

    This week taught me one of the only things I value higher than learning which is a new way to learn. I have never been in a situation where I have had to rely on some type of communication other than speaking for 5 days straight. My French got better as the week wore on, but I learned through the games that we played, and the expressions that the coaches had on their faces rather than Nora’s translations or explanations of how to play each game. Starting in a community where I didn’t speak the language has prepared me greatly for the upcoming week in Kumba where I will get the opportunity to coach a few games.

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  • Games 4 Good Foundation

    May 22nd 2015. CAC is delighted to announce that we will be partnering with the Games 4 Good Foundation to deliver our sport for social impact programme with local partner Breaking Ground in Cameroon.  We will be introducing our new, innovative ‘ASK for Choice’ female empowerment curriculum to the participants in Ngaoundéré and Dschang from 24 May to 6 June.   The CAC and Breaking Ground Football partnership ensures that young women and girls have safe spaces from which to share their knowledge and express their own visions for their lives and communities.  It creates an opportunity for girls to question harmful social, cultural and religious practices.  Civil equality laws in this region, where they exist, are frequently overruled by traditional, patriarchal ones.  The majority of women and girls are not even aware of what their rights are.  This partnership will raise awareness and empower women and their communities to implement, respect and protect these rights.  We are incredibly excited about the potential of this partnership and thank Games 4 Good Foundation for their invaluable support.

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