• Chennai learns about Gazza

    May 26th 2015. After two exciting weeks in Kolkata, I headed to Chennai to continue strengthening our partnership with Slum Soccer and Chevrolet FC and train another group of future coaches and youth leaders. The Slum Soccer Chennai team had selected a few coaches from their various centers in Tamil Nadu who will be responsible for implementing the CAC curriculum every week in their respective communities. The training effectively served as the transition between the first and second instalments of the Gamesa league. Building off of the excitement from the final tournament, just a week before, we worked to set the foundation for a strong second year of football for social impact throughout the region. Protection of the environment, gender equality and alcohol abuse were the chosen social issues for the week.

    The five Gazza games we played on Wednesday had tremendous success. Gazza is the player for our alcohol abuse module. All five games were chosen on Friday by participants to coach back to their peers. This demonstrates both how much the issue hit home but also their commitment to football for social impact. Although this was their first time to coach, they made a conscious effort to deliver the social messages associated with each game. What was remarkable was that each group described Gazza’s story in their own way and identified different lessons that could be learned. Some coaches also had fun inventing another  version of Gazza Dizzy tag. Gazza Dizzy tag is a game where the taggers have to turn around themselves while running, making it very difficult to catch players as they loose their balance, very much like the effects alcohol can have on one’s body. Instead of a tag game, players had to spin ten times around themselves and then try to score a goal, if they even managed to get to the ball before falling down.

    The training took place on a football field right in the middle the Mylapore community. This type of setting makes it easy to generate community support for a program. Slum Soccer has recently started working with Mylapore residents who are somewhat of an anomaly in cricket-crazy Chennai. We took advantage of the interest created by the training and the productive discussion after Marta for Gender Equity about why girls should play sport and why they don’t to invite girls from Mylapore for a fun session on Thursday afternoon. The three sole female participants led the games. More girls have been joining teams as a result of last year’s training and many of the participants have discussed the idea of opening girl centers when they return to their own communities.

    It has been exciting to witness Slum Soccer’s growth throughout India and there is no doubt that this new set of youth leaders will continue to expand the partnership’s impact to their different communities.

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  • New Punjab

    December 3, 2014. Volunteer Coach Billy Hawkey tells us about his time with CAC On-Field in Punjab, India working with YFC Rurka Kalan. Billy first joined us in October for two weeks in Lima working with Unicef Peru.

    After two weeks in Delhi, arriving in Punjab was literally a breath of fresh air. Vast fields of potatoes, corn, wheat, sugar cane, kinnos groves, and farms in all directions. Shining stars and cool, crisp nights, the agriculturally rich state of Punjab provided a stark contrast to the country’s buzzing and beeping capital.

    When we arrived at the YFC Rurka Kalan headquarters we were taken out to walk the field and get a lay of the land for where we would be for the week. The stadium was pristine, and the well kept natural grass pitch was flat, wide, and green. We all sensed that it was going to be a good week.

    After walking the field we met inside the office with Prateek, a member of YFC, over a cup of chai to discuss the expectations and goals for the week, as well as familiarize ourselves with the local social issues. The main problems that were identified were substance abuse and gender equality (or lack there of). We assured Prateek that these issues would be addressed during the week with various games from our curriculum.

    We learned that 60% of Punjab’s youth are believed to be using medical or synthetic drugs and that 1 in 3 households in Punjab have a drug addict living in their home. It is easy for Punjabi children to succumb to drug and alcohol abuse simply because they have nothing else to do. That is why at YFC, the players have structured training 320 of the 365 days of the year.

    Gender equality is also a major issue in Punjab. Girls are confined by tradition which views sport as a male hobby. Society’s dominant stance on women in the community is that they belong in the home. For this weeks’ training we were going to be working with a group of predominantly young female leaders in the morning from 9-1, and a boys team in the afternoon from 2-6. One of the reasons for this was because from 2-6, women in Punjab are supposed to be in the home working.

    Our days began with a half mile walk to the YFC center from our guest house down the road. We had breakfast at8:00 a.m. in the YFC kitchen. Breakfast consisted of omelets, bananas, cereal with hot milk, juice, toast, stuffed chapatti, and of course, chai. Chai is like water in India; at the end of a game during the week, kneeling over at the knees and out of breath, a man exclaimed “I need, chai!”. The kitchen always smelled amazing. Hot chapatti being turned out every minute, and local organic vegetables being seasoned and prepared the Punjabi way.

    YFC has a residential facility that houses an elite u-14 boys team comprised of high level players from all over India. The boys live here for several years training and attending school which overlooks the main field. At 9:00 a.m. we began classroom sessions with our first group, approximately 40 individuals, 30 of whom were females. These sessions included “What makes a good coach?”, review of the games that we played from the previous day, group presentations, and a child rights discussion/training. By 10:00 a.m. we were on the field ready to play.

    On the first day the majority of women arrived in their saris and sandals. Despite the fact that we suggested they wear athletic clothes, the group was comfortable in their outfits and continued to sport their colorful silks for the rest of the week (but with a few more sneakers). The group was new to futbol, but eager to learn. An older woman revealed that this was the first time she’d ever played a sport. Being 50 years old, she explained that old tradition had kept her away from sports, and that her parents and society saw no value in it, especially for girls; an idea that is still held by many in India. However she was ready to break away from the restrictions of traditional society, and proved to be a symbol of change and courage for everyone. Her story sparked an applause from the group; and she demonstrated first hand a core belief of CAC, that is to challenge and question tradition.

    At this point Community Impact Coach, Guru, asked the group to look around and notice something. All of the women were standing shoulder to shoulder in the front, and all the men were standing together in the back. “That’s old Punjab” Guru exclaimed, “we want New Punjab”, and with a slight hesitation, the group intermixed the genders. Boys and girls don’t play sports together in Punjab. At least until now.

    A game that brought this message to life was Marta for Gender Equity. In this game two teams play a game of futbol to goals. However, one team plays with all of their players and the other team plays with only half. This creates an 8v4 situation. The four players sitting out represent women and their team represents only the men participating in society. The other team with all eight players represents a cohesive community in which both men and women are utilized. After about 10 minutes we brought the group together to discuss. The excluded players said it wasn’t fun or fair to have to sit and watch. It was noticed how much better the full team did in this game, just as a society functioning with all of its resources similarly is more successful. Teams reversed roles so the other group could experience how it feels to be excluded from participating in sports. Finally, the third progression starts with both teams playing 4v4. When a team scores a goal they get to bring another player on; representing empowering a female to play. This must be done by verbally communicating an empowering message to the women on the sidelines. The energy and excitement on the faces of the players, especially the men, when they had the chance to bring on a female, was amazing. I watched a man sprint to the sideline with a huge smile on his face, screaming in Punjabi and lift a woman to her feet to play. This was not just a product of the competitiveness of the game; these powerful sentiments for equal opportunity for women in sport was expressed genuinely and proudly by the men in the discussions. It was acknowledged that if women had the same opportunities to train and develop starting at the same age as men, then they would be just as skillful. YFC is hoping to achieve this by training their female youth leaders and starting women’s teams this season.

    At the end of a midweek session we drank more chai, sang and danced on the field and a small talent show was conducted as well. Definitely a new way of cooling down.

    After a delicious lunch, we switched gears and began our afternoon session with the YFC boys team. These boys, all dressed in their light blue training kits, were ready to play. The pace was quicker with the afternoon group; the ball zipped around the field in one and two touch, and players were sliding into their tackles.

    An impactful day was our Gazza day, with four games centered around substance abuse. Discussion questions included why people engage in anti-social behaviors, the effects of abuse on the individual and the community, safe spaces, support systems, and good decisions. One game in particular that held a strong impact was Gazza scrimmage. Two teams play a scrimmage to goals, one tem must walk at all times and the other team has no limitations. The walking team represents alcohol/drug addicts, who have clearly had their athletic abilities hindered by sustained substance abuse. This game followed Gazza dizzy tag, in which taggers must first spin around 10 times (or 20 if Guru is leading) before chasing players, exhibiting the immediate effects of intoxication. Gazza scrimmage shifts the message to an addiction and the effects it has on your life over time, and the effect it has on the community. The walking team got smacked, and the game bridged a discussion of alcohol and substance abuse and how it’s bad for relationships, school, functioning in society, and sports. It was clear by the discussion that these boys have chosen futbol as an alternative to drugs and alcohol.

    The two groups we had this week were unique and equally enjoyable. The week flew by and both groups understood the objective of the training as evidence of the coach back sessions on the final day in which participants are put in small groups and have the opportunity to lead games on their own that we did over the course of the week, adapt them how they would like, and even invent new games if they please. The coaches demonstrated confidence in their coaching and incorporated the social messages fluently.

    Until this training, YFC had focused mainly on player development in their sessions, without integrating social messages in games. But they are ready for change. They are ready for New Punjab.

     

    Side note: In the nights I played with people from town under the lights on the YFC pitch. Guru and I combined for a few nice goals. On our day off we traveled to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and visited the India/Pakistan border for a closing ceremony between the two country’s army officials.

     

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  • “Let me do it myself and then I will understand it” (Confucius)

    November 2nd, 2014. Senior Staff member, Markus Bensch writes about his time in Cape Verde with Delta Cultura.

    I’m sitting at the international airport of Praia, Cape Verde and waiting to start my long journey to South Africa. After 7 weeks Off-Field my first two weeks back On-Field are about to end. I experienced a great program with 22 participants at the Football for Hope Center in Tarrafal which is hosted by Delta Cultura. It was the 2nd year of our Hat-trick Initiative with this organization that educates the children and youth in the community of Tarrafal to reach higher formal education and develop social skills. I was very happy that we could welcome more than 60% returning coaches who were very eager to do their next step in becoming Self-Directed Learners in football for social impact.

    The participants were very eager to learn many new games and actively participated in the conversations that very often caused controversial discussions. During the two weeks training we focused mainly on the topics Conflict Resolution, Alcohol and Drug Abuse as well as Children’s Rights and powerful female role models in football. Many conflicts in Tarrafal are still getting solved with violence by throwing stones at each other or hitting each other with them. The participants were very competitive which caused conflict in many games, even those that are not particularly designed for Conflict Resolution. I was very impressed how little cheating did happen in the games and if it happened, then people would instantly admit that they have cheated or do the exercise again to correct their behavior. We also had a very intense discussion about leadership and the question if anybody can be a leader and what makes a good leader. Both leadership and honesty are very important when looking for solutions, other than violence, to solve conflicts.

    Confucius’ proverb says “Explain it to me and I will forget. Show it to me and I will remember. Let me do it myself and then I will understand.” Following this advice we spent a lot of time during our training on coach-backs where the participants can implement their ideas and practice their coaching. Starting from the Friday in the first week, every day a different group of three or four people conducted a one hour session with social impact games for the children that spent the morning at Delta Cultura’s education center. Our 2nd year of training focuses on developing the participants’ skill of adapting our CAC games. I was very impressed by some of the adaptations that the coaches developed for their session. For example there was a group who changed our Gazza Dizzy Tag game. In this game taggers have to spin around ten times before they try to tag players in a set square which is obviously very difficult for them. It illustrates the negative effects of alcohol abuse on our bodies and performance. In the adaptation players were divided into different groups of 4 or 5 players lining up behind a cone ready for a race. Then the first player had to run to the cone which was placed a few meters away and run 10 times around this cone before he/she would return to his/her team and tag the next player that would go and do the same. Some players even struggled to finish the 10 spins around the cone. I liked this adaptation very much, because it allowed every player to experience the consequences of consuming too much alcohol or drinking at an early age.

    For the following year I hope the participants will progress with what they have learned during the two weeks and that the experience of conducting successful coach-back sessions motivates each of them to regularly implement football for social impact before we come for our 3rd year of training.

    I’ve got to go; they are calling all passengers to the gate for boarding. I’m off to my 38 hours journey from Praia through Lisbon, Amsterdam, Zurich and Johannesburg to Durban, South Africa to coach Whizzkids United and their coaches from next week Monday. This is the organization I volunteered for 15 months before I started to work for CAC in April this year. I’m really looking forward to the reunion with some of my old colleagues and I’m interested to see the progress the organization has made since I left. In June this year they finally opened their Football for Hope Center which means that another perfect artificial pitch is waiting for my colleague Kelly and me. That makes me even more excited!

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  • CAC and TYSA – From a CIC

    May 7, 2014. Charles Otieno Sisia (Oti) from long-time CAC partner, Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP) in Nairobi, joins CAC programs for his second year as a Community Impact Coach. He writes about his week with Trans-Nzoia Youth Sports Association (TYSA) where he joined CAC staff member, Nora Dooley, for a week in Kitale, Kenya.

    Oti leads participants in the ever-favorite Mingle MIngle

    Oti leads participants in the ever-favorite Coaches Across Continents game Mingle Mingle

    Another great year at TYSA. This was the second year that CAC worked with the partner organization based in Trans-Nzoia County, Kenya.

    TYSA organized a one week camp with more than a hundred participants and half of them participated in the CAC training from Monday 28th April to Friday 2nd May at Makutano Secondary School.

    Over the training Nora Dooley, an experienced and motivated CAC coach, led the on-field and off-field sessions assisted by myself, Charles Otieno Sisia, as I was selected for the second year as a CAC Community Impact Coach (CIC). Before the start the participants highlighted the issues they face in Trans-Nzoia and what they would like to learn from CAC. Some of the issues included child labor, neglect, early marriage, lack of education, alcohol and drug abuse, lack of career opportunities, negative peer pressure, and malnutrition. A major part of the week was spent playing games that focused on leadership, voice, education, identifying and creating safe spaces, and complete health and wellness.

    Protect your body from germs - Hygiene Tag!

    Protect your body from germs – Hygiene Tag!

    Off-field sessions were held in the school hall where the participants took notes and asked questions about the sessions that they were now able to teach.

    The participants gained more confidence, voice, and leadership skills after playing the Circle of Friends, doing the skills of Wilshere and Marta, and also they got an opportunity to teach back what they had learned to the younger participants, and clearly deliver social impact messages.

    The participants declared to fight for their rights and child rights, and to protect and never abuse children. This was the bill of rights and child protection session with Coach Nora.

    Gazza Safe Spaces Tag was one of the best games talking about space spaces when home was not a safe space for everyone. Women empowerment activities were superb with girls now having a voice to ask for their rights and room in sporting activities, careers and other opportunities. Health games also worked well for both genders and participants were able to talk about their bodies during Hygiene Tag.

    The participants graduated and have now joined us to educate more people on football for social impact by teaching the CAC sessions.

    Scary Soccer getting pretty scary! Oti stays cool

    Scary Soccer getting pretty scary! Oti stays cool working with Coaches Across Continents