• I Will Be Strong!

    July 28, 2018.  Board member Dr. Judith Gates is with our team, back in Kigoma, Tanzania where we held our first-ever program ten years ago. #CAC10.  #WhatsYourLegacy?

    “I Will Be Strong!”

    These were the final words I heard amidst all of the goodbyes, exchange of email addresses and chatter about selfie photo ops that invariably mark the end of a Coaches Across Continents programme. Teachers and coaches were jostling with each other and sharing plans as to how they were going to put all they had learned that week into practice. The group of students, identifiable by their green uniforms, were talking enthusiastically about new insights gained.

    She came up to me. Tall and athletically built, she unexpectedly hugged me, kissed my cheek and said, “Thank you. I will be strong!”

    My spirits soared. I understood what she was saying. I knew what she meant.

    This week’s programme was to mark the 10th anniversary of Coaches Across Continents. Ten years ago the very first CAC programme was held in Kigoma, Tanzania. CAC had returned to mark this important anniversary. It all began here. From one programme in one country in 2008, CAC is now working in over 50 countries around the world.

    All week, with Nick working alongside Nico as leader, the group had focussed on the challenging issue of Child Rights and Child Protection. Curriculum activities had included games in which participants had identified sources of potential harm, recognised the varying forms of abuse, identified who could be of help and which places could be considered safe. They had explored attitudes and expectations relevant to their local community. Teachers and students had shared ideas together during the games, but also worked separately to discuss factors which were specifically relevant to their age group or profession. They had then talked with each and demonstrated their capacity for understanding differing points of view.

    I had led a discussion on abuse. I asked which form of abuse, physical, emotional, verbal or sexual, was most prevalent in their community. Hesitation was minimal. The vast majority of both teachers and students cited sexual abuse. Teenage pregnancies were high. Girls were forced to marry at an early age. Hunger and poverty led to girls being sold, or selling themselves, sometimes for only a bag of rice. The boundary between Child Rights and Women’s Rights blurred as they explored the reality of life for young girls in their community.

    I asked teachers and students, each in their separate group, to think about what could be done, how things could improve. Acknowledging the problem openly was seen as key. The students suggested media reporting, government intervention. Their message was clear. We deserve support and help. Children should not have to experience these things. Teachers suggested education and parental involvement. Both groups wanted answers and action. The aspiration of the girl students was to complete their education and find a job, so that their subsequent life decisions were made from a position of relative strength.

    The final words I shared with them were about personal responsibility. We can turn to others to make the changes we want, but we each have the capacity to influence in some way the context in which we live. I asked them to be strong. I asked them to contribute to the changes they hoped for.

    I told them they each could be part of the solution, they each could contribute to making Kigoma an even better community.

    And she had heard me. Her final words were of latent power, of commitment, of hope. “I will be strong!” That is the message CAC endeavours to leave behind, hoping that it will take root and contribute to locally desired community changes around the world. Another first for Kigoma!

    ~ Dr. Judith Gates

  • Global Leaders in Child Protection

    April 3, 2018. Children’s Rights are of paramount importance to Coaches Across Continents.   One of the pillars of our organization is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. But it is one thing to say that the protection of children is important, and another entirely to actively create policies and implement practices which change communities and cultures in the 50+ countries where we operate. But this is exactly what we are doing. Over 10,400 coaches have signed Child Protection policies because of their participation in CAC On-Field programming.  Our partnership work around the world includes addressing and changing some of the most difficult issues pertaining to child rights and protection, including trafficked children, child soldiers, FGM, restrictive and harmful cultural and religious practice, legal corporal punishment in schools, street children, and more.

    Today we are proud to announce the publication of a new document to further progress Child Protection policies and thinking, entitled “Peace and Child Rights.”  This document continues to frame our Child Protection policy creation and community development on two main fronts:

    1. The understanding that Child Protection is not just as an elimination of abuse, but also the creation of what children should experience in a healthy and happy childhood, namely physically and emotionally safe spaces where they are encouraged in their successes and allowed to constructively learn from their failures as they engage in our SDL environment.
    2. That the relationship between a teacher/coach needs to exist and be a healthy one that allows for a mentorship of children from adolescence into adulthood.

    Coaches Across Continents is already implementing these parameters with all our partner programs globally. Before working with CAC, only 18% of local coaches had received child protection training.  Now over 10,400 coaches at 100% of our programs have gone through Child Protection Training.

    This new publication initiative goes hand in hand with our ongoing work with UNICEF, where we are on three working groups including:

    1. Advocacy and communications on policy and practice;
    2. Quality assurance and access to training and support; and
    3. Research, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning and improvement of resources.

    These active workgroups continue to drive global policy in Child Rights and Protection policies, and came about from our work together as a Pioneering Member of UNICEF’s International Safeguards for Children in Sport.

    CAC also uses our curriculum to educate children and coaches about the rights guaranteed by the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.  Since it’s inception in 2015, our Child Rights curriculum has been used at 88% of our On-Field Programs.

    Coaches Across Continents will continue to be the global leader in Child Protection.  We are already working on ways to continue to eliminate all violence against children (sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse) and to create partnerships and communities which focus on Child Rights advocacy, creating safe spaces, and building healthy mentoring relationships.

    #WhatsYourLegacy?

  • One Jaspreet, One Journey

    December 5th 2017. Community Impact Coach Jaspreet Kaur from YFC Rurka Kalan writes about working with CAC during our partnership with Naz Foundation in Bengaluru.

    My name is Jaspreet Kaur. I have done a post graduation course in my own language Punjabi from Guru Nanak Dev University in Amritsar, Punjab, India. In the last 4 years I have worked with Youth Football Club Rurka Kalan. My job is Training and Monitoring officer, this means I look after the Sports for Development sessions at twenty Government Primary schools near Rurka Kalan, sessions taught by our own Youth Mentors who I have helped train.

    This past week was my first time visiting Bengaluru. I was very happy to have this opportunity and I want say thank you so much to CAC. YFC Rurka Kalan has been working with CAC for five years now and I have got a chance to participate as a CIC in this training with the Naz Foundation. I want to share my experience with you regarding five days training of CAC with The Naz Foundation which was held at Don Bosco Mission Skills Institute at Bengaluru.

    The participants came from different cities such as Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Chennai, Madurai and Bengaluru.

    The five day workshop was based on Leadership, Menstruation, HIV, Conflict Prevention and Gender Equity.

    In the first day some of girls and boys did not speak too much, but slowly slowly their voices got stronger during training. Some of them gave presentations and spoke in front of their other coaches for the first time which was so good to see.

    Naz Foundation is built around coaching Netball which means I learned all new skills for this sport this week. We even made some netball skills called  “Thilaga 1, 2, &3”.  Because the coaches were so experienced, they ended up creating games regarding Menstruation because it is a serious issue that is often overlooked because of taboos. I look forward to going back home and conducting sessions using these games with girls and youth mentors who are working in schools.

    The food of Bengaluru is good. Things I have tasted for the first time include edaly, vadda and Masala Dosa. I have also learned about new apps “Ola and Uber” which helped me get from Bengaluru Airport to Baanarghtta (Don Bosco). 

    It was a great experience for me to learn and share skills with junior coaches, senior coaches and project coordinators. Moreover, I have solved challenges regarding Monitoring evaluation with Charlie and am looking forward to returning to YFC with new skills!

     

  • Oh Yes, We Made a Plan!

    November 14th 2017. CAC Global Citizen and Harvard Alum Heather ‘Action’ Jackson blogs from Nagpur, India about our groundbreaking partnership with Slum Soccer

    I’ve been so lucky as a CAC Global Citizen in so many ways, including having the opportunity to work with longtime partner Slum Soccer here in Bokhara, Nagpur, India. As an outside observer, it struck me that the comfort, familiarity and understanding that CAC and SS have developed together over 8 years, as people and as organizations, created an environment of trust and openness that allowed for real progress to be made this week.

    A common phrase you’ll hear whenever a decision needs to be made is “We make a plan.” This applies to almost any decision that I saw made this week incl: when to leave for Shakti Girls (Girl Power) practice; where to go for delicious Southern Indian dosa and tea; who is going to drive/be a passenger on which motorcycle (all of which read below empty on fuel) and of course which direction to take and grow an organization. Often the decision can take some time; that’s what happens when you have a lot of bright people with different ideas, and/or a lot of bikes and passengers to organize.

    And many plans were made, executed and/or in progress. Highlights include:

    Serious strides in professional and organizational development for Slum Soccer using CAC’s process consultancy framework. It’s not often easy to take the “right” next steps to grow and mature as an organization; the insight and knowledge CAC leaders provided this regard was invaluable and those next steps put into place.

    Development by senior female staff of 3 brand new games for Slum Soccer’s female health & wellness initiative, focusing specifically on menstruation. It was amazing to see the girls open up, voice frustration with, and ask about the verity of, cultural traditions and listen to the SS senior staff support, educate and inform them. You know it’s working and trust exists when the day’s program is ended, and 15 girls are circled around still asking questions and getting answers.

    42 games played with 35 coach/mentor participants, including those designed to address HIV, LGBT, Child Rights and ASK for Choice (Female Empowerment.) It’s truly rewarding to see those girls too shy at the beginning of the week to say anything or even look up from the ground, raising their arms up and shouting “I am strong” or “I have a voice” by the end of the week. Yes change can happen in 5 days.

    An amazing street food tour (once we figured out who was actually on which bike) led by senior SS staff. That “We make a plan” took some time to make following an outing to the cinema featuring Thor, my first Hindi 3D movie, but was so worth it. Thank you Slum Soccer friends and family!

  • Creating Traditions of Woman-Power with Refugees in Jordan

    November 13th 2017. Global Citizen, Ian Phillips, joined us on-field to work with our new ASK for Choice partner, Reclaim Childhood, and their coaches from Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan and Egypt.

    It’s 5am in Amman, Jordan. The first few tentative rays of light are making their way through the night sky. The stillness in the air is broken by the Muslim call to prayer, and the sound echoes across the hilltops, down in to the valleys, and makes its way to my window. The chants are haunting, and beautiful, but did I mention that it’s 5am? The call to prayer rings out from mosque to mosque five times a day and, like the sound that echoes throughout the city, the influence of Islam is pervasive here. It can be heard, seen, and felt in the streets. While this influence manifests itself in many positive ways – such as the kindness, warmth, hospitality and generosity that I witnessed every day, it’s also fair to say that the traditional attitudes many people associate with this part of the world create significant challenges for the women and girls who live here.

    We’re here in Jordan to work with a local NGO called Reclaim Childhood, an organization that uses sport to empower and educate girls. Often, the practices and leagues set up by Reclaim Childhood represent the only opportunity these girls have to leave their house in order to play, exercise, express themselves, and learn important lessons in a safe space. Their all-female staff and coaches are courageous, intelligent, empathetic, compassionate – and inspirational. The highlight of the week was having the opportunity to visit the coaches in action – and seeing a field full of smiling, happy, vibrant young girls. This, more than anything, shows that the efforts of Reclaim Childhood’s brave coaches are worthwhile, and that their programs are having a positive impact.

    The week of training in Amman was an amazing experience. The CAC coaches and myself were able to work with a group of people who are passionate, thoughtful, and genuinely dedicated to creating positive change in their respective communities. I’m grateful for the chance to get On-Field with CAC, and to meet some of the local partners who make this work so worthwhile.

  • Beautiful On The Inside And Out

    November 6th 2017. CAC Global Citizen and Harvard alum Heather ‘Action’ Jackson writes about her first CAC experience with YFC Rurka Kalan in Punjab, India.

    This is my first trip with Coaches Across Continents and the first week has already delivered as promised; thought provoking, inspiring, fulfilling, rewarding, fun, and full of firsts for me, the CAC team and the YFC Rurka Kalan partner participants. On the list of firsts, CAC & YFC announced a formal ASK for Choice partnership addressing gender equity, YFC hosted the first Workshop on Community Gender Policy in the community, and the coach mentors designed their own games to bring this policy to life. I also survived my first of many harrowing Indian driving escapades (apparently rules of the road and licenses are optional) realized for the first time just how important tea time is to all and also how the Punjabi are amazingly hospitable, generous, enjoyable and funny- talk about a quick wit.

    The YFC/CAC Workshop on Community Gender Policy was led by Judith Gates who did an amazing job addressing and engaging women and men from the local community. It was particularly inspiring to watch the YFC mentor coaches lead the breakout groups and encourage participants who would not normally speak out, to do so. An eye-opening first: one of the male attendees commented to CAC leader Charlie Crawford that he had never seen a female speak “like that” i.e. with a strong voice at a public gathering.

    On the field, we played 36 games over 5 days with a specific focus on the ASK for Choice curriculum that addresses gender equity and girls’ and womens’ rights. On a personal note, while this was something important to me from the get go, it became even more urgent as a goal based upon my first hand experience. Long story short: it’s not always awesome being a girl in India.

    Highlights on and off the field include:

    1. The success of the game Indonesia for Attitudes which addresses language and stereotypes. End result: girls voicing “I am strong!” and voicing “I am beautiful on the inside and the outside.
    2. In the words of one of the full time program coaches as we watched Scary Soccer, “All these coach mentors, and especially the girls, have become more expressive; compared to even the beginning of this week with CAC you can see they now want to take the lead and actively participate in the games and discussions. You can hear their voices right now.”
    3. The sense of community among the coach mentors and staff at YFC – including sing alongs after session, the dance off post awarding of certificates, selfies at tea time, and so, so many laughs.
    4. The post week visit to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, the holiest Sikh temple, with Charlie from CAC and Pradeep from Naz Foundation. A must see if you make it to the area; busy yet tranquil at the same time and amazingly beautiful at night all lit up.

    I look forward to following the progress and expansion of YFC Rurka Kalan in partnership with CAC and to all my new friends at YFC: stay strong and beautiful, on the inside and the outside!

    – Cheers, Action