• 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

  • 2018 Global Citizen Application Released!

    September 6th 2017. We are delighted to officially release our 2018 Global Citizen Application Form! Now you can apply to be a 2018 Global Citizen and join Coaches Across Continents as we continue to travel the world, working in communities with partners from 6 different continents, while using sport for social impact.

    Here are some highlights from our 2017 Global Citizens:

    “The work of CAC is powerful – both in the vision and execution. I am very proud of the time I spent volunteering and of the valuable things I learned. I have the utmost respect for those working in social impact. Thank you for letting me be a small piece of the team for a few weeks – I hope to be involved again soon!”

    • Nicole Slevin, South Africa & Zimbabwe Team

    “I will never forget the moment when a prince said, ‘Now, you are one of us.  Don’t be afraid of exploring our village.  You are one of us, and we will take care of you.’

    The capacity of their love is so big that I want to have them around me all the time.  I now have a Malawian family in Chituka village.  Hoping to come back to this beautiful place some day, I said goodbye to the warm heart for now.”

    • JK Cho, Ghana, Malawi, Kenya Team

    “I will miss the people – how they are the real life “energizer bunnies,” never getting tired, always ready for the next task, how they fed me food until I couldn’t possibly take another bite and then proceeded to look at me as if I barely ate anything, and how they welcomed me into their home and country with open arms. I am leaving Uganda with opened eyes, a full stomach, and a happy heart. All I have left to say is: “Webale Nnyo” (Thank you very much)!”

    • Kimaya Cole, Uganda Team

    Create your own Global Citizen Legacy.

    Write your own stories.

    Join us in 2018!

    Apply Now!

    For more information on being a Global Citizen with Coaches Across Continents please read the Global Citizen Application Guide and check out this webpage.

  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy

    September 4th 2017. Coaches Across Continents Global Citizen and Michael Johnson Young Leader Ryan Jones writes about week 2 with the fantastic IndoChina Starfish Foundation in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 

    I have now completed my second week being a Global Citizen with CAC in Phnom Penh with ISF (Indochina Starfish Foundation) coaches and it has been another great week. The ISF coaches took a lot of ownership this week in terms of delivery and planning on who delivers what game. They also directed the CAC team to deliver too as the delivery was split with half the games being run by ISF and the other half being run by CAC. It was great to see so many excellent coaches deliver the social impact games with so much fun and relevance to a range of social issues.

    The last couple of weeks has had a real positive impact on me and I have really valued the ‘just get on with it’ attitude they have in Cambodia. People are genuinely happy with what they have, appreciating the people and opportunities they have around them. The coaches we have been working with have been great at solving problems and have shown this through adapting games and sessions for a range of participants of various ages and abilities.

    Nara, who is one of the lead ISF coaches, on numerous occasions quoted “Don’t worry, be happy” which is a quote that I love and something I will always remember from my trip to Cambodia as whatever your circumstances are, you should always be happy and approach all situations in a positive manner.

    One other highlight that has stood out was on Thursday evening at the farewell dinner in Phnom Penh for the ISF coaches. Jaime spoke very passionately about the impact CAC and the week’s training has had. He said that he works with 5 boys on a separate programme and 3 of them are affected by HIV. They all gained a greater understanding of the social messages and had great fun playing the games. They also started to speak more openly about HIV as well as their own experiences. It is really touching when you hear these stories and the great impact that the CAC curriculum have on the coaches and young people they reach.

    We are moving on to Sihanoukville to train a new group of leaders. I am very excited to be working with a new group of coaches.

  • Having No Plan, Is Planning

    August 2, 2017. Global Citizen Nicole writes about her experience coaching and camping in Zimbabwe as CAC worked with World Parks, World Cup.

    In South Africa, a common phrase you hear is, “We’ll make a plan”. Typically meaning the current situation isn’t going as originally planned and there is no clear solution at the moment. In the States, it’s relatable to creating a “plan B” or trying our very best to “go with the flow”.

    The saying makes me laugh every time I hear it and I hope that I continue to use it when I get home. It makes everything seem OK and less urgent or threatening. In the grand scheme of things, that is true, things will probably work out.

    Our trip to Zimbabwe from Bennde-Mutale, South Africa was definitely one of these situations. While it only takes about 3 hours to walk from SA to the village we were staying in Zim, it was an 8 to 9 hour journey by car, inclusive of a large dried up river bed where your tires easily get stuck in the sand, intense border patrol on both sides & bumpy unmarked roads where the memory of various trees – that all look identical to me – were our compass. Yet, it was never of any concern, we were in good hands with World Parks, World Cup – and well, we made a plan.

    We arrived in Chishinya, Zimbabwe a little before dark, where the Moyo family welcomed us after our long journey. Chishinya isn’t on any map, at least that I’ve seen. And I wasn’t originally expecting to go to Zimbabwe when volunteering – or to be sleeping in a tent, camping under the Milky Way, building a fire each night to cook and stay warm, serving as a space to discuss religion, politics, relationships and all of the joys of life with my travel companions and the Moyo’s.

    In the end, Zim was one of the more rewarding weeks of my time volunteering with CAC. It had the perfect mix of the “expected” pieces of the program – coaching, connecting with people and fun with the kid’s. With the unexpected elements of magic that come along with a true adventure. I live for a good adventure! We experienced elements of life in Zim that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

    Mr. Moyo and his family were special; they were kind to us, naturally warm and loving, treating us like family from the moment we arrived. It’s a comfort you feel around certain people, an aura or energy they exude that can’t be faked. They were happy, loving people who opened their homes, for which I will be forever grateful.

    One of my favorite memories is the hat that Mr. Moyo wore every day with “Nicole” stitched into the front. Maybe it was fate that we were to meet. And as he said when we hugged goodbye, “we will all meet one day in heaven”. Whether heaven exists for you, it’s a nice thought and the most realistic setting for our next meeting.

    It is hard to say goodbye to people after you have become part of their everyday lives, even for only a week. And more so when knowing you won’t be following their Instagram account or sending iMessage photos of your daily life to them. It is unlikely that your worlds will cross again. Regardless, you still hope that they do and the reality is that you will think of them often for some time.

    Most importantly, it felt that we made lasting connections in Zimbabwe, with coaches, teachers and community leaders who were engaged in the games & the social messages that were pertinent to their communities. The beauty of the CAC program is the focus on sustainability, providing the participants with the skills and resources to teach and adapt the games as needed in their local environment.

    I look forward to checking back in on the programs that I volunteered with to see if the same people are involved and the progress that has been made over the next year. The work of CAC is powerful – both in the vision and execution. I am very proud of the time I spent volunteering and of the valuable things I learned. I have the utmost respect for those working in social impact. Thank you for letting me be a small piece of the team for a few weeks – I hope to be involved again soon!

  • Searching for Unideal “Ideal” Places

    July 26th 2017. Global Citizen JK Cho writes about his week on-field working with Mother Child Health Foundation in Kenya.

    “This Is Africa” (“TIA”). People come to Africa and often hear this remark, meaning don’t complain and just shrug off inconvenience or misfortune coming from the cultural or technological difference. As much as I have enjoyed the epic natural beauty and people’s kindness of Africa, I also had to overpass some TIA moments: Catching malaria and spending nights with neither power nor running water were somewhat predictable. It was mentally, physically, and spiritually challenging making a seven-hour-long minivan bus (“matatu”) trip on the bumpiest road I’ve ever been on with 20 people and a bunch of fish and dead animals crammed in. Wherever I go, I would get followed by dozens of kids and get yelled at endlessly, “mzungu (nomad or white man).” If I get lucky, they would call me “China.” Oh, I copped me my Ghanaian tattoo in Kumasi, that is a burn scar on my calf from the exhaust while I was riding a motorcycle taxi (“boda boda”). I was very close to losing it in Gomoa Benso when people full-blasted commercial messages in the streets (like outdoor concert style), from 2 am to 8 am every single night.

    Anyway, these all are unique, cute experiences. When this sort of event happens, I now tell myself it’s one more story to tell when I get back to the states. However, it becomes a nightmare for people working in Africa when their project is put in danger for a “TIA” reason, like this week’s program in Rusinga island in Kenya, for example. Mother Child Health Foundation (Mother Child) was founded by Mary Okech in 2016, with a mission of achieving “0” maternal mortality rate in Homa-Bay County. One day Mary found out that her fourteen-year-old cousin was unwantedly pregnant along with 24 more girls in her high school. The girls starved while they were attending classes, skipping breakfast and lunch. Most of them ended up dropping out of school to find a job to support themselves and their fetus. Mary was mad and devastated and started providing the girls 10 to 20 Kenya shillings (10 – 20 U.S. cents) a day so they could eat and keep going to school.

    In spite of her beautiful mind and passion, Mary had felt inadequate to pursue the task continuously, and Mother Child consistently had faced financial and organizational challenges. Mary found out about Coaches Across Continents (CAC) through her mentor, Joseph, who had had a partnership experience with CAC, and requested a partnership with CAC. Although the start-up charity for young pregnant women’s health was not directly related to training teachers to discuss Self-Directed Learning, CAC decided to work with it to promote sustainable changes in the community. When Team Kenya arrived at Rusinga island, however, things were a lot different from what we were expecting. We found out that Mary got a new job in Nairobi in the mean time and moved out of Rusinga island, so Mother Child had to stop operating tentatively. There was no program. On the first day of the program, a handful of participants from a boy football team showed up, hoping to move to the states, because they thought we were recruiters. T.I.A… Did I not learn that things are subject to get real (or unreal) at any moment? I later figured that there was a significant gap of the way people do things and the expectations between CAC and Mother Child. A lack of technological access in the island also limited communication.

    CAC takes a considerable amount of risk in designing and executing a training program in about 60 different developing countries. It runs 21 programs in Africa this year, and each program is expensive and extremely labor-intense. The nature of social development work in Africa let alone involves lots of uncertainty. Things and words could change quickly here. Language and cultural barriers and limited internet access make it tougher to coordinate a program with a partner in a small rural village. I believe the uniqueness in CAC’s partner selection adds even more risk. CAC choose to work with community’s need based, not based on charity partners’ qualifications and potentials. In other words, CAC seems to want to give an opportunity for any communities who need its help rather than limit it to successful and notable charities. That isn’t a logical decision for growth and security from the business stand point, but a brilliant move for choosing meaningful impact and keeping its integrity. CAC is a mission-driven organization that makes mission-integrated decisions. That is why CAC finds some of these unideal situations ideal. And that is also why CAC is a leading global social impact organization winning Most Impactful Companies and Beyond The Sports awards.

    And then, what happens is that CAC coaches do magic. These guys are working on the frontline of global social impact, playing multiple vital roles. A lot of CAC’s partners in developing countries have organizational and operational weaknesses. Those weaknesses are big obstacles for them to work with international NGOs like CAC hindering their functions and sustainable growth. Besides providing training, CAC coaches create shared value by consulting about a clear vision and mission, strategic directions, relevant impact measures, and functional networks. Helping partners constructing these essentials would consequently improve CAC’s program quality and impact progress in future years. Traveling about 4 to 7 months a year CAC coaches have to be an excellent coach, an international project manager with extensive sympathy, and a travel expert with high-stress tolerance. It really takes a special talent and personality to do the job.

    This week’s hero was coach Mark Gabriel. When we discovered the program was in danger of cancellation, Mark didn’t let that happen. He grabbed Mary, basically rebuilt Mother Child, and saved the program for the whole week. The flying squirrel (Mark’s nickname) first arranged a partnership with a boy health organization in the island and established a foundation to visit schools and provide proper sexual and maternal education. And then, he talked to a women’s vocational school and other women organizations in the island and got some of the teachers and students involved in Mother Child as volunteers. He customized and complicated female empowerment and sexual health related games for Mother Child. Additionally, Mark created surveys and matrix so Mother Child could record and monitor their activities in the future. Finally, he promised Mother Child that he would give a year-around support to Mother Child as an impact consultant. While Mark was beasting, I backed him up by breathing entrepreneurial fumes all over Mary.

    Mary now feels empowered and believes running Mother Child is her destiny. She believes CAC’s mind-training- using one’s own body helps make a habit of identifying one’s issues, taking actions, and make changes. Mother Child now has a structure, tasks, and people to work with. She said her long-term goal is to build a school for young pregnant women in Homa Bay. The training result also turned out pretty well. 27 Rusinga Islanders of local teachers, students, volunteers, and players participated the training. As a result, we estimated the program would potentially benefit 493 children. The size of this week’s program was nothing impressive, but the meaningfulness of the impact was tremendous and would be memorable. CAC finds another unideal ideal place and gets one-step closer to its mission.