• A Glimpse at the Future

    Friday, August 7, 2015. The Malaika Foundation in the Democratic Republic of Congo is the first program partnership for our new ASK for Choice curriculum for female empowerment.

    Every day this week we had local street children watching our trainings at the FIFA Football for Hope Center in Kalebuka, DRC. This is not unusual. However one young girl caught our attention. Not more than five or six herself, she was carrying her infant brother on her back the duration of the week as she intently watched our trainings. She was the caretaker of her infant brother despite being a young child herself. But what was happening On-Field during the week will begin to address cultural change for the future in terms of gender equity and community responsibility. The Malaika Foundation is our first ASK for Choice Partnership and will be using sport to bring gender policies to life in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

    The interest in our ASK for Choice partnership was tremendous from the Malaika Foundation which is led by Noella Coursaris. Both the total overall attendance and the female attendance were the highest achieved for any program in CAC’s history. 238 coaches participated in our training, with 140 of the participants being women. Together the men and women learned from our ASK for Choice curriculum.   ASK for Choice aims to use sport to bring gender policies to life.

    Based on comprehensive research, thorough M&E and 25 years of experience, CAC has developed ASK for Choice which aims to enhance the Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge of women and their communities to educate them to be drivers of change. ASK for Choice will strengthen the roles of women in sport and society and create a generation of leaders with community responsibility.

    As an ASK for Choice Center, the Malaika Foundation is expected to work with CAC and deliver measurable results. ASK for Choice will increase partners’ capacity to bring about sustainable, tangible change with regard to gender equality and women’s rights. Along with our program this year, we also were able to meet with Thérèse Lukenge, the Minister of Sport in Katanga Province. Alongside the government, we will be working together to bring gender policies to life in Katanga Province.

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  • A Hopeful Transition

    August 7th 2014. CAC volunteer Layla Joudeh blogs about her CAC experience in southern Africa and returning home.
    7 weeks later and I’m sitting at home in South Carolina. I never thought this day would come. And by the end of the trip, I wasn’t quite sure if I wanted my time with CAC to end. Back in the USA, a different life awaits- college, friends, and family. I think part of my hesitation towards my time ending was the fear of adapting to a Western life again. 7 weeks ago I was focused on transitioning from busy college student in New England to soccer coach in southern Africa. Now my focus is on adapting back to school with all the experiences I gained from CAC. The last few days in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of the Congo were a great way to end my trip but did make leaving a little more difficult.
     
    After partnering with the Georges Malaika Foundation (GMF) and the FIFA Football for Hope Center in the previous week, we had the opportunity to work with GMF’s school. We played games with GMF’s students, teachers, and parents. The Monday with the students was one of my favorite days of the entire seven weeks in southern Africa. All of GMF’s students are young females, so we worked with about 60 girls that were 4, 5, and 9 years old. When we first pulled into the school, the younger students greeted us with a welcome song. Charlie, Jamie, and I tried singing along, but we didn’t sound quite as good as the girls. We spent the rest of the day playing our games with the students. The girls were a little hesitant when we started Circle of Friends- our simple, fun warm up- but as soon as Charlie and Jamie showed off their dance moves as part of the warm up, the girls didn’t stop laughing and smiling. The students didn’t know English so our main forms of communication were silly faces, funny voices, kicking around the ball, and some cone balancing on our heads (see above picture). Anything that we did, the girls were eager to try. Needless to say, Jamie’s elephant impression was a hit. At the end of our break, there was a parade of elephants traversing the field. Playing with the kids was incredibly fun. After seven weeks of coaching, I’ve never had a dull moment with children. They are eager to the play the games and are easily entertained, which makes our jobs a lot more fun(ny).
     
    The following two days were spent working with teachers and parents of the students. When I first approached one of the moms, she berated me in a fairly motherly tone about how my shorts reminded her of underwear. Most of the parents we worked with dressed in the traditional patterned cloth dresses or skirts that came down to their ankles. I realized I was a little out of place in the group of mothers. But soon after we started playing games, everyone was having fun together. We had a pretty competitive group that absolutely loved handball games. The parents and teachers were strong, athletic, and didn’t like losing. On the last day, Charlie and I participated in a few games while we were coaching. We were having a blast, and I truly didn’t want the day to end. For our last game, we brought the students, parents, and teachers on the field for a round of scary soccer- a fun adaptation of rock, paper, scissors. The girls were cheering and excited to play. The adults were getting more invested in the games as their students’ enthusiasm grew.  When a team won a round of scary soccer, the parents, teachers, and kids would all jump up and down and chant their team’s name. I watched from a far for one round of scary soccer and couldn’t help but smile and laugh about this awesome, fun, and funny experience. Different generations were working together and having fun because of a simple game. Sport gave different generations a medium to connect and learn together. That was one of my favorite parts about CAC- watching age and cultural barriers breaking down because of simple, fun games.
     
    As I try to get accustomed to life back in the United States, I can’t help but think of the people I had the opportunity to work with for the past seven weeks.They taught me that adapting to other cultures, people, and communities can be much easier once common ground was found. For the past seven weeks that common ground ranged from a dirt field, a school’s soccer field, a tennis court, and a FIFA Football for Hope Center. Maybe next time I need to adapt to a new group of people, environment, or job, I’ll ask my colleagues to find some grass or dirt to play on because that sure did teach me a lot this summer.
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  • Peace in the DRC

    August 4th 2014. CAC volunteer Jamie Wheaton blogs from Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo.

    My team was welcomed with open arms as we crossed the border into the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The administrators of the Georges Malaika Foundation smoothed our transition across the border, which would have been difficult considering none of our team spoke any French, the official language of Congo. Over the next few weeks I would pick up some key phrases, most of which won’t help me if I have to speak French anywhere other than a soccer field. As we walked into our hotel, Sarah, the manager at the Kalebuka Football for Hope Center, gave us details for the week ahead of us. She, and the rest of the GMF team, were some of the most organized people I’ve worked with. They had every minute of our stay planned, even adjusting to unexpected surprises, like a trip to a neighboring farm or a detour so my peer could braid her hair (a decision we all regret). I was truly impressed by the coordination of the foundation all week.

    This week had a different tone for me than any of the previous ones. For a start, there were over 65 people there, more than twice the amount I had worked with previously. While it was encouraging that Coaches Across Continents was reaching this many people, it made it harder to connect to the coaches on a personal level (the language barrier didn’t help either). While some characters stood out (a man who insisted on being called “Strong Man” is one) overall I didn’t feel as personally connected to some of the coaches who worked in the morning.

    The afternoons were a different story: working with a small group of around 15 people we worked with the GMF employees to address specific problems in the society. Even though everything took twice as a long with a translator, we were still able to help them come up with possible solutions for child abuse, and child rights. The passion displayed in that room for the children in their community was very moving.

    One thing that was unique about the program in Lubumbashi was that we tested out Peace Day games. International Peace day is scheduled for September 21st, and Coaches Across Continents will be supporting the cause by providing Peace Day games to communities in over 130 countries! Lubumbashi was our guinea pig for these games, and they were a big success. What to Do When Faced With a Problem and Understanding Violence were big crowd pleasers. Peace Day is  a UN sponsored international holiday, and will be celebrated all around the world. Whats more, this year DRC will be the main focus country for Peace Day with many events promoting non-violence.

    Overall, the GMF foundation impressed me with the care and commitment they’ve shown to promoting child’s rights. There dedication to the children in their area was incredible, and made my experience in Lubumbashi one of the most memorable of my whole trip.

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  • DRC Launch Our Peace Day Football Resource Packet

    July 25, 2014.  On Monday Coaches Across Continents announced the largest-ever sport for social impact partnership and released a free football resource packet in the build up for One Day One Goal on Peace Day, 21 September.  Already over 100 organizations worldwide have requested and received this football resource packet.  Within our first week, one group, the Georges Malaika Foundation in Kalebuka, DRC, have had 65 coaches play the Peace Day games during their training with CAC.

    The Peace Day games are fun. They help us with some skills such as speed, fitness, quick movements and they have a social message. For example teamwork, respect and telling everyone that men and women have the same opportunities. – Elvis Nshimba, Teacher, Georges Malaika Foundation

    By 21 September, Coaches Across Continents and Peace One Day expect these specially-developed games will be played in over 130 countries, by thousands of communities, impacting hundreds of thousands of children and coaches.
    The important Peace Day messages such as violence in the community and understanding stereotypes are clear through the training. Technically, we have learnt passing and control in the games along with the strategy of football. All the coaches had a lot of fun and appreciated the training which has changed their way of thinking about their role in the community.
    – Jerome Ilunga, Sports Manager, Georges Malaika Foundation
    To get involved and receive your free Football Resource Packet for your organization, please email Emily at
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