Fueling A Social Change Warrior In Zimbabwe
May 26, 2017. Community Impact Coaches Shingirirai and Dorothy write about their week working with CAC, coaching the SLIZ program in Harare, Zimbabwe.
This was a week where we took the classroom to the comfort of the playing field. I did not only facilitate, teach and instruct, but had the opportunity to learn as well from the community of teachers and sports people. Coaches Across Continents did not only empower me with sports drills, but created a budding hero, and fueled the warrior in me to be a game changer back in the community and beyond. It equipped me with the broadening of my horizon to discover that there are lessons through sports which can be picked even during times of struggle.
I have come to the realization that sport is not only about competition, improving speed and winning, but also empowerment through knowledge of life skills. I have been trained to teach, not only the youth, but adults too. I am inspired to become a point person in my community and beyond, to provide a series of education even after the attachment. Coaches Across Continents have invested in me authority to solve problems, challenges, and conflicts through sports. It was so inspiring to create games of my own.
It was a really great experience to have CAC in Zimbabwe. Being a coach who is mainly involved in football for competition, I never thought of football as a way to change lives, and create skills as a way to make an impact in people’s livelihood. CAC taught me how I can use sport coaching to implement character building, self-confidence, fight diseases, amongst a host of life changing games which work in our day to day realities.
Also, the planning phase before working, and evaluation of work done was very educational. Working with CAC benefited me a lot in execution of work, planning, and group motivation as a facilitator. The exposure was worth it. I really feel empowered that I have been given this opportunity by CAC as a female. This shows that women can be leaders and that the sky is the limit. Working the program was fun, I benefited a lot, and it was an amazing experience. My wish the next time CAC comes is that it will encompass those coaches in the remote areas, especially to promote the girl children and to empower them to be future leaders. Thumbs up to CAC for the amazing job they do across continents. It was an honor to work with Em and Ash, they were very fun and social people that left me richer with knowledge and life changing games.
Spreading the Love
May 18th 2017. CAC’s Ashlyn Hardie writes about her first week On-Field in Harare, Zimbabwe with the Sports and Recreation Commission.
For months now I have been working part time for CAC, taking care of all social media outlets, newsletters, and posting the blogs from everyone else’s travel adventures. Finally, after months of build up to my first trip on-field as a CAC employee, I am able to post a blog about my very own personal experiences! Although this trip is the first of many experiences for me, I can already tell it will be incredibly unique.
Our partners, Sports and Recreation Commission of Zimbabwe, have put us up at the guest lodge of Prince Edwards High School. This all boys boarding school is incredibly well known in Zimbabwe for producing the highest quality athletes, and giving a wide range of opportunities for their students to succeed in their future endeavors. Not only this, but the campus stands as a little patch of peace and beauty in the heart of the noise and commotion of Harare. Within hours of being on campus it seemed as though we had made so many new friends. The hospitality from every single Prince Edwards staff member was more than Emily and myself could have asked for. Teachers that we had met would swing by our place to walk us to meals at the dinning hall, offer to drive us to the store, took us to a professional game, and answered all of the many questions we had about life in Zim. Our partners at SRC and the people of Prince Edwards made us feel at home from the moment we arrived.
The program this week took place at the PE training field, approximately 30 yards from our bedroom windows. It could not have been a better scenario for us to be able to walk out of our rooms, and onto the field! Plus that’s the dream right? Living spitting distance from a soccer pitch?
Although the people of Zim are all raised speaking Shona, they all also learn English in school. This absolutely minimized our communication barriers, which made for a relaxing, smooth week with our participants. Being able to truly hear how they felt, and sense what they thought about certain topics without a translator gave us a more genuine feel for how these coaches interpreted the social issues in Zimbabwe. I had never seen the up close CAC on-field conversations before this week, but it is hard for me to imagine having them go much better. Some of the stand out conversations from the week were about child’s rights, female empowerment, environmental issues, and an incredibly controversial conversation about HIV education and our game titled “Condom Tag”.
It was clear that throughout the week these 40 humans from different places and backgrounds were growing together and really digging in to discuss the issues that are sweeping over their communities. As much as I would love to highlight those talking points for anyone who reads this, I think it is more important to share how it felt to be in the presence of those conversations. I was not one hundred percent on how the games would work, and what they would provoke in person, but they exceeded my expectations. There were moments where you could see a lightbulb pop off above someone’s head, where they realized exactly how to convey this message to their kids, moments when you could feel the passion people had for their youth and communities from the tone of their voice. There were moments, not one but many, where I found myself contemplating the differences between my life at home and the lives of those I have come to know and appreciate here in Zim.
The people of Zim are faced with governmental corruption, poverty, a lack of resources for their teams, and other ongoing hardships on a daily bases. Through this they walk with smiles. These coaches are working with minimal resources for their kids, and still are willing to give everything they have to make their communities a better place. Even those hosting us, have their own struggles, yet have done everything they can do to help us get around the city and feel welcomed. Writing this makes me think of all of those walking the planet who have everything but find themselves unhappy or unfulfilled. I think there is much to be said about the people of Zim, how they approach adversities, how they work and learn to be the best for the future generations, and how they walk with smiles even in hard times.
I have spent my life loving the game of soccer, knowing what it did for me, and watching it change the lives of people around me. Here, thousands of miles away from home, I watch it do the same. This first week solidifies all the reasons that I took this job, and all the excitement I have moving forward in my time with CAC. At the end of our week one participant stood up and thanked us. He thanked us for coming in and making them feel comfortable, like equals, and like their voice mattered. My immediate response was to thank him too, because these people Harare took in two goofy white girls from the United States of America and hosted us with respect, kindness, and laughter. Soccer is not just a game. It is a lifestyle, a teacher, and a hope. Soccer is love. And on that note, I am happy to say I have 6 more weeks of this trip to keep on spreading it!
On the Sandy Grounds of Maramba
Community Impact Coach Frank Chivawura, from Zimbabwe, writes about his work with CAC and New Hope Waves in Livingstone, Zambia.
July 5th 2016. The amazing thing about sport is that despite our differences, it brings us together. I was privileged to meet with Nora, Carrie and Nico, the CAC coaches at Harare’s Prince Edwards Boys High where they were facilitating a Coaches Across Continents (CAC) training in Zimbabwe, in conjunction with Sports Recreation Commission of Zimbabwe. The experience in Zambia would not have been the same without this vibrant group.
It was a long journey from Zimbabwe, Harare to Livingstone, Zambia. Nico and I left for Zambia at 17:00hrs only to arrive in Livingstone, Zambia at 07:30 the following morning. This was my second time as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) but my first time travelling internationally with Coaches Across Continents.
It was an exciting week in Livingstone. CAC was working with the New Hope Waves in the sandy Namatama grounds of Maramba. Being the second time as a CIC, the first time being in my country Zimbabwe, I had thought that all was going to be the same as the last time, but I was wrong. It was a different country, place, ground, different CAC coaches, and even the way the curriculum was delivered was different and more exciting.
I had the opportunity to train more than 30 community coaches who were a delight to work with. They were passionate and very eager to learn more games. What excited me the most was the feedback we had every morning when the coaches came to the field for training. From the day we started training with the few games that the coaches learnt, the games were already being implemented. Some of the coaches had teams they were training in the afternoons and the CAC games were already being used. It made me feel so warm inside. I felt so much confidence and it made me realise that it can only take but a few to change the way people think in life. Already, I could see change in the coaches. Coaches started coming early and could not wait to start training. And in the afternoons they implemented what they had learnt. All this made me recall this statement from one of the CAC leaders Adam Burgess, “being on the field when you see children and coaches smiling you know that learning is taking place”. Coaches were smiling and so excited to know what was coming next which was a good sign. Even When Nora, who was leading our group, asked for the coaches to go for water breaks, on several occasions you would hear the coaches saying ‘no no let’s move on we need more games’.
Nora made it all easy for me as she was supportive and was always encouraging coaches. Her ways of coaching were different and yet educating and very exciting. She made coaches laugh doing her cuckoo dance which was hilarious. CAC volunteer Carrie Taylor was calm and firm. She made the whole week wonderful with the unique way she used Children’s Rights in coaching games. And CIC Nico from Tanzania was full of fun. This team was great and I learnt a lot through each and every game they taught.
On the last day of training during the coach backs, I was so impressed by the way the games were being adapted. One of the groups led by Musso performed the Children’s Rights game in a different way. They had four areas that represented different child rights and what was beautiful and touching was that the group changed the way the game was played and brought in hand ball. In the game they used hands instead of feet. The rule was before passing the ball you should first touch the ground with the ball then pass. The team would score points by receiving the ball in the grid and the whole team has to shout the type of right the grid represented together.
I was very excited to be part of this group and am so thankful to the organizers of CAC who made it possible for me to travel to Zambia which made me feel important and useful in the community. Sports for social impact will go a long way in changing people’s lives. Though there is still a lot of work to be done in our communities, this initiative will help a lot of people, teachers, coaches and students play their part in their communities.
One Love: Harare, Zimbabwe
June 27th 2016. CAC volunteer Carrie Taylor writes about her 1st CAC experience in Harare, Zimbabwe.
When analyzing my time in Zimbabwe through Coaches Across Continents, I keep coming back to the idea of the incredible power of sport, and in this case the sport is soccer/football. If you can mention the name Messi, Marta, Ronaldo or talk about an EPL team, you can strike up a conversation with anyone and make an instant connection.
CAC brought me to Harare to work with the wonderful coaches of Zim through the Sports Recreation Commission via Neswten Chipoya. Newsten was quiet yet very strong in organizing people. He did a tremendous job in bringing people together and creating connections. Our zany and energetic leader for the week was Nora Dooley from CAC along with Nico who is from Tanzania whose outgoing personality and his penchant for teaching wood ball was a hit with the participants.
As a longtime coaching educator in the US, I have had a lot of experiences with working with coaches, so going in, I was very interested in how different the CAC curriculum was and how it was to be delivered from the typical US coaching course.
First off I was blown away by the shear number and strength of the women in the course. I was able to meet Rosemary who was the former Zimbabwe Women’s National team coach, and a some of her former players; Lillian, Bridget, Dorothy and Elizabeth to name a few. Many of whom were returning to the CAC program for the second or third time. Then we had a group of 6 female teachers from Masvingo who travelled 400k by bus to come learn how to impact their primary and secondary students in their area. All these women were strong, powerful, outspoken and well respected by every man in the course. During the week through the CAC games and group work about Gender Equality, Child Rights, and Healthy Behaviors these women made sure their opinions were heard and that they garnered respect from everyone in the course.
A few of these women mentioned above, then came together again later after the week was done along with other female sport leaders in Zimbabwe. Nora introduced the women to CAC’s ASK for Choice Curriculum. These women met for discussions about first how to support one another in their challenges and second to start to form a Women’s Sports Leaders Group with the support of the SRC. To be apart of these discussions was great for me, as we have similar challenges in the US and I have been active lately in the growth of the female voice in soccer back home.
Another one of the key people who not only drove us around all week, but made it a goal to make sure that we were able to watch the Euros at the local pub was Julius. Julius was the epitome of the power of sport. During the week we found out that Julius had lived recently and gone to school in Leipzig, Germany, was a PE teacher and coach at Cornway College, which is a private school outside of Harare. Julius also was graduate of the University of Zimbabwe. Besides liking Man U, 😉 Julius was a wonderful, thoughtful and kind host. He showed us the underlying passion, spirit and drive of many of the coaches we met in Harare. We were able to meet a few of his players during the week and very much saw the mutual respect and caring between Julius and the young men that he coaches.
Then there was Wisdom, whose contagious energy, passion and zest for soccer was evident from the smile and joy he exuded every time you were around him. When playing a CAC adapted game that we would typically identify as “Partner Steal the Bacon”, instead of being given a number your groups of two were identified first by issues surrounding child rights, such as child abuse, child labor, early marriage. Then the game switched and your group was identified by a solution to the issues, such as education, or communication. Wisdom’s group wanted Love to be the solution. This solution struck a chord with me.
LOVE, and in this case our common love of soccer brought this amazing group of coaches together for a week. Love for our players, love for competition, love for the world sport of soccer. This experience was nothing like the coaching courses that I teach back home. Sure we shared your basic soccer activities for kids, but real social issues were discussed, and more importantly people shared their love and passion for the game and made friendships and connections that hopefully they will carry with them forever. I feel fully confident that each participant will apply something that they learned from this week and utilize it in their own environment. I will take home new friendships, a new dance or two, a couple words of Shona, and a much deeper appreciation for the world through love for the beautiful game.
We’re Not In Germany Anymore
CAC volunteer Ramón Voß talks about his experiences in Kabwe, Zambia with Intersport Youth Development.
July 20th 2015. On Sunday night I finally arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe after 25 hours of travelling all the way from Germany. I did not really have any time to adjust or prepare myself for what was coming because after reaching the accommodation I immediately fell into bed and only 10 hours later I was standing on the pitch with my two colleagues. My first week in Harare passed by like a wonderful dream.
On Saturday morning we packed our belongings and made our way to the central bus station to get on a bus to Zambia. Even though the trip from Zimbabwe‘s capital to Lusaka, Zambia took more than 10 hours, seeing and experiencing the beautiful landscape we passed compensated for an exhausting bus ride. After spending one night in Lusaka we took another minibus which brought us to our final destination for the upcoming week – Kabwe.
Just seconds after the minibus dropped us off the program director of Intersport Youth Development – our partner in Kabwe – greeted us with open arms and without wasting any second planned and structured the upcoming week with us over dinner.
The next day we started our work on the pitch. We had around 25 coaches attending our coaching sessions. As the week before in Harare, we started the day with a game called Circle of Friends. The purpose of the game is to get to know each other. We would make the start and perform an individual warm-up exercise inside the circle and when approaching the outside of the cirlce we would high five one of the participants and yell our name out load, and in exchange they would do the same. The reason why we would yell our names is, so everyone in the circle would be able to hear our names and the second reason is to encourage the particpants to use their voice. This method seems to be vital and key in terms of creating positive social impact in communities CAC works in. Every member of every community, regardless of their age, gender, class, sexual orientation, physical ability should be allowed to have a voice. A voice to express their wishes, needs, emotions, dreams, fears.
On Wednesday afternoon we visited two of our participants and observed them coaching. Dismus Pokuma and Patrick Mbao are in their early twenties and already took up the responsibility of coaching more than 50 boys and girls in their community in Kabwe. They started off their training session with Circle of Friends. The kids seemed to enjoy the game because they were allowed to yell – yell out their names, their favourite football teams and football players – without any authority telling them to be quiet or go somewhere else. Since the group of children Dismus and Patrick were coaching was very large, they divided the kids into two groups to proceed with different social impact games we taught them over the course of the past three days.
One of those games was Ronaldo for Conflict. It is a game that teachers players to solve their own conflicts and work in a team. Players have to run with a ball at their feet through a course of cones without touching the cones. In case a player would touch a cone with the ball, he or she would have to start all over again. The underlying message of this game is that making a mistake and cheating might look the same from the outside, but a mistake is being made without knowing that it is not within the rules, but cheating on the other hand is deliberately bending or ignoring the rules. Here in Kabwe all participants were honest, humble and encouraged everyone, even when one of their teammates had to start all over again.
Before and after almost every game we coach we gather the participants and ask them if they can see the reason why we play that game and what messages and social impact it conveys. In my opinion and after being part of CAC for just two weeks, the most impressive games we teach coaches in participating communities are games about Child Rights and Gender Equality. When being asked beforehand if women or children should have the same rights as men, maybe 1/4th of the participants agree with the statement, but after playing the games and discussing the reasons for the game, almost everyone can understand why women and kids should not be treated differently than men and that a community is only as strong as their weakest link. By including every single member of the community, sharing knowledge, helping others in need, encouraging kids and women to be take part in the game of life, the community and eventually society grows stronger.
Even if the group of coaches we are impacting is small, do not forget that those coaches will go back to their community and influence the next generation. Patrick and Dismas alone influence more than 50 kids with our social impact game, and this effect will trickle down to even more people. Social change will take time, but when we start now, we will see the fruits of our work very soon.
Eliminating Problems Within Communities
CAC Community Impact Coach Frank Chivawura talks about his experience with CAC and the Sports and Recreation Commission in Harare, Zimbabwe.
July 12th 2015. It’s so amazing how sport can be used as tool to reach out to the inner most being. I noticed people building so much confidence in themselves, as coaches aired out their views and comments during our discussions after a game.
I believe each and every one of us is affected one way or the other by the things that happen in our lives and communities. With CAC games I realized that it’s only a matter of time that the problems within communities will be eliminated. People will get to know more about their rights and will have ways to solve problems without having to engage in violence.
It was truly a wonderful week despite the cold temperatures. I worked with CAC coach Turner Humphries and volunteers Charlie and Ramon. They were a delight to work with. It was a very educational and humbling experience to be one of the few CAC Community Impact Coaches. I felt so happy and honoured to have been there helping other coaches, teachers and members of the community realize that football can be used for social impact.
The program was held at Queen Elizabeth and about fifty five participants attended. I was privileged to have been part of the C.I.C. (Community Impact Coaches) which trained our own Zimbabwe Women’s National Team coach Rosemary Mugadza and some former Zimbabwe Women’s National Team players.
There was a wide variety of games that taught of different types of violence and abuses against women and children. The days were packed with action and excitement, from morning to late afternoon. There were games like Can Adebayor see HIV, Stamford Bridge tag, Pick Up and Get Clean, which was my favorite game. Most of the games focused on health and wellness, child rights and women empowerment. The games taught solving problems without violence which I noticed was so much helpful to the coaches as they came to realize that so many ways can be used to resolve conflicts without having to use violent ways.
Our program ended with the presentation of certificates. I enjoyed the whole experience. It taught me that despite our differences in races and backgrounds, we can still work together for a common goal.
Many thanks go to the Sports and Recreation Commission and Coaches Across Continents for making this program a resounding success. And I look forward to be part of another exciting CAC program.
You have no idea how many lives CAC has changed, keep up the good work.