• How Can An Empty Beer Glass Stimulate Self-Directed Learning?

    CAC’s Markus Bensch blogs from Tarrafal, Cape Verde on our partnership with Delta Cultura.

    October 28th 2015. Can you imagine how an empty beer glass, a penny and a beer-mat can be related to Self-Directed Learning? Hopefully you will understand after reading this blog.

    It is Saturday night and Frederick and I are sitting in “Burg Pappenheim”, a Bavarian restaurant in Munich. We just returned from our program in Cape Verde and now we are celebrating Bayern Munich’s 4-0 victory against Cologne in the German Bundesliga that we witnessed in the Allianz Arena earlier that day. After many months I was craving some Bavarian food and Frederick, who is a local, took me out to this place. We finished our delicious meal and I am sipping my “winning beer”. As I look across at the table next to us I witness a boy offering a challenge to his friend: on top of an empty beer glass he places a beer-mat and a small coin. He asks the girl if she can get the coin into the glass without touching it. The girl simply takes the beer-mat, tilts it slightly sideways and the coin slides into the glass. She looks happy. The boy is astonished, but after a second he realizes what happened and says: “No, no, no! I didn’t mean like that. That is too easy. You should also not touch the beer-mat!” In the following minutes the two children try to find ways to get the coin into the empty beer glass without touching the coin nor the beer-mat. The whole situation makes me smile. To see these two kids makes me even happier than Bayern’s victory against Cologne.

    Change of location and scenery: just a few days before we are on Delta Cultura’s Football for Hope Center pitch and the coaches are separated into two groups. They are given tasks and they compete with each other to finish them as quickly as possible. First I asked them to keep the ball in the air and everybody has to touch the ball at least once. Both groups start to juggle and pass the ball to each other with their feet. It is very difficult for them to complete the task. Finally they succeed. When I asked them why they didn’t use their hands they said: “We thought we have to use our feet.”

    Is there any connection between these two incidences? I could say that the girl in the restaurant has simply better listening skills than the coaches from the program in Cape Verde. But I think it goes deeper and the situation in the restaurant made me again realize why I love the work I do and why it is important. I want to encourage people to question and challenge tradition, religion and culture. I don’t want them to just assume what might be expected from them. The boy and the girl in the restaurant were facing a problem and then tried to find solutions to it. The adults that were around them didn’t tell them how they have to do it or what the best solution is. I think this is the biggest difference between these two kids and the people in Cape Verde and many other places in the world. I want to encourage those people who live in places with a culture of authoritarian control to find creative solutions to their problems instead of repeatedly trying to make solutions work that they have been told to use. My work is challenging, but often also very rewarding. The coaches in Cape Verde are on the right track as they have been very creative while developing their own games during the partnership. Their games address important social issues in their community such as robbery, social inclusion and female empowerment. As it was the third year of our Hat-Trick Initiative with Delta Cultura the coaches are now able to create and develop their own curriculum which will positively impact the next generation of children.

    Who knows in 20 years I might go back to Tarrafal and while I am sitting in a bar and sipping my beer two children might be sitting at the table next to me and will use an empty beer glass, a coin and a beer-mat to develop their own little challenge.

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  • No Ordinary Days in Cape Verde

    CAC returning volunteer Frederick Schwarzmaier talks about year 3 of our partnership with Delta Cultura in Cape Verde. 

    October 21st 2015. Imagine yourself after a day of work floating on the pleasantly tempered sea. Above you, the sun is setting in a picture-perfect orange sky and from the corner of your eye you see green rolling hills and a quiet beach with several palm trees. It’s a privilege reserved for very few people. However, in Tarrafal, Markus and I were fortunate enough to call it an ordinary day.

    Unlike other programs, in Tarrafal we found an artificial turf with floodlights on top of a hill surrounded by mountains and the sea. This is one of 20 artificial pitches built across Africa by the FIFA Football for Hope Initiative associated with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In this case Delta Cultura was the beneficiary. Delta Cultura, our local partner which we visited for the third time in our Hat-Trick initiative, is a local organization which runs an education center for primary and secondary school pupils in Tarrafal. Its founder, Florian, and one of its tutors, Gilson, helped us around the clock to quickly immerse ourselves into the new surroundings. With the many pupils at the site, we had enough participants to conduct any game.

    Great signs that promised a successful two weeks with the local coaches. But would the local coaches follow through on this promise?

    In our first session in the classroom we chatted about the participants` diverse achievements over the past year and the program’s outlook. It was great to hear that participants implemented certain games from last year in their communities or schools. Some participants even invented new games for International Women’s Day and Children’s Day. Beyond that, one participating teacher had organized a one-week activity at his football school where he addressed school drop-out and teenage pregnancy through Football for Social Impact. These stories were like music to our ears and strongly motivated us to practice on-field with the coaches. As with many of our programs, the issue of tardiness would accompany us during the week. Apart from the tardiness issue, we had found a perfect setting for the program.

    Nonetheless, the area that needed improving the most was having purposeful and efficient discussions. This became apparent during a game of “95% Football” – a game that combines elements of tag with those of football. It was just after I passed the goal line seemingly scoring when the other team started protesting – “A second ball was in play.” A tight group of ranting and flailing players from both teams had formed, The participants embarked on wild discussions without any valuable outcome. We stepped in to provide structure within the discussion. In order to find a solution, the teams decided to designate a captain who would try to find a solution together. A word and a blow – GOAL! The members of the team that had now conceded the goal were noticeably unhappy with the result, again loudly arguing and flailing. Reminding them that we had agreed that only the captains have the final call the turmoil quickly settled. Once more, they nominated a (new) captain to discuss the case with the opposing captain in order to agree on a solution in their favor. Despite the change, the captain of the team I was in must have had some good points because even the newly nominated captain consented – GOAL! Finally, everyone acknowledged the decision and we continued to play with the next dispute just around the corner. Eventually the participants had found a way to solve their problem peacefully.

    Next week we will increasingly focus on game development with the coaches. With a little bit of guidance, we are confident that many new and fun games will be created. For now, all signs point to a successful second week here in Tarrafal.

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  • CAC at Beyond Sport Awards in London

    October 19, 2015.  Coaches Across Continents founder Nick Gates is attending the Beyond Sport Summit & Awards 2015 in London, England.  The event is from October 19-21, 2015, and includes a presentation by Nick on curriculum during the Beyond Rugby portion of the summit.

    Coaches Across Continents has been shortlisted for the first annual UNICEF Safeguarding Children in Sport Award.  Winners will be announced on October 20, 2015.  CAC has previously been awarded the Beyond Sport Award for ‘Best New Project’ for our Hat-Trick Initiative in 2009 and for ‘Corporate of the Year‘ in 2014 for our partnership with Chevrolet.  CAC would be the only third-time winner of these prestigious awards.

    Every CAC educator in all of our community training’s participate in an extensive Child Protection and Child Rights course. This includes agreeing to protect every child in their care from emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse and learning how to educate children about their rights through a Child Rights sport for social impact curriculum based on the UN Rights of the Child. In 2014 and 2015 this course has educated 6,325 local coaches, teachers and community leaders who work with 514,603 youth in 30 countries.

    Each year the Beyond Sport summit distinguishes itself as the preeminent conference for sport for social development demonstrating the power of sport to do good. The summit brings together some of the biggest names in professional sport, sport for development, sports media and business. In 2015 some of the nominees include The Big Issue for Australia, the Miami Heat, the England and Wales Cricket Board, SV Werder Bremen, BT Sport and New Balance. Our community partners CREATA (Kenya), HODI (Kenya) and Fundlife International (Philippines) are also nominated. We wish all of our partners the best of luck and want to thank Beyond Sport once again for the honor of being shortlisted in 2015.

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  • CAC Announces its Commitment to Bring Gender Policies to Life Through Sport

    October 8th 2015. Coaches Across Continents (CAC) announced its Commitment to Action at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting held in New York, 26th-29th September. In partnership with Hogan Lovells, CAC will expand its recently piloted female empowerment curriculum into a new community intervention, ‘ASK for Choice’, which will use sport for social impact to bring gender policies to life.

    ‘ASK for Choice’ will enhance personal and community responsibility and produce locally owned and relevant gender equity initiatives. CAC’s strategic year-round mentorship on curriculum and policy development will bring gender policies to life throughout communities by generating pathways to advance women’s and girls’ participation, leadership and rights in and through sport.

    “While there are many policies and campaigns regarding women in sport, Coaches Across Continents has identified that these policies are not effective and have little impact at the community level,” says CAC’s founder, Nick Gates. “This is the optimal time to launch ASK for Choice because the FIFA Women’s World Cup captured the world’s attention and we can harness this global visibility to activate the voices of and increase the opportunities for women and girls.”

    Women’s and girls’ rights are violated daily. Cultural norms and traditional stereotypes restrict their choices. Violence and harmful practices against them continue despite international treaties and protective legal documents. The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) has not yet been ratified by every country or globally implemented. Where laws exist, they are frequently not enforced or brought to life. Global conflict is exacerbating the situation as refugee women and girls are particularly vulnerable to violence, exploitation and denial of their human rights.

    Gender inequity in sport mirrors societal discrimination. Women and girls face multiple social and cultural barriers in sport, including gender stereotypes, restrictions on clothing and lack of safe spaces. In many communities, sports activities for girls are considered immoral or shameful and they risk violence for simply taking part. This creates huge obstacles to equal participation.

    ‘ASK for Choice’ will be implemented in 30 countries spanning five continents. 9,000 local leaders will be educated and certified and 1,000,000 children, including at least 250,000 girls, will play games from the ‘ASK for Choice’ curriculum. Through ‘ASK for Choice’, Coaches Across Continents will create an environment for the progression of Attitudes towards optimism and gender equity; the development of Skills for female leadership and participation; and the increase in Knowledge of rights and resources. This will lead to girls’ and women’s rights, educational, employment, entrepreneurial, financial, and health choices.

    For additional information please contact: .

    About Coaches Across Continents

    Coaches Across Continents is a global leader in the sport for social impact movement. Our award-winning corporate partnerships and ‘Hat-Trick Initiative’ consist of comprehensive, year-round organizational development and sport for social impact education that focuses on local issues such as: female empowerment, including gender equity; conflict resolution, including social inclusion; health and wellness, including HIV/AIDS behavior change; child rights; vital life skills; and fun.

    Our key to success is a unique Self-Directed Learning model that educates people to identify, address, and solve problems specific to their communities. We mentor organizations and empower communities to question harmful traditional, cultural, and religious practices; responsibly choose their own futures; and create sustainable change.

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    About the Clinton Global Initiative

    Established in 2005 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. CGI Annual Meetings have brought together 190 sitting and former heads of state, more than 20 Nobel Prize laureates, and hundreds of leading CEO’s, heads of foundations and NGOs, major philanthropists, and members of the media. To date, members of the CGI community have made more than 3,200 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries.

    In addition to the Annual Meeting, CGI convenes CGI America, a meeting focused on collaborative solutions to economic recovery in the United States; and CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world. This year, CGI also convened CGI Middle East & Africa, which brought together leaders across sectors to take action on pressing social, economic, and environmental challenges.

    For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative.

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  • Opening The Door Into Europe

    September 14th 2015. We recently started our first ever Hat-Trick Initiative partnership in Europe with The Door in Albania.

    Coaches Across Continents is an organization with a long and deep connection to Europe. The founder, Nick Gates, is from the UK. We are a registered non-profit in the UK as well as the US. Over the course of eight years we have had staff and volunteers from across Europe and our current staff are citizens of places such as Belgium, Germany and the UK. We have developed many partnerships with other European organizations such as Peace One Day and streetfootballworld and regularly speak at and attend European conferences like Beyond Sport in London, Peace and Sport in Monaco and Trust Women in London.

    Despite this, we have never partnered with another European organization to implement our three year Hat-Trick Initiative. Until this year. We were delighted to accept The Door, from Albania, following their application as part of our Peace Day competition earlier this year.

    The Door is an organization based in picturesque Shkoder in Northern Albania. They have an extensive soccer academy including a girls team (one of the few in Albania). They also run a social integration program with local children and facilitate sessions every year to coincide with Peace Day on September 21st. In this part of Europe there are many tightly packed countries. Decades of conflict has forced great crossover between the many nationalities, religions and social groups which co-exist in the region. Organizations such as The Door, which promote integration and inclusion are integral to the ongoing peace in Shkoder, Albania, and the surrounding countries.

    We began our first On-Field week with The Door in unusual circumstances. We met the participants for the week at The Door’s eco-social farm which, despite still being in development, was home to many farm animals and a playground where children who are in need of a safe space visit. It was clear from the first day that our participants would not disappoint. They were all keen to learn more about how children can be taught through sport. This led to an impactful week during which these local coaches demonstrated not only their coaching ability but also their willingness to protect the rights of children and to improve their community. We observed passionate opinions on the problems in their community and the importance of sport, music and art in addressing these issues.

    The Door will be running a Play for Peace tournament in Shkoder to celebrate Peace Day this year. We made sure to teach a number of CAC’s Peace Day games which can be used to educate children taking part in the tournament about the issues of stereotyping, violence and discrimination. At the end of the week the participants showed great ability and passion as they coached some of the games we had shown them. It was our pleasure to initiate this partnership between CAC, Peace One Day and The Door. Having opened the door to Europe through Shkoder, Albania who knows where we could end up!

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  • A Vision for Local Sustainability

    August 14th 2015. Léogâne to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Nairobi to Marsabit, Kenya. Tacloban to Baybay, Philippines. Nyanza to Kigali, Rwanda. Tanzania to Uganda. Uganda to Kenya. Cambodia to Philippines.

    These are some of the movements of our Community Impact Coaches (CICs) so far in 2015. We have had 16 CICs from 9 countries, directly impacting 28 CAC programs, and consequently nearly 100,000 children.

    The locations and numbers are compelling, but the stories behind those facts and figures are far more inspiring.

    So who are these CICs? How have they enhanced our work? And what have they brought back home to their communities?

    The CIC program pulls in the best of the best from our implementing partners. These are the coaches who have demonstrated their commitment to using sport for social impact at home with their local organizations, On-Field during past CAC trainings, and in year-round communication with CAC staff. These coaches, once selected as CICs, are part of On-Field teams for 1-3 weeks in various locations in their country or internationally. They assist us with the training of other leaders while learning more from our SDL Coaches, and soaking in everything they believe will empower them back home.

    We kicked off the year with a CIC exchange of sorts. Our 3rd-year partners, GOALS Haiti in Léogâne sent two coaches to work with our team in Port-au-Prince with 2nd-year partners The Sanneh Foundation’s Haitian Initiative (HI). The following week two coaches left the city to join our staff for the third year of the On-Field component to our partnership with GOALS. These two weeks are a great representation of what the CIC program is all about. The GOALS coaches were essential in helping us train 173 leaders in Cité Soleil. The HI coaches visited Léogâne and were able to see how far along a third-year partner is, while learning from them and being challenged to advance beyond the work we had done in their community.

    2015 also saw the return of our first-ever CIC, Nico Pota, who traveled from his home in Tanzania to help us run three programs in UgandaWhile in Uganda, Nico met the second-longest serving CIC, Salim Blanden. Soon after the Uganda programs, Salim traveled to meet our team in Kenya where he helped us train two sets of leaders. After his final week with us, one of the participants had some encouraging words to say about the CIC program: “It is very good for us participants to learn about other cultures and it can help to improve the life of the people in the community. It also encourages members of our community to try to achieve that as well, because when you have been in another community you come home with new ideas. To see Salim also encourages me to do my work and help to improve my own community in Rapogi.” – Michael Ouma, Migori County, Kenya.

    In early May we had some fiercely empowered Filipino women join us for our first time working in Baybay, Philippines after our second year with partners Football for Life in Tacloban. Hazel and Patty were running the show with a group of physical education teachers, and we hope to get one or both of them assisting us internationally in the near future.

    One of our Zimbabwe partners has finished the Hat-Trick Initiative, and after the third year several of the coaches applied to the CIC program. Of these candidates, Frank Chivawura was selected and joined CAC On-Field near his home in Harare with a first-year partner, helping us introduce our methodology to the new participants.

    One of the most incredible stories from our CICs takes us back to Kenya. David Mulo and Charles Otieno have been CICs with us for two years, helping us train leaders in various parts of their country. These inspired leaders work with long-time partners Vijana Amani Pamoja in Nairobi, and since joining us as CICs, they’ve wanted to do more. They started their own NGO called Green Kenya where they use CAC games to teach youth about all sorts of social issues, i.e.: “teaching participants how to conserve the environment using CAC environment games.” Another such issue is the empowerment of women. We have just been informed by David that they recently launched their new Girl Up initiative where, among other things, they are having men go out and buy sanitary towels to better understand and support women. David was part of our training in Marsabit, Kenya with Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI) – a program that needs little introduction when it comes to empowering women and girls.

    An excerpt from David’s blog sums it up beautifully. After witnessing the gap between men and women in Marsabit and learning of certain human rights violations, David writes:

    I decided that I want to do something for the girls when I get back to Nairobi… I will assemble the girls in my community and let them talk about the issues that they are facing and how they think we can tackle them. I want to let them have a voice to be heard. This idea would not have grown in my head if I did not get the chance to be a Community Impact coach (CIC).

    And now Girl Up is born.

    This is just one example – albeit amazing – of the work that our CICs are doing with us, and more importantly, without us. As David and many others have taken the time to thank CAC for the opportunities we present to them – I’d like to take this moment to thank our Community Impact Coaches across the world: Thank you for taking advantage of this opportunity and owning it; thank you for being exactly who you are and allowing it to inspire so many people; and thank you for not being afraid of the unknown.

    With a packed program schedule for the remainder of 2015, we cannot wait to unleash more CICs onto our partners. And moreover, we cannot wait to unlock more of these stories that are waiting to be lived by people who continue to dream despite overwhelming obstacles.

    To find out how you can support the Community Impact Coach program please go to this page or contact us.

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