• The Beauty of Sindhupalchok

    December 16th 2016. Dylan Pritchard blogs from Sindhupalchok, Nepal where we work with Childreach Nepal.

    In my last week with Coaches Across Continents, Mark, Tejas, and I were with Prateek and Shamsher of Childreach Nepal along with Pema who is a leader on the Michael Johnson Young Leader course in Manekharka, Sindapalchuk. Manekharka is a small village that is only five hundred meters long in the foothills of the Himalayan Mountain Range. It took us three different jeeps to get us there from Kathmandu in six hours. For only about thirty minutes of that six-hour drive were we on paved roads. The rest of the time we were driving up and down mountains on rocky dirt roads. It was a rough ride to get there but once we got there it was absolutely worth it. The beauty of the place stunned Mark, Tejas, and me. Manekharka is at the top of a foothill so you can look down and see a beautiful valley filled with terrace style farming. When you look up you can see some more beautiful foothills and can even see some peaks of the Himalayas. On the first morning Mark and I decided to hike to the top of the mountain we were on so we could get a better look at the peaks of the Himalayas. It was super tiring but we made it and snapped some awesome photos before we realized that we could possibly be late to our first training session. We booked it down the trail and ended up about half a mile away from the tin house we were staying at with only ten minutes to spare! We had to get some directions from some little girls, jump down some farming terraces, and jog but we made it because all the coaches and players came an hour late. So we had breakfast, got dressed, and made the five-minute walk to the training field.

    The setting for the field was stunning. It was not a very nice pitch but it was nestled on a terrace in the mountain and was surrounded by houses and animals with the Himalayas in the background. Only pictures can do any of the views I am talking about justice. This week’s program was set up the same way as last week in Bhaktapur except the players were older. It was an awesome week and I finally felt that I actually made a difference with my coaching. I worked on all of the points I have received from the coaches I have encountered on this trip and it culminated with this week. This week I taught all of the skill games that are modeled after famous football players. The way these games work is you do three different skills over the course of the drill and while you do the skill you must say what skill that is, such as “Ronaldo 1!” The drill works on soccer skills but it encourages the player to become more comfortable with their voice. Later on they then have the chance to choose what skill they want to do which reinforces the Self-Directed Learning part of CAC because they now make the decision on what skill to do instead of the coaches. What made me happy was that in the player’s spare time in between drills and during water breaks they were doing the skills and saying the skill aloud like I coached them. This is a reflection of their eagerness to learn and play football but it made me giddy inside knowing that I aided in the process of sustaining CAC curriculum past the time I leave. This was the first instant I felt the affect of coaching and it will definitely not be my last. During this past five weeks it has helped me realize that football must always be part of my life and coaching would be a great way to do that whether it be part time or full time.

    I have had an awesome time this past five weeks learning about football for social impact and I would like to take this time to thank Coaches Across Continents for giving me this opportunity. They say on their website that you will not understand what football for social impact is until you go on a trip and I cannot agree more. The experience I have had learning about different cultures through soccer has been one of the best of my life so far. I owe a special thank you to Mark for putting up with me for five weeks but also teaching me so much about coaching, being a leader, life, and myself. The concepts I have learned from you on this trip will serve me for the rest of my life. Thank you again Coaches Across Continents for this experience and hopefully I get a chance to work with you again in the future.


  • Coldest Showers, Warmest People.

    January 4th 2015.

    Nepal 2015 Earthquake Numbers:

    Number of people killed: 8,617

    Number of people injured: 16,808

    Number of people displaced: 2.8 million

    Number of people affected: 5.6 million

    Number of people in need of food assistance: More than 1 million

    Number of hospitals damaged: 26

    Number of houses destroyed: over 473,000

    Week two with the incredible Childreach program started on Sunday morning with a 60km drive to Manekaharka.  That doesn’t sound too far at all until you start and have to navigate tiny dirt roads with drops of more than a few hundred feet over the side (within an hour, the road was blocked to move a local bus that had crashed over the edge).  We were mightily relieved to arrive four and a half hours after we set off at the small village of less than 70 homes at the epicenter of the April earthquake. More than 75% of these houses were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake, as was the school.

    At more than 2000m, Manekaharka is in the mountains with breathtaking views on all sides of the Himalayas.  Prateek and Kuhmar, two of the most passionate and knowledgable Sport for Social Impact coaches, had a wonderful plan for the week that included 4 local schools, students and teachers.  Monday started with more than 40 shy young leaders and finished on Friday with more than 40 of the loudest, most confident young leaders who had seen how sport could impact their community on things like Child Rights, Female Empowerment and HIV Behavior change.

    The big successes of the week were games like Know Your Rights, Hope Solo for Conflict Prevention, and Hands v HIV.  And we did invent a new way to greet everyone, with the Namaste bow-High 5.

    The end of each day was the hardest part.  Who knew that Himalayan water could be so cold?  We’re not just talking cold water, we’re talking freeeeeeezing water!!  But the people of Manekaharka are the kindest, warmest, most welcoming people on earth.  We were taken to a Hindu Ceremony, we were overfed with local food and tea, we climbed a couple of mountains and we shared ideas on how the community can not just recover from the earthquake, but can change and grow.

    The leaders of this community, the teachers and everyone who work with the young people are giving them the opportunity to hear new ideas, to question religion, tradition and culture, and to choose a new pathway for the community.  While it was the coldest showers in the world, we worked for a week with the warmest people.

    What a great way to end my 2015 on the field.