• Diversity Enhances Growth

    September 30th 2016. CAC recently ran a short program in Durban, South Africa with two local organizations.

    South Africa is a diverse country, starting from the landscape and its vegetation to the people and their different cultures and languages up to the various social issues that people face in their respective living environment. Since I have lived and volunteered in Durban between 2012 and 2014 I have been coming back to stay in touch with people that I have met during that time. After working with CAC for 2.5 years I was very lucky to get linked up recently with two organizations called iThemba Lethu (which is isiZulu and means “I have a destiny”) and The Domino Foundation who were excited to run a short 2-day program with us.

    Whenever I run a CAC program I am always amazed by the diversity of the group. Each group contains different characters: you have the funny person that is joking and making silly comments, other participants are listening carefully and engaging in discussions, others engage with the games, but rather keep quiet during the discussion and others don’t say much, but I can see in their face that they are taking in everything that is going on and that has been said. These are just a few examples of the many different characters that make up these wonderful groups that I am privileged to work with. We all learn differently and therefore it is so important to allow everyone to engage with the content in its own way. I love diversity and so I was very happy to welcome 16 individuals who were eager to learn about Sport for Social Impact. And they confirmed my past experience by engaging with the content of the program in their own individual way. They were very experienced facilitators who already work with children and youth to educate them on Life Skills, HIV/AIDS prevention, nutrition, entrepreneurship and much more.

    During the 2‑day program we explored many different topics that can be addressed through sport: Skills for Life, Health & Wellness, HIV/AIDS Prevention, Female Empowerment and more. The game that was most popular was “95% Football”; a game that created a lot of conflict which then led to discussions and negotiations amongst the participants. The rules of the game are pretty simple. The player with his/her hand on the head possesses the ball. The opposing team can gain the ball by tagging the person that has the ball. A team scores when a player runs with his/her hand on the head into the goal. Each team needs to come up with a strategy on how they want to pass the ball to each other. The group loved this game. As we played the game we faced different challenges: Sometimes the teams were confused, because nobody knew where the ball was or there were multiple balls in the game; another time somebody cheated which caused protest from the opposing team; then somebody didn’t pay attention when he/she was called by a teammate to receive the ball; sometimes players lost the ball, because they didn’t pass quickly enough which then tested the loyalty of their teammates. Despite these challenges and conflicts everybody was smiling while playing and everybody was excited when he/she had the ball running forward trying to score.

    When the participants came back on the 2nd day they asked if we can play the same game again, but because I love diversity I decided to show them more games from our curriculum instead of repeating a game from the first day. The introduction into Sport for Social Impact was successful and CAC looks forward to developing a long-term partnership with iThemba Lethu and The Domino Foundation.

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  • Back in Biak

    September 6th 2016. Alicia Calcagni writes from Biak, Indonesia about the unique island and our work with Uni Papua.

    Biak is an authentic island that does not possess the familiar qualities of any other island I have visited. Now of course not one island is the same, but they can tend to have a similar feel. However, Biak holds an unadulterated and fascinating vibe that radiates from east to west. For example, on our last day the Uni Papua team took us to a beach and cliff area. We step out of the car to wooden hangout huts with tin roofs along the ledge of the beach. One of them was used as a dance floor for the karaoke machine, which not only contained classic Indonesian songs, but the classic American ones as well. Mark and I may have preformed one of the best duets of “I Will Always Love You” Indonesia has ever seen. We unloaded pots filled with rice, vegetables, potatoes, and a big black bag of fresh raw fish from the car. Our hosts set up a small burner and used coconut shell debris as wood to start the fire. After Uni Papua refused Mark and I’s help with dinner preparation, we walked off to the cliffs. From far away it looked like a cluster of bodies peering over the edge contemplating whether or not to jump in. Instead, people of all ages were balancing in a deep squat; their backs were as straight as a line drawn with a ruler. Putting all of their faith in the friction created by their flip flops, they pressed their heels into the slippery rock stopping themselves from sliding straight into the Pacific. In other words, they were fishing. Except, only one kid had a fishing rod. The rest of them wrapped the fishing line around their hand or used a water bottle as the rod. The pure joy on everyone’s face was beautiful. Life is simple. Man made stone couches were ingrained on the side of the cliff. It was the ideal spot to watch and partake in the warm Saturday evening activity. One of the 10 year old boys who participated in our program earlier in the week came over to me with a half living, flopping fish. If I wasn’t disturbed by this enough, he started picking out the guts of the small animal with his bare fingers. Yeah, I had to look away too. We are not able to communicate, so after a few minutes of this procedure he just ran away. I looked over my shoulder searching for him and I spotted smoke rising from a grass patch on the flat of the cliff. As I was walking, I tried to convince myself that he was not cooking that small baby fish right here, right now. Sure enough, I found him carefully roasting his prize in an open fire built from bamboo, coconut, and bark. Amazing. Never experiencing something like this before I could not stop laughing. I had to try a piece now. So, there we squatted enjoying our fresh snack, and the view.

    Before this invaluable experience, Uni Papua took us to a high school on the island. When we got there we were introduced to a few of the teachers and the headmaster. The headmaster wanted us to play a few games with the students. It was awesome. We all walked down the road to a small field. After our introduction we started the session with Old Trafford Tag. Which is a normal tag game, but whoever gets tagged needs to join hands with the tagger, which will eventually form one long line. The game is over when there is only one person left. The students loved this game. They were laughing and smiling simultaneously problem solving and developing leadership skills. We followed with three more CAC games: Adebayor Hands Against HIV, Adebayor Uses a Condom tag, and Head/Catch. The students and the headmaster said they had so much fun. When we went back to the school for a meeting with the headmaster he told us that every Sunday is game day for the kids, and the games we taught them were going to be added to the list. All we had was one hour and a half and now the 4 games we played will be repeated every Sunday. We caught a glimpse of the benefits of using sport for social change.

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  • Jenny From the Block Tackles South Africa

    July 25th. Volunteer Jenifer Anzivino writes about experiencing CAC and South Africa for the first time with Red Cross in Limpopo.

    There are two type of people in this world, the dreamers and doers. I grew up playing soccer my entire life and traveling all over the US. Once I was done with playing I knew I wanted to stay involved in the game so I started coaching. Personally, I am not one to just make rash decisions but once I heard about CAC I immediately thought this was an amazing opportunity to do the two things I love – coach and teach with a bonus of being able to travel. Without sitting there and analyzing the opportunity I immediately reached out to get involved. A few weeks later I got my destination, South Africa.

    July 8th I arrived at a hostel to meet up with the coaches I would be working with for the next 3 weeks. They had just arrived after spending 3 weeks in Cameroon. Within 24 hours of meeting Charlie and Leah I knew the week was going to be one to remember after getting a nice “love tap” on my forward for being the last one to put my thumb to my forehead after a burp (to be honest, I still lose at the game every time so I end up slapping my own forehead).

    That first night we met up with the Red Cross in Limpopo to have dinner and discuss the week ahead. The people from the Red Cross could not be any more welcoming and grateful for CAC returning for the third year. There were a ton of laughs that night getting to know everyone.

    From that dinner the laughs never really stopped On and Off the field. We had such an amazing, exciting, appreciative group of coaches to work with. The age of the coaches was a huge range but each could not be more eager to learn and become great coaches and role models in their community that faced a large number of challenges. We also got the opportunity to play against some of the staff from the Red Cross which was amazing. As the sun went down we stayed and played 5v5 (CAC WON), even though the next day the three of us struggled to walk from being so sore! As the week wound down and the realization hit that we would be leaving these amazing people, our last day was honestly an emotional one. One of the female coaches could not contain her emotions that the program was over, a contagious feeling. At that moment it truly clicked that all our work, games, laughs, and educational messages were genuinely valued. I can not thank our participants and the Red Cross in Limpopo for making my first trip with CAC one I will never forget in South Africa.
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  • Part 3 of the Brand New CAC Documentary

    March 17th 2015. CAC is pleased to present part 3 of our new 2015 documentary. We have 5 films which are being released in 5 parts before the full feature video is released. The documentary was filmed in Cambodia in August 2014 with our inspirational partners there, IndoChina Starfish Foundation (ISF), by CAC’s resident videographer Kevin O’Donovan. Kevin does an incredible job of bringing CAC’s work to life every year and this film is no different.

    In the third installment below, we focus on our Soccer For Health and Wellness module including HIV/AIDS behavior change. Some of the cultures in which we work have some of the highest rates of HIV in the world while others do not have the structures in place to educate children about nutrition, exercise and keeping their bodies healthy. This installment also contains a moving story from ISF’s Chairman of the Football Committee, Leo Brogan, about the situation a child in their program faced.

    Watch the new video below today and stay tuned for the next installment very soon!

    In case you missed it, here is part 2 focused on our soccer for female empowerment module:

    And part 1 focused on our Self-Directed Learning model:

  • The Real Stellenbosch: CAC Hits the Futsal Court with t4c

    October 4th, 2014. Cape Town, South Africa, famous for its mountains, beaches and beauty, neighbors some of the best and most stunning wine farms in the world in the very location of our latest program. This training took CAC Senior Staff member, Nora Dooley, to the mountainous farmlands of Stellenbosch – a tourism hotspot, a world-renowned wine oasis that is, like most vacation destinations, so often only seen and heard about through that narrow lens. Having been to the region as a tourist herself while living in South Africa, Nora was eager to learn more about the area, beyond the bubble that shields tourists from life’s difficult realities.

    Our partner in Stellenbosch, training4changeS (t4c), is a young organization that has chosen futsal as their game of choice. They are tapping into a world of opportunity in South African youth development and have lured in the National Futsal Coach – Quinton Allies – as a member of the staff. The training was a last minute addition to our 2014 schedule so the group was mostly t4c staff with a few participants from local partner organizations in t4c’s expanding network.

    We trained the 16 coaches in games from our year one curriculum and were able to push them in all aspects of our work – football (futsal) technique, fitness, and knowledge of the game, and most importantly social impact – how we coach sport to achieve a greater end of youth and community empowerment. This group was small, but each one of them proved day in and day out how committed they are to learning from CAC and putting what they learn into practice in their lives and in their sessions with children.

    On top of our core modules we taught the coaches all 5 of our Peace Day games since the training began the day after September 21st, as well as games from our Female Empowerment, HIV, Child Rights, and Financial Literacy curricula. One of the games that had a particularly resounding impact was our “Peace Day: Understanding Stereotypes and Challenging Them” game which, as per the title, addresses the problem of stereotypes and what we can do to solve that problem. Before we began the game we had a conversation about what stereotyping someone means and what are some examples of stereotypes in their community. We talked about people with dreadlocks (one of the participant had dreads), stereotypes pertaining to religions – particularly Muslims, as well as skin color – a huge issue in the Stellenbosch area and the country as a whole. The group itself was made up of people from different backgrounds and cultures, and we made sure to create a safe space for us all to discuss these serious issues. Then we played the game.

    The futsal court was divided into three zones – in a regular futsal game it would be for defense, midfield, and strikers but in this game the zones represented different stereotypes and we used three of the examples that we already discussed – physical characteristics (like dreads), religious affiliation, and skin color (a physical characteristic but so serious that it demands its own zone). For the first round players on each team must stay in the zone they are placed in and cannot leave. The teams go to goal. Then we play again where one team has the freedom to move anywhere and the other team is still confined to their zone. Then the third time – everybody is free to move.

    After the game we discussed more in depth about how it felt to be restricted to a zone in the game and how it limits your team, how it is a disadvantage when the other team is unrestricted. Then we related the game to the context of life and the participants discussed how imprisoning people in a box in your mind limits their ability to ever be anything else in your eyes, and closes your mind to the possibility of understanding and acceptance. If we get rid of the zones, if we get rid of the stereotypes, we are all free to play and make our own choices; we will score more goals and work better as a team, as a community, as a nation and a world.

    This is just one example of the amazing games and discussions that occurred throughout the week with these participants. They were wonderful people to work with and we could not have asked for a more open-minded, energetic, thoughtful, and talented group of young South Africans. After a few days Coach Quinton praised our methods saying, “It’s amazing how you use the ball as the connecting point.” We very much appreciate having such an established coach understand the importance of our methods. South Africa is one of the most difficult countries for us to work in because of various aspects of the culture and history – but groups like t4c break the stereotype and make our job incredibly enjoyable and rewarding. We look forward to a prolific partnership with training4changeS and the Stellenbosch community, the beautiful community beyond the wine lands.

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    Quinton Allies showing off his Skills for Life

  • Female Role Models in Sentani

    September 11, 2014.  Sometimes change is hard to see.  We are working for the second year with Uni Papua in Sentani, near the city of Jayapura.  In the past year Uni Papua has grown to four communities surrounding this beautiful tropical lake.  These are communities who have a strong desire to use sport for social impact, who recognize the power of football for social change instead of trying to create top-level footballers.  These are also communities where it is common to take a boat to get to school and where the million plus inhabitant city of Jayapura seems decades away instead of just 50 short kilometers.  It is hard to believe that this vast country of Indonesia can have so many different geographical differences, as well as differences within its population, each coming from distinct tribes and unique islands.

    While it might be easy to focus on some of the social issues that exist in Papua including high HIV rates and tribal conflict, that means you may be missing some of the other positive changes that have occurred since CAC was here last year.

    The most impactful game of the week was Marta for Gender Equity, a scrimmage game with a strong message that has certain coaches sitting out for extended stretches of time.  These substitutes learn what it feels like to be forcibly left-out, simulating the feelings of young girls who are not permitted or encouraged to play.  By the end of the game, the coaches who were not permitted to play were visibly affected, and this lesson can help change their perspective on the right for everyone to play sport, regardless of gender or ability.

    On our final day of coaching, Touska Iba came up to us and said how proud she was that more women attended our trainings this year.   Last year, she was the only female coach (out of 26) and this year there were eight women coaches (out of 54).  Although far from a 50/50 split, it a real progress, from 3.8% up to 14.8%.  This progress demonstratively shows young boys and girls that equality should exist and that equitability is getting better.  We need more positive male and female role models to continue to make real efforts to ensure that gender equity is more than just a statement, and that it becomes a reality.  Hopefully within their lifetime, with the efforts of people like Touska, it will not be strange to see even numbers of boys and girls playing for coaches of either gender.

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