World AIDS Day 2019
2019 marks the 11th year that Coaches Across Continents has worked towards honoring World AIDS Day. On December 1st, CAC partners around the globe made use of our unique AIDS Awareness Day curriculum packet to share knowledge and dive into some of the overwhelming nuance associated with this disease.
HIV remains one of the world’s most serious public health problems with ~38 million people currently infected. Despite dramatic steps forward with prevention and treatment technologies, a disproportionate number of people and communities in low and middle income countries continue to struggle with this disease and its ramifications.
More than 5,700 individuals and organizations in 114 countries were provided our World AIDS Day resource packet. With this packet, communities are encouraged to question the various stigmas, myths, facts and research behind the latest in HIV awareness.
Not About the Ball
August 21st, 2018. Community Impact Coach, Robelyn Villas, writes about the experience of working with Coaches Across Continents On-Field in the Philippines with CAC Community Partner, Gawad Kalinga, after the already exciting adventure of the FIFA Football for Hope Festival in Russia this Summer of 2018 in partnership with the World Cup!
To have another journey after becoming part of the Philippine delegation for Russia (FIFA Football For Hope Festival) was unanticipated until Coaches Across Continents selected me to be part of their training seminar, both as a participant and a facilitator.
It was on July 28 when my colleague Coach John Paul and I, Coach Robelyn Villas, joined CAC Coaches Charlie and volunteer coach, Patty, in Giussepe F.C. – Campo, Cebu to be one of their participants. It was a two-day affair and we immediately jumped into their football drills and sessions. Among the sessions that we participated in were the Children’s Packet drill which promotes intercultural cooperation.
The drills in Cebu that I participated in were also a chance for us to share and learn in teaching football as a social development platform, also as a tool to engage individuals in social issues arising from their localities and help them understand how to approach those issues.
After the weekend seminar in Cebu City (July 28-29), we headed to Sagay City in Negros Occidental to join Coach Charlie and CAC as team-members in their 5-day seminar titled: “COACHES ACROSS CONTINENTS – Global Leaders in Sports for Social Impact.” For almost a week (July 30-August 3), JP and I, led activities for the participants who were teachers, government employees and humanitarian volunteers from Gawad Kalinga’s SipaG Football Club.
The activity that captivated me the most was a HIV and Sexual Health drill. The aim is to spread sexual health awareness among the participants since the growth rate in the Philippines for HIV is very alarming. The continuous widespread of HIV in our country should be taken seriously.
It’s not just the drills and activities that inspired me so much during the CAC seminar, but also the wonderful city of Sagay, Negros Occidental wherein CAC held it’s event. The calm and pleasant ambience of the city is relaxing and so comfortable that it made you want to live there.
Besides experiencing the tranquil ambience in Sagay, we were also able to witness one AFC (Asian Football Confederation) match in Bacolod City. The match was between top football clubs from their respective leagues, Ceres-Negros FC of the Philippines and Home United of Singapore. It was great to witness this kind of match among the top clubs in Southeast Asia, especially seeing it personally. The match ended with a draw (1-1).
Overall, Coaches Across Continents helped me enhance my skills as a coach and I was able to have a fantastic opportunity to participate and facilitate drills that tackle social awareness and development. The 7 day seminar also guided me to become a more responsible coach and mentor. Teaching football shouldn’t only be about kicking the ball, but also instilling social responsibilities for us to be the catalyst of positive social change through Education Outside the Classroom.
April 11, 2017. Community Impact Coach Nico Fuchs-Lynch writes about working with Fútbol Más in Santiago, Chile.
Stepping into the Fútbol Más office in the heart of Santiago on Monday, I was immediately impressed by how well organized this partner was. Moreover, the enthusiasm that all of Fútbol Más brought to everything stood out to me right from that first day and did not let up throughout the week. At our first training session in Peñon, they proved that they are innovative and thoughtful coaches, never hesitating to modify games and always thinking of ways to connect the games to prominent social issues in Santiago. They truly made the sessions for them, not just learning CAC games and techniques, but incorporating and modifying them into their own methodology that they will use for many years to come.
The next day, our session was in a park close to the Fútbol Más headquarters and one game was very useful for the Chilean coaches. That game was condom tag, a version of tag that simulates how HIV can affect a community extremely fast. The incorporation of safe zones and condoms as protection from HIV further showed participants how they could use this game to teach about sexual safety in their coaching. Many participants were fans of this game because they realized that sexual safety is a major issue in Santiago and games such as condom tag were ways they could raise awareness about these issues. After our training session, we had the pleasure of watching the Chile-Venezuela World Cup qualifier with Fútbol Más. 4 minutes into the match, Chile scored and cries of “Viva Chile!” filled the restaurant. A 3-1 Chile victory and delicious sandwiches left spirits high for the next day’s session.
On Wednesday, we gave a talk on Self-Directed Learning. Many ideas were brought up about how to best empower kids to learn and create an educational system that puts kids and teachers at an equal level. Later that day, our session was located in a gymnasium in Maipu. Many local university students joined us, as well as the director of Fútbol Más himself. We played games relating to teamwork, creativity, and the power of negative influences. The director running like a cowboy in Circle of Friends is a memory I will never forget. On our way back from the session, we were introduced to a tasty Chilean snack, sopapillas. Eating these delicious fried pastries in front of the metro station was a perfect end to our day in Maipu.
Thursday’s session was held at the stadium in Maipu. Despite the fire that was smoking in the distance, we discussed gender stereotypes and identity. Participants modified games, living up to the ideas they brought forth during the SDL talk the day before. After the training, we had an exciting 5v5 game with participants. One of these participants happened to be the captain for the Chilean National Dwarf team!
On Friday, we returned to the same neighborhood where we began the session, in Peñon. Fútbol Más coaches shared some of the games they learned over the course of the week, adding in their own variations and describing the social impact behind the games. One coach did such a good job during her Coachback that she was invited to coach as a CIC during next week’s session in Antofogasta. It was a great ending to a week filled with great food and soccer in one of the coolest cities out there, Santiago!
Hot, Humid and Happy
September 10th 2015. CAC’s newest volunteer CJ Fritz writes about his first week in Indonesia with Uni Papua.
Landak, West Kalimantan was the setting of our first week of coaching in Indonesia. A two-hour flight and four-hour drive saw us arrive in Landak on Sunday evening ready and raring to go. That night, I was introduced to the idea of a bucket shower. On only my second night abroad, this foreign concept was quite a shock to my system. But, we played the cards we were dealt.
Every morning during the week we spent two hours with energy-filled primary school students who were convinced that we were famous. The David Beckham Effect from the children continued throughout the week among kids, coaches and practically everyone else who came across us. I signed I-don’t-know-how-many notebooks, t-shirts, and took so many photos with strangers that for a moment I thought I really was David Beckham.
I was very impressed with the level of excitement among the 60-some coaches with whom we worked. The children had equal – if not greater – zeal, but that is to be expected from children. The coaches started every session in high spirits and rarely experienced a dip in energy.
Both the children and coaches were quick to learn the games; Mingle Mingle – a dancing game that requires participants to create groups of varying sizes on-command – was a universal favorite. The coaches particularly enjoyed Adebayor Hands Against HIV, which involves participants in a small circle around one person. The ball represents HIV, and the person in the middle tries to avoid being “infected” with HIV as those on the outside try to hit them below the knee with the ball. Then, once they grasp how easily they can be “infected,” means of protection are introduced in the form of other participants entering the circle to try to block the ball. These forms of protection represented things like condoms or a one faithful partner.
The coaches were all very respectful, positive and willing to work. By the end of the week we had created a bond with the coaches who seemed appreciative and content with the week’s work. I was asked by multiple coaches for my contact information in order to keep in touch and to communicate about more games that they can teach their players. These exchanges left me with an accomplished feeling about the work we did in Landak and the memories we created with the coaches.
It was difficult to form a connection with any of the children since we had a different group of kids every morning, with each group consisting of 60 to 90 young players. Although we couldn’t connect with them easily, it was probably for the best, as we got to coach more than 400 players over the course of the week.
I was disappointed with how few female coaches there were – only two of 60 – but not surprised based on what we saw during the morning sessions. Teachers would bring groups of boys and girls to the field and wanted to have the girls sit out and watch the boys have all the fun, but with a little bit of persuasion soon the students were all happily involved. Seeing the girls laughing, smiling and enjoying the session gave me hope that Landak can create a community that supports women on and off the pitch.
There was a particularly special moment during the afternoon session on Tuesday while we were covering gender equity and female empowerment with the coaches. One of the two female coaches who was in attendance spoke up about how adults discourage girls from playing football and sports in general, and that we as coaches and members of the community need to work to change that trend. Her comment got a hugely positive reaction from the rest of the coaches and made me believe that we witnessed a bit of change that day.
The intense humidity was not enough to dampen the collective spirit of the participants, and by Friday night, a bucket shower was a gift that I gratefully accepted.
We left Landak somewhat sweaty, slightly stinky and supremely satisfied.
Creativity In The Copperbelt
CAC volunteer and intern Sarah Thompson blogs about her time in Chilalabombwe, Zambia with Malalo Sports.
July 30th 2015. Before arriving in Zambia I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Though I have done some travel to developing countries in the past, Africa seemed to be quite different from everything I have experienced and I will admit somewhat intimidating. But I was wrong. From the moment of my arrival in Lusaka I was greeted with friendly faces.
After an exciting first week in Kabwe, Zambia our team of five adventured on a day-long crowded bus ride followed by an even more crowded thirty minute taxi ride to Chililabombwe, our destination for the week. This small community, which resides in the Copperbelt, was surrounded by mines and mountains of mining waste. Our long travel day ended with what else but a dinner featuring fried chicken from the hungry lion, a soon to be favorite for the week.
From our arrival the calm and friendly nature of the community was evident – although this is not unique in Zambia. Regardless, it set the tone for a week filled with laughter and lessons by everyone, especially myself. It would be my first experience with a year two program. As soon as we stepped on the pitch I found participants were eager to share their knowledge of games from the previous year and ready to work to build an even stronger foundation. The focus of the week included gender equity, HIV, drugs and alcohol as well as a large portion on environmental games due to the local mining population.
Part of CAC’s year two curriculum allows participants to adapt games midway through the week to fit a social message they feel is important in their own community. Even after spending only a few days with the group I was eager to see the changes the coaches would make. I will put it simply, I was not disappointed. However one particular group stood out to me. This group chose to adapt a game called Pick Up and Get Clean. As the name suggests, two teams race through a grid of small goals to pick up the trash as quickly as they can. It just so happens that I had led this game the day prior. In the adaption it became a relay race while including ball skills and health education. In watching this team coach I found myself thinking, ‘that was such a great idea, I wish I would have done that!’
By working with coaches in their own communities it fosters creativity to solve problems with multiple solutions. While I thought I adequately addressed an environmental issue just one day ago, these special coaches showed me that just with a small tweak the game could come to life in a different way.
That is one lesson I have learned in my short time with CAC – that we are always learning and changing. It seems to be what makes CAC so special.
Small Group, Big Impact
Boston University student and soccer center-back, Rachel Bloznalis blogs from Kumba, Cameroon
June 18th 2015. After my third week in Cameroon with CAC I am realizing why they call Cameroon “the melting pot of Africa”. We started the journey in Yaounde, the nation’s capital, which is in the Centre Region. Then we traveled to Ngaoundere in the Adamawa Region, Dschang in the West Region, and the town that we are in now, Kumba, in the Southwest Region. Each destination has such a distinct culture that it makes them each feel like a different country. The landscapes, climates, religions, food, languages (over 250 dialects in Cameroon), tribes, traditions, and people are unique in every one. Our partner program in Kumba, Cameroon Football Development Program (CFDP) is made up of incredibly smart, eager, friendly, funny, and talented people that make Kumba unique.
CFDP is unlike the other programs that I have been a part of because it was week one of a two-week program. In week one we had the chance to work with the full-time staff, which is about eight fulltime men and women. The second week we will be working with community coaches and young leaders in addition to the direct staff totaling about 40 educators and coaches. Working with a small group of full-time local coaches dedicated to using soccer for social impact was extremely insightful for me. Getting to know the coaches personally, while also being able to have serious in-depth discussions about important issues in their community made this week very productive. At the beginning of the week, we had them brainstorm a list of issues that they thought were prominent in their community so that we could adapt games to fit exactly what they needed. The biggest issues in Kumba that they identified included tribalism, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual health and HIV, child labor, domestic violence, corruption, and school dropouts. It was a successful week because we had time to learn from them and listen to them so that they could learn from us.
The CFDP staff has the people and the motivation to make a long-term impact on their community. I could see and feel the direct CAC impact in all of the coaches when they were able to adapt games to teach about a specific community issue. A moment that stuck out to me was when one of the young leaders who attended every training session this week was able to create a game and coach it to the group. He chose to address the issue of school dropouts, which he knows first-hand is a big issue being a 15-year-old schoolboy. He created a simple game that involved foot skills and agility, while teaching about the negative influences that cause kids to drop out of school, which they defined as negative peer-pressure, child labor, alcohol and drugs, and financial issues. He taught this game confidently and proficiently to a group of coaches who were all older than him, some by 20 years. This was rewarding because he used what he learned from the CFDP curriculum and coaches with the help of CAC and applied it to make a direct impact on his young peers.
Another perk of a two-week program is being able to build strong relationships with the coaches and learn more about the local culture. A few of the coaches took us to Kumba’s crater lake on Saturday and we got to relax and enjoy the beautiful lake with them. I also got to experience more Kumba culture when one of the coaches brought me to church on Sunday morning. English is the first language in Kumba, which is another reason it feels like we are in a different country. Speaking English has helped me get to know the coaches better and more importantly it has allowed me to coach a few games after seeing them coached by Nora in French for two weeks. The local’s speak Pidgin English so it has been fun learning some phrases and words that sound like slurred broken English.
I am looking forward to the next and my last week in Cameroon with an excited and smart group of coaches!