Driving Social Impact Through Sport
September 20th 2017. CAC program participant and coach JohnPaul McTheophilus wrote about experiencing CAC for the first time in Bali, Indonesia with Uni Papua.
I had never heard of ‘Coaches Across Continents (CAC)’ until last week when my friend (Bationo) invited me to take part in a 5 day Coaching Clinic by CAC. So, I looked up on the internet and a quick glance at their website raised my curiosity.
As a football player I’ve had the opportunity to work with different coaches at training grounds and listen to all kinds of tactical instructions, and motivational speeches on the sidelines as well as in the dressing rooms. I’m always fascinated at how these coaches create their programs and plans that keep players physically and mentally fit to perform at the highest level. So, my view of football has always been on the professional level. I’ve never looked at football as an important tool to drive a social impact movement.
First, I was happy and motivated to work and learn from people who are genuinely happy in what they do and are committed to helping others especially young people. From Emily’s enthusiasm and excitement, and Tejas’ creativity, the atmosphere was positive and there was never a dull moment. I witnessed the essence of using football as a tool to develop coaches and kids to become critical thinkers.
Innovative ideas were shared through drills and games like:
– Circle of Friends
– Marta for Conflict Resolution
– Messi For Healthy and Awareness
– Gaza Support System
– Stamford Bridge Tag,
– Games For Children,
– Scary Soccer, etc
I was impressed at how each of these football drills and games presented us with several options to tackle social challenges like drugs, alcohol, smoking, sexual molestation or harassment, bullying etc. Information about health related problems like malnutrition and diseases (e.g HIV/AIDS) can be passed and made accessible to children and communities using sport. The games not only revealed social problems and their causes but they also proffered solutions as well as preventive measures.
At the end, It was the most rewarding experience I have ever had, and I realized that empowering people with knowledge and skills is the key to driving social impact, and we can comfortably inculcate this message through sports. I’m grateful to CAC, especially the coaches Emily Kruger and Tejas, for their positive energy, time and patience throughout the program. I’m very keen to use this experience as a guide to creating social impact anywhere I go.
From Phnom Penh to the Philippines
May 6th 2016. CAC Community Impact Coach Makara Sopheak from our partner ISF in Cambodia writes about his time with CAC and FundLife International in the Philippines. Thanks to ISF who first published this blog.
My name is Makara Sopheak. I am one of the senior coaches at Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF). I always dreamed of being a football coach and developing football in Cambodia. I used to be the leader of my high school football team and then I was a volunteer coach. I have learned many things since I came to ISF in 2011, I got to know many other football organizations and worked closely with them, especially Coaches Across Continents (CAC). For some years, CAC has been working with ISF to teach coaching and football for social change. They also do international exchanges when coaches from different countries train each other. This month, I was selected to be a Community Impact Coach in CAC’s program in The Philippines with FundLife International.
After working with CAC for a few years, in the coaching program and doing the Online Education initiative, I was thrilled to hear that I was selected to join the program in The Philippines. I immediately started to prepare documents and exercises to do during the training. The CAC program in the Philippine is similar to Cambodia and they organize an exchange to share sport for social development skills with other coaches. The training is based on doing fun games to teach about social issues. In this case, the CAC program was focused on child rights and gender equality.
The reason that I wanted to be part of the program was because I want to work closely with CAC in order to learn more about football and share it to other coaches both in Cambodia and other countries. Charlie from CAC and I provided training to 82 coaches in Tacloban and BayBay. First they learnt about some of the games we developed and then they got to create games by themselves. Some Filipino Community Impact Coaches helped us with the sessions.
Besides sharing and coaching them, I also learned a lot from the Filipino coaches. They taught me some English football terms and new methods to create football games about social issues like HIV. Joining this program taught me about being flexible and improved my communication skills with foreigners. I also learned a lot more about football for social change.
It was the first time for me to travel abroad and I really like The Philippines: the green environment, nice food and very friendly people. Even though some things (like flying for the first time) were a bit challenging, I would like to work with the CAC team in the future to do more training abroad. After coming back, I talked to our coaches about what I learned in The Philippines and what skills they need to also do an international exchange. On top of that, I will talk to our Football Programme Manager to arrange a training course that I have done in The Philippines to share with other coaches. I hope other coaches will get the opportunity like me to work with the CAC staff and exchange ideas with others coaches.
Laura Kane blogs from Jamaica as the team continue their work in Montego Bay with the Spanish-Jamaica Foundation.
December 21st 2015. The second leg of our journey in Jamaica brought us to Montego Bay. “Mobay” is the second largest city in Jamaica and a huge tourist attraction. Crime is a major problem as pickpocketing and petty theft are common among tourist destinations. However, our efforts this week were focused on child rights and HIV/AIDS.
A rain storm on our third day forced the group to stay inside for a child rights talk. I was slightly nervous given the resistance we faced in Kingston a few days earlier. But I must say, the coaches of Mobay and the surrounding parishes were engaged, respectful, and open to change! We discussed the topic of homosexuality, different forms of abuse, and the important role that coaches play in the life of a child. In Kingston, most discussions began and ended with someone stating, “but this is just our culture.” Implying that change simply isn’t possible. While we talked about respecting different cultures and the ideals that are unique to Jamaica, we also found common ground in honoring some basic human rights. The coaches did their best to help us understand the issues they face and the cultural norms that make change difficult. But I also felt like we had a group that was actively looking for new ways to help educate those around them. They were engaged and taking notes the entire time. Our discussions were productive and I left the day feeling encouraged.
On the fourth day, we addressed the topic of HIV/AIDS on the field. It was very clear that this topic is not commonly talked about in Jamaica. However, our coaches were open and honest about the taboo nature of this disease. It would be difficult to pinpoint how severe this problem is because men do not often get tested for fear of a positive result. A positive result would mean public shaming within the community. Imagine not being invited to play pick-up on Saturdays because people are fearful that you would pass the virus on to them. Most shocking in our conversation was the fact that most boys become sexually active around the age of 9. The group spoke freely about their culture of men having multiple girlfriends at one time. While the women are more willing to be tested, it is hard to be sure that your partner is being faithful. Our group of coaches identified several ways in which we can help educate others in the community about HIV/AIDS. It was great to see them step up, use their voice, and speak passionately about helping to change the culture.
I’ll be leaving Jamaica with a sunburn, some new friends, and a lot of hope for the future. I can’t wait to return to this beautiful country someday!
Quaking (With Laughter And Learning) in Bhaktapur!
CAC perennial volunteer Graham Bradford writes about his week in Bhaktapur, Nepal with Childreach Nepal.
December 16th 2015. Coaches Across Continents Founder, Nick and 5 year returning volunteer Graham began a two week program with partner organization Childreach Nepal (CRN) in the historic and ancient city of Bhaktapur, a hour’s ride east of Kathmandu. CRN is an organization with a holistic philosophy and approach to helping Nepali children realize their potential despite widespread poverty, and work in areas of education, child protection, health and enterprise. The organization had been at the forefront of relief work and emergency shelter provision following the disastrous earthquake of April 2015, particularly in the mountainous region of Sindhupalchok, north of Kathmandu and where the CAC coaches would travel next week.
Whilst not as badly affected as other areas, the earthquake caused significant damage across the city, including some of the wonderful historic temples in the immediate proximity to our accommodation. Houses on both sides of the hotel were essentially destroyed, although it was amazing and humbling to see families in the rubble seeking to rebuild brick-by-brick and at the same time surviving day-to-day hardships of poverty and increasingly cold nights. Following a first night of restlessness caused by fighting dogs and 5AM puja bells, Nick and G somehow managed to sleep through a 4.2 Richter scale aftershock which we are sure was a great concern to those having to live in already damaged homes.
Working with a city center school badly affected by the earthquake, we worked with around 40 young and enthusiastic people and 5 local teachers across a program addressing locally pertinent issues, and particularly child trafficking and child rights. The young leaders worked out of temporary classrooms as the main school building, whilst still standing, was structurally unsafe. This limited the area available to run the On-Field elements of the program, but did not prevent an active, energetic and noisy week of games and Self Directed Learning progressing to a boisterous conclusion.
The program in Bhaktapur coincided with World Aids Day and gave a perfect platform to address the issues facing the young people through a series of fun but educational and informative games based around the dangers of HIV and good choices that can be made to reduce the risk of infection. Whilst the students ranged from as young as 12 years of age, they approached the issues with openness and maturity, a credit to their community and the work of CRN with the school, particularly our partner workers Prateek and Animika who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and in front of stage to ensure an efficient program.
Bhaktapur remains a city in the early stages of recovery, a recovery not helped by a dramatic fall in visitor income since the earthquake, however the energy and resilience of our young leaders will make that recovery a more likely outcome in the months and years ahead.
Sweaty and Satisfied
CAC volunteer CJ Fritz blogs from Dar Es Salaam in Tanzania and our work with the Municipal Council.
December 3rd 2015. A hectic national exam schedule for students across Tanzania saw our training start on Tuesday and run until Friday in order for local teachers attending our program to prepare their students for the exams that loomed.
Although we only had four days with our group, all forty participants – made up primarily of schoolteachers with a few coaches mixed in – made the program supremely enjoyable. Every morning began with big smiles and warm welcomes, making us feel less like wazungu (the Tanzanian term for foreigners) and more like close friends of the participants.
We had the unique opportunity to conduct our sessions in a newly opened sports complex complete with turf, futsal and basketball courts as well as sand pits for volleyball. The complex, sponsored by Sunderland Football Club in England, hosts many programs and provides activities for homeless and disadvantaged children in the area. It was fantastic to see such a great safe space that sustains so many helpful activities for children who need them.
During the week we focused mainly on financial literacy, HIV/AIDS prevention and gender equity, all of which were objectives set by the participants for the week. We also detailed some ways that the participants could effectively teach or coach large groups of children – because many of them work in overcrowded schools – and how to coach when they don’t have materials, which are sorely lacking for physical education programs at schools in the area.
The participants enthusiastically jumped into new games that addressed the problems that they were most passionate about, and many of them asked every day about when we would send them instructions on how to set up the games. They were very eager to study and implement the games they were learning. It was a very encouraging sign for sustainability during the year to come.
We spent four hours every morning with the participants in the sweltering heat and humidity, but they were so excited about the games that we had to insist on a water break.
By the time Friday rolled around many people asked if CAC could come back for a longer stay next year. Their eagerness to learn was unstoppable, their dedication to change undeniable and their focus on the issues at hand unwavering. I am confident that they will put to use what they learned this past week. I believe that the schools in which they teach and the teams over which they oversee are in the capable hands of teachers dedicated to change who will not settle for anything less.
Tomorrow is World AIDS Day
November 30th 2015. Tomorrow, December 1st, is World AIDS day. Since CAC was founded in 2008 we have been a proud supporter of the day which is an opportunity for people worldwide to unite in the fight against HIV, show their support for people living with HIV and to commemorate people who have died. It is estimated that 34 million people worldwide currently live with HIV. Since 1984, 35 million people have died of HIV/AIDS.
This year we have given all of our global partners an HIV/AIDS packet of educational games for them to use within their community. In total this packet will be used by 830 organizations in 87 different countries. These games teach youth how to prevent HIV/AIDS and how to support people living with HIV/AIDS through sport. Many of the partners we work with across the world focus specifically on HIV/AIDS within their community such as Rumah Cemara and VAP. They use sport to educate children about HIV prevention and promoting regular testing through sport. Over the past eight years many of our partners have run testing events and tournaments on World AIDS day.
World AIDS Day is one of the three global days we ask all of our partners to participate in alongside International Women’s Day on March 8th and Peace Day on September 21st. These days bring attention to some of the biggest issues in the world today. They highlight groups and communities of people who have often been marginalized. CAC is delighted to continue supporting these powerful days and these underserved communities.