• Creating Positive Impact in a Conflict Zone

    August 7th, 2017. Salim Blanden, CAC Community Impact Coach and Founder of CAC partner Mbarara Sports Academy in Uganda, writes about his experience working for Coaches Across Continents on-field with Horn Of Africa Development Initiative (HODI), in Kenya. 

    Migori, Rusinga Island, Mogotio, Nairobi – our next destination would be Marsabit with HODI (Horn Of Africa Development Initiative) for our fifth and last program in Kenya. Our ten hour trip to Marsabit started at 7:00 AM in Nairobi with everyone looking forward to working with HODI, an amazing program near the Somalia border which is ran by Fatuma Adan, a recent graduate of law.

    Fatuma established HODI as a community-based organization in 2003 to address the inadequacy of access to legal services for the poor people of Marsabit. She shunned salaried employment at the judiciary to, instead provide a small legal aid desk for people who needed, but could not afford legal representation in court cases. The organization has since grown to be the voice of championing peace and development in Marsabit through advocacy, education, community cohesion and livelihood support programs – all through using football. Today, HODI serves close to seven thousand people with offices in Marsabit and Moyale. For me, I was looking forward to a great week working with an organization that has a lot of meaning to the people of Marsabit.

    As usual, we would start the training on Monday morning. But before we began we held a meeting with Noor Abduqadri, a worker with HODI, and other staff who talked to us about their expectations and what they wanted to learn from Coaches Across Continents. They also wanted to tell us about things to talk about and what not to talk about. Since Marsabit is purely a Muslim majority region, most female participants would wear long dresses commonly known as ‘the Hijab’ and also cover their heads at all times during the training sessions. Noor expressed his fear that the female participants would not be open to us since we were all male. Knowing that Mumina, a staff from HODI and one of the female participants, would be training with us, I knew everything was going to be possible.

    As this was going to be our second week conducting a program as Community Impact Coaches (CIC), I did not want to ask a lot from Mark Gabriel – our leader from CAC. But, I did want to find our own way of running a better week with my friend Nicolas Achimpota, a CIC from Tanzania.

    Our first day on Monday was a great one and very exciting, especially when we started to play. There were no religious issues, the girls felt free to play with boys and were comfortable with us which was not what we thought. This program was unique because we had more female participants compared to males, which was rare to me. All of the past four programs we did in Kenya had more male partcipants than females. For HODI, it was different, proof of how this organization has empowered women in Marsabit. Majority of the girls were very active throughout the program and during our school visit to one of the primary schools in the area, it was the girls that coached games.

    Our third day was a short one, because of the anticipated President’s visit for a political campaign in Marsabit. The President of Kenya was campaigning in Marsabit with a few days remaining to the country’s general elections, and people all over Marsabit wanted to attend this campaign. With little time to the end of the program, one of the participants told us the town would not be a safe place to pass when the president arrives. We decided to stop the training and go back to the hotel, which was the best choice for us. As soon as we reached the hotel, the president arrived and had a peaceful campaign that lasted about one hour with a lot of security personnel on all the streets of Marsabit.

    After the president left however, conflict broke out between tribes that supported different county candidates, and the police intervened. We decided to lock ourselves in the rooms until we were sure of safety outside. After the situation normalized in the evening, I knocked on Mark’s door for a long time but he never responded… Later told me he would not risk opening for anyone, even if he knew them. We laughed about it!

    At the end of the week, we decided to go back to the field to do the last training and give out certificates, we also wanted to hear their experiences regarding the violence and what they thought ahead of elections.

    The coaches held a meeting and talked about how they could keep safe as community leaders during the election period. They all believed that what they had learned from CAC throughout the week and the messages they had learned from the games, especially those about peace and conflict prevention, were necessary for them to practice.

    For me this was a clear sign that we had created positive impact at the right time through games.

     

     

     

  • 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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  • An Inspiring Week On The Importance Of Female Empowerment

    Community Impact Coach David Mulo of Vijana Amani Pamoja and Green-Kenya in Nairobi, travels with CAC to our program in Northern Kenya with Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI).

    25th May 2015.  At 1:45am on Monday the 11th of May I get a call: “Good morning David, Could you please talk to the taxi driver and give him directions to your place so that we can pick you up?” I heard a calm and persuasive voice from the other end of the line. It was Markus, one of the coaches from Coaches Across Continents that I was supposed to travel to Marsabit with. And I don’t want to forget the big man Turner, or “Hooch” as he would like to be called on the field.

    We reached the bus station at 2am, the bus was supposed to leave at 2:30 “Western time”. The word “Western time” is vivid in my mind because when I told Markus that we are going to travel at 2:30am, his first comment was, “I hope it is Western Time”. At the bus station, we met a skinny guy with dark and protruding eyes. He was a Somali youth. I think the reason for his eyes was because he was munching “Mirra” (a local drug that has a stimulating effect) the whole night.

    Our journey of 550km to the north of Kenya felt to me like it was two times longer. I kept on wondering “Where is this place called Marsabit?”. After just a kilometer loud, consistent music started to play and a man sang in Arabic for the next 150 kilometers. The speaker was just next to my head so there was no way I could take a nap. I thought the music signified that I am going to another county and I have to tune my mind. At some point the music begun to sound like a lullaby and the next time I woke up we were in Isiolo.

    Noon: We arrived in Marsabit, after a 10 hour journey. I was really exhausted. After I sorted out our luggage I saw this tall, dark skinned lady wearing a Bui Bui (a long black dress with a hijab covering her head as a symbol of her Muslim religion). With an infectious smile she was talking to Markus and Turnner and I was curious to find out about the discussion they had and who she was. “My name is Khula Dida. I work for Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI).” Khula took us to our Hotel which was just few yards away from the bus stop and promised that Noor (HODI’s program director) will come and meet us later at 8pm.

    I got into my room, took a shower and of course took a nap. Noor appeared at the promised time. He was a soft spoken young man with a small gap between his upper teeth who always maintained eye contact while talking to you. Later I found out through the coaches that people with a gap between their teeth are considered to be intelligent and handsome. The four of us had a nice chat as we tried to find out more about the community. We wanted to know which social issues they were facing, the number of participants we expect, what was the best time to start the training and many more. I realized that through all these questions Markus laid the basis for a successful training.

    During our discussion two social issues caught my attention: Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and early marriage. These in-humane acts are some of the deep rooted cultural practices in many communities around Marsabit. “Many young girls go through the cut while they are still young and then they get married without their consent. I think many of my friends if not all have gone through it.” said Khula, the woman that welcomed us at the bus stop when we arrived. She had now become my source of information and she spoke very openly about the practice of FGM not wanting it to happen to her own daughter.

    On the first day of our training we met these beautiful young girls who were covered from their head to at their feet. They greeted us with a lot of happiness, perhaps with the quest and knowledge to tackle gender norms. I was surprised that more women than men turned up for the training in this male dominated community.

    As we were going through CAC’s games with the participants many things were going through my mind as a result of the meeting that we had with Noor the day before. I was surprised that I didn’t see Turner and Markus showing a sign of disbelief. Maybe because they have heard and seen many of these stories after working with CAC. After some games we had to take a rest because the heat was unbearable. We ate bananas and quenched our thirst with cold water that was being provided by HODI. At the end of each session we reviewed the games and their social impact.

    I realized there is a huge gap between the males and females in Marsabit County. As we were walking back to our hotel I saw male coaches from the group we trained walking in a group ten yards away from their female counterparts. I wanted to know the reason why and so I asked one of the coaches. “A girl or a woman is not supposed to walk with a man if they are not married otherwise the woman will be considered to be a prostitute or loose” said Amina, who seemed to be annoyed about the whole story. I could read that from her facial expression.

    On Saturday after completing the Child’s Rights discussion I decided that I want to do something for the girls when I get back to Nairobi. Even though the problem is not that big at home still many girls are going through horrendous moments. That happens in different parts of the World. Marsabit and Nairobi are just two examples. 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). I would like to take this opportunity to thank Markus, Turnner, Nora, Brian and Nick and the whole CAC family for giving me this life changing opportunity. I am happy to be a part of CAC who are global leaders in Sports for Social Impact. I hope to meet with again with you somewhere else in the world just so we can continue to do our best with the little that we have.

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  • Wonderful World of Marsabit, Kenya

    July 15, 2013. A six-hour ride in a mutatu, another five hours traveling on unpaved
    road, an encounter with an ostrich family of thirty-some offspring, and we finally arrived in Marsabit. The town, located in remote Northern Kenya, is a complete 180 degree turnaround from Nairobi’s crowded, noisy city streets. In Marsabit, we found ourselves under a blanket of stars (which only became brighter when the power went out), and lulled to sleep each night by the music and prayers emanating from the local mosque.

    Coach Brian left early Wednesday morning to head to the next CAC program in Tanzania, but Coaches Charlie, AJ, and Megan managed to run the program just fine, even without “dad” around. We worked with HODI’s U-13 and U-16 girls and boys teams, their coaches, and a group of peer educators who work in local schools. The Kenyan public school teachers are still on strike, which meant that we were able to work with the younger players all day. Sessions ran in both the morning and the afternoon, oftentimes alongside some combination of cattle, sheep, or donkeys. Two main problems that the group identified in their community are tribalism and restrictive attitudes towards girls playing sports. As a result, we focused on games for conflict resolution and gener equity throughout the week.

    It was great to hear the young coaches and players use their voices more and more as the week went on. As the week progressed, we also saw more and more girls come to the pitch wearing soccer shorts rather than longer skirts. Despite the fact that many of our participants started fasting for Ramadan this week, they brought boundless energy and enthusiasm to the field each day. We had a great time collaborating with HODI for the second year in a row, and we hope that the young leaders that we worked with will use the games and skills that they learned this week to help bring change to their community.

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  • Coaches Across Continents Releases New Video

    February 27, 2013.  Coaches Across Continents is happy to release our latest video, our 2013 Social Impact Documentary.

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KCZCNdRt5vc]

    Filmed in Marsabit, Kenya with our partner group Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI), this community is showing how sport can change a community that faces female genital mutilation, girls being sold into marriage, and gun violence.

    It’s fascinating to see the impact of the Coaches Across Continents work from the voices of the local coaches, teachers, and young people.  We get a chance to see first-hand the impact that sport is having on programs like HODI all over the world.

    Nick Gates, Founder, Coaches Across Continents

    Click here to see all the CAC videos on our YouTube channel.

  • Piloting the GOAL On field Program with Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI) – Part 2


    September 12, 2012: (Part 2 of 2) For ten days the CAC staff worked with HODI coaches for three hours in the morning, covering CAC’s Chance to Choice curriculum as well as teaching a coaching style that correlates with football for social development, and then in the afternoons piloting the new GOAL games that addressed themes such as self esteem, confidence in voice, health and hygiene, community support and many others. In the afternoons coaches also participated in GOAL classroom activities where movement, group work and collaboration were the priorities.

    With each new GOAL game a female athlete role model’s story was shared, opening up the coaches minds to the possibilities that existed in the world for females. It was a great time to share especially considering the London 2012 Olympics had just ended and the majority of coaches didn’t see any of the events and were unaware of the incredible female athletes that had competed for their respective countries. It was a great opportunity to also share about the female Muslim athletes that had taken great strides to compete or the African female runners that had made their countries proud. Coaches held on to the stories and even quizzed each other during the weeks based on the information shared.

    After 45 hours on the field, Coaches Across Continents congratulating the coaches at the certificate ceremony.

    HODI coaches were proud to be the first group of coaches who were taught the GOAL games and always participated with a lot of energy and enthusiasm. Mia Hamm Communication, Sawa’s Rights and Nicola’s Expressions became favorites as each game gave a role model’s story, practiced an important life skill and was competitive and fun. All of the GOAL games are consistent to Coaches Across Continent’s approach to football for social development, in that the games are used to teach the life skills and the coaches’ role includes creating the learning environment for the youth on the field. Coaches have to be trained to deliver games, be capable of finding the teachable moments and then connecting the skill on the field with the youth’s life off the field. Practicing healthy behaviors on the pitch like using one’s voice, communicating with teammates, solving problems and dealing with cheating are all skills that run throughout Coaches Across Continents curriculum and now new skills are being introduced that will be taught to many more coaches and participants through the GOAL On Field Program!

    In fact the HODI program directors and head coaches were so impressed by the GOAL On Field Program that they committed to running the 24-week curriculum with their 6,000 HODI youth participants. HODI is also interested in implementing the GOAL curriculum in the classroom after seeing the response from the female participants and realizing that as a combination, the in classroom skills and the on the field skills can help to address local issues facing female youth in Marsabit. The interest in the GOAL curriculum would introduce Women Win to the partnership, which are well equipped to teach the coaches and program directors of HODI to deliver the many activities that complement the GOAL On Field Program. GOAL aims to reach 100,000 young women in the next 18 months. With the new GOAL On Field Program GOAL participants will be able to learn, become aware of important issues and practice life skills in both the classroom and on the football or sports field.