• Chala Bagundi! Tales from Hyderabad with Magic Bus

    November 29th 2017. Global Citizen, Heather “Action” Jackson reflects on her week in Hyderabad, India with Magic Bus for the Coaches Across Continents program with SDL Charlie Crawford.

    My journal is full of new words, phrases and slang I’ve learned here in India. A couple of my favorites come from our week with Magic Bus outside of Hyderabad. “Chala Bagundi” loosely translates to “Awesome!” Magic Bus, whose name derives from the “magic” that happens through the program and its use of sport as a catalyst for education, is Chala Bagundi, as was our time together.

    In a retreat setting at the University of Forest Biodiversity in Dulapally village, we spent time on the (homemade) field, in the classroom and in the dorms in the evening. Once again, these youth mentors and coaches were so inspiring and impressive; many had traveled overnight by bus to be a part of this program, showed no signs of weariness and were ready from the start to laugh, sing, play and develop as leaders with CAC.

    Highlights included:

    32 games over 3 days, including a focus on female empowerment and child rights. A favorite was a version of Scary Soccer the MB youth mentors developed using moves from Cricket, Kabaddi, and Handball. Creativity + Local Flavor = Chala Bagundi.

    Routine sing alongs in the classroom, including songs about child rights, Magic Bus, India and of course, love. While we focused on having a voice on the field and taking that into life, these voices underscored the leaders’ sense of, and commitment to, community. Thank heavens they didn’t ask for a repeat solo from Charlie and I.

    Playing Dam Sharats, also known as action movie charades in Hindi, with the whole crew. Sometimes it can be hard not to understand a word people are saying, but we can all understand the universal language of laughter. Suffice to say, you can only hope to get Titanic as your challenge.

    Rock on Magic Bus. Stay Chala Bagundi!

  • Eagerness, Excitement, Encouragement

    CAC SDL coach Markus Bensch talks about his time with Magic Bus in Hyderabad, India.

    November 18th 2015. Can you impact a group that you work with for 2 and a half days? That was the question I asked myself when I was approaching Hyderabad for my 2nd program with Magic Bus in India. Tejas (one of our Community Impact Coaches in India) and I arrived together with the participants at the A.P. Forest Academy in Hyderabad on late Saturday morning. This campus would be our home for the next 2.5 days. Due to the Diwali festival the program was scheduled over the weekend and would end on Monday afternoon.

    After everybody’s arrival we ate lunch together and I had to realize that the food in Hyderabad was even spicier than in Bangalore. I had to use quite a bit of the yogurt sauce that was provided to soften the taste. After Tejas, who lives in Bangalore, said that the food is spicy for him as well, I was re-assured that everything is fine with my taste buds.

    After the heat left my mouth again we met for our first session in the classroom. As part of the introduction we asked the participants about their expectations for the course. As they mentioned their priorities I was putting together in my head the curriculum for the next two days. They asked for a game about nutrition? OK, we can play Balotelli for Health & Wellness. They want to get taught different warm-ups? No problem, I can show them many different variations of Circle of Friends. They want to learn goalkeeping skills? Great, I have planned to play Hope Solo Skills for Life anyway. They want to play Fun games? Sure, during Head Catch we will have a lot of laugher. They would like to learn how to easily introduce to topic of sexual and reproductive health to their children and youth? I think our ASK for Choice game ‘Indonesia for Knowledge’ works perfectly for that. And I was excited, because the participants seemed very eager to learn many new things.

    Hyderabad is a hot place during the day so we had to hold back with our excitement and only went on the pitch later in the afternoon for our first On-Field session. ‘Circle of Friends’ already caused a lot of laugher and Mingle Mingle kept the energy high. On the 2nd day we then also got to the topic of sexual and reproductive health. I was not surprised by this request, because I knew that India is a country where people have difficulty talking about any topic that is related to our bodies, sexuality and relationships. Again I was impressed by the eagerness of these participants to change that, because they have realized that keeping these topics under wraps impacts the high number of teenage pregnancies and abortions, forced marriages, sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS. ‘Indonesia for Knowledge’ is a game where two teams are standing in a line and the first two people are facing each other. There is some space between the two players and to their left and right are two gates. One of them represents healthy/positive behaviors and the other unhealthy/negative behaviors. Now the coach yells out different choices a person can make and the respective person in the front has to quickly decide if it is healthy or unhealthy. I started with “Eat vegetables”, “Smoking”, “Drink Water”, “Eat a lot of chocolate” and then moved on to statements like “Have knowledge about your body”, “Use a condom”, “Talk about sex”, “Have a boyfriend/girlfriend” and many more. It was a lot of fun and competition and some of the statements caused an argument as they were not clearly positive or negative. The participants were very grateful for this game as it gives the children the opportunity to make a statement without having to raise their voice and the coach can get a very good idea of what his/her players think about sexual education. They were eager to use it as an introduction before they would even talk with their youth about sexuality.

    At the closing ceremony we got to see a visual treat as Tejas, who is a freestyle footballer, gave us a short performance of his skills. It was exciting to see what can be achieved through fun and hard work and what can be done with a ball when it is in the possession of an artist. And as we were driving back from the camp to the city of Hyderabad I realized that even a short training of only 2 and a half days has impact if it is paired with eagerness, excitement and encouragement.


  • CAC Rolls on with Magic Bus

    November 17, 2014.  Off-Field volunteer Gail Buswell joins the team for her first On-Field Program with Coaches Across Continents and Magic Bus in India.

    I’ve been lucky enough to have worked as a volunteer behind the scenes for CAC for a few months and ever since I heard about this groundbreaking organization, I have been itching to find out more and see how they work their magic On-Field. This week I got the chance to see just that in Hyderabad, as I joined Brian and Nora, supported by Pankaj and Prasanna from Slum Soccer, and Ali a fellow volunteer. The team was there for the first year of CAC’s award winning Hat-Trick Initiative with Magic Bus. It was the perfect introduction for me as the partnership between CAC and Magic Bus is a new one and has the potential to impact tens of thousands of children in India through Magic Bus’s extensive network of coaches and volunteers.

    Magic Bus had a bit of a head start on other organizations in that their experienced coaches were already familiar with the concept of using sport and play for education. The focus of the week was therefore to add to this knowledge by introducing CAC’s novel and forward thinking approach to Self-Directed Learning. In contrast to teaching by presenting facts and answers, the CAC strategy is to encourage participants to solve their own problems collectively (whilst at the same time learning new football skills and having a huge amount of fun!). Translated to a community environment, this methodology is immensely powerful as it can be applied to any issue or problem. CAC provides a particular focus on key global issues such as gender equality, conflict resolution, and health and wellness– but the messaging is the same across different countries and cultures: communicate, respect each other, and embrace your choice to make the best decisions for yourself and your community.

    I was shocked to learn during the week that 51% of men and 54% of women in India believe that in certain circumstances it can be justifiable to beat your wife. Even amongst the 27 kind and compassionate people in the group, initially only one woman was willing to stand up and publically say that she disagrees with this mentality. This was a sobering reminder of the power of entrenched tradition in a culture. Against this background it is clear to see the potential impact of encouraging the next generation to believe that they have a voice, they have a choice, and that there are alternative solutions to violence. Armed with these life skills they, together with their local community, have the power to question and change their existing culture.

    CAC changes the way people think in subtle and clever ways. The games focus around footballer role models and one of these is Marta (da Silva). Marta plays for the Brazilian women’s national team and is the 5 time winner of FIFA World Player of the Year. Before starting the ‘Marta’ games Brian asked the group which football player had won the World Player of the Year the most times. Hands shot up and cries of ‘Ronaldo’, ‘Messi’ and ‘Cantona’ rung out. When after several minutes no one had made the correct guess Brian asked the group a simple question – ‘Do women play football?”. There was much shaking of heads – a resounding no. It was a big surprise when Brian introduced them to the player Marta and by the end of the week everyone wanted to play football like Marta!

    Throughout the week I was hugely impressed by the energy and enthusiasm and capacity for fun and laughter of all the Magic Bus coaches. They were engaged and creative in all the games and did not shy away from the difficult and impassioned debates that the games provoked. Nora and Brian created a challenging, but safe environment for all the coaches, which allowed them to voice their views and begin to think about things in a different way. They made it look easy, but it’s a tremendously difficult thing to do and it was a privilege to watch them at work. It is this environment that I hope the Magic Bus coaches can help create for their kids. With the passion and potential on display this week, I am sure they can and I am really excited to see where Magic Bus takes what they have learned from CAC. I would love to come back for year 2 of the Hat-Trick program to see how the coaches and the communities in which they are leaders have applied the skills they have learned this week and also to catch up with all the new friends I have made. After all, once you have all ‘cuckoo’ danced like chickens together, you are friends for life!!


    Gail Buswell enjoys her first week On-Field with Coaches Across Continents

    Gail Buswell enjoys her first week On-Field with Coaches Across Continents