• Friendship and Partnership for CAC in NYC

    September 22nd 2017. CAC ASK for Choice Strategist Nora Dooley reflects on our program in New York with South Bronx United.

    I met Eric Saito, the Education Director at South Bronx United, when we were volunteers together in South Africa with Grassroot Soccer. Four years later we both find ourselves still committed to the spaces we chose next: organizations that believe in the potential of sport to be a powerful force of compassion and opportunity. We go about our efforts in different ways, holding onto the belief that collaboration and partnership can launch us into new and improved realities.

    So in 2017 Coaches Across Continents and South Bronx United launched a new partnership, spearheaded by that friendship forged across oceans years ago. We held the first On-Field training in August with leaders from the ranks of SBU as well as other organizations around the boroughs of New York City.

    Over the course of this week we played over 40 CAC sport for social impact games and covered a range of topics including immigration, racism, income inequality, gender, bullying, sexual health and stereotypes. We discussed different strategies of coaching in order to stimulate dialogue around relevant social issues in participants’ lives and communities. We also recognize that some players come to a soccer field to escape some of these issues – so we dug into methodology that allows coaches to create opportunities for players to solve their own problems on the field, developing skills that will transfer into other social spheres.

    The players in SBU sport and education programs are from marginalized and vulnerable populations in the South Bronx. Many come from families of immigrants if they are not immigrants themselves. At a time in the US and the world when finding innovative and collaborative solutions to addressing serious issues of discrimination feels urgent, it is an honor to be able to do so with an inspiring group of New Yorkers, in a city I have called home, and with a dear friend.

    Coming away from this week begs a few questions: How can we build more coalitions in the US – cross-community, cross-issue, cross-sector? How can sport for development programs hold more space in the conversations at the intersections of social justice, education and politics? How can we leverage sport as an artistic tool for activism, like so many already use visual arts, music, and literature?

    Lots to think about, lots to do… back to work!

  • Crossing Borders, Finding Home

    February 25, 2017. Self-Directed Learning Process Consultant, Emily Kruger writes about FESAC program in Obregón, Sonora, Mexico.

    Part 1: Borders

    We arrived in Ciudad Obregón after an incredible 4 days with the Physical Education teachers in Hermosillo, who set the bar very high for the three locations in our partnership with FESAC and SEC in Mexico. Within just a few minutes of Monday morning’s Circle of Friends, it was obvious that these 50 PE teachers would bring the same enthusiasm and creative thinking that enriched the week before. This meant another week with a special flare for a Year 2 program, where CAC could confidently share ownership of the week with the participants. When asked about creating and leading their own games, participants made it clear they wanted more responsibility than they took on last year.

    By Tuesday they were already working together to prepare the session for Wednesday. There were seven groups of 4-5 coaches, each one huddled around big sheets of paper on make-shift tables with markers in hand. We walked around and listened in as they collaborated: pointing, moving, deliberating, drawing, and re-drawing. Within 30 minutes, each group had a full sheet of paper with a diagram up top, description of how to play, and potential questions to ask while leading it. They were even checking the criteria: Are the games you created universally accessible? Is there space for problem solving and critical thinking by the students? Is there a social impact message integrated into the game? We asked if they would be ready to coach them the next day and there was a resounding “sí!” from everyone.

    My favorite game was called “Muro de Trump” or “Trump’s Wall”. They split the groups into four teams and asked each one to pick a Mexican city that borders the U.S. When the coaches called out a city, that team tried to “cross the border” without being tagged by the border control officers. They added ways to get through border control legally, like obtaining a visa i.e. a ball. This was such a creative, locally-relevant iteration of what I called “sharks and minnows” growing up. Considering it was a new idea, the coaches agreed that there was more to the metaphor that they are going to work out because they really want to use this game to talk with their students about the realities and dangers of crossing the Mexico-U.S. border. For example, what are the consequences of being caught by border police without a visa? What might happen when you get to the other side? Why do people in Mexico want/need to live in the U.S.? There is so much here to dig into! Not only is it a dynamic game, but it also creates a space for some very important conversations between teachers and students here in Mexico.

    This game made me see immigration through the lens of people in Mexico. It will be an important conversation and reflection to continue as we travel to Nogales for our final week working with the Physical Education teachers of Sonora, Mexico!