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!