• Kindness

    September 23rd 2016. Alicia Calcagni blogs from Sentani and Jayapura in Indonesia with Uni Papau FC.
    Mark and I have spent the last 2 weeks in Sentani and Jayapura with a Uni Papua crew, and they significantly enhanced our experience. To start, the coordinator of the Jayapura program, Yanti, opened her house to us. Then in Jayapura, we had the help of Marthin, Natalia, Yan, and Ken. All of them can speak a little English, so collectively they were able to help us clearly convey all of the games and social messages. Without them, it really would not have been possible. Off the field, they took us to all their favorite spots likthe coffee shop, the place they always go for dinner, and the hill on Sentani lake. They made the programs run smoothly and made sure we had a great time off of the field. One act of kindness that I will never forget was when I was sick in bed with a cold. I was too sick to coach one day, so I stayed back at the hotel drinking tea. I was reading and I heard a knock on the door then a familiar voice ring, “Aliciaaa.” I opened the door to Yanti! She made the hour drive from her home in Sentani to our hotel in Jayapura just to check on me! I do not speak Bahasa and she does not speak English, so we communicate via Google translate. She typed, “I miss you very much and heard you are not healthy, so I want to see you.” Then, she offered to get dinner with me, and when I said no she gave me a dragonfruit. If she wasn’t nice enough already she added that she would stay the night at the hotel to take care of me!!! She did not say one word and she exuded so much kindness, compassion, and love. Everyone we meet we can only communicate a little bit, but it is just enough to convey social messages on and off of the field.
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  • Working with the Army in Papua

    29th September 2014. General Eduard greets us at the field at the Kodam XVII jayapura army base overlooking the serene landscape of Cenderiwasih Bay. Down below the stadium seats, a training drill field holds army men, civilian coaches, a marching band and 2 local football youth teams that are suited up and ready to play a short game of futbol following the ceremony. We are treated to cake and pastries, a common Papuan snack during and after training sessions, and we are accompanied by several army chiefs. After joining the men on the field for the opening ceremony, Cenderawasih, a club team coached by some of the coaches we will be working with, played against another local club team.

    This year was CAC’s first time holding a clinic at the Jayapura army base. Thirty nine participants attended; a mix of army and civilians. I was curious to see how they would respond to the self-directed learning approach to coaching as it is a different way of learning than they are accustomed to in their structured lives. The coaches adapted well and were quick to take in information and respond. Although the clinic only ran for 3 days, we were impressed to see their willingness to run the morning school sessions on their own by the third day. I am confident that the coaches have learned enough of the curriculum to start implementing change where they see fit in their communities.

    An area of focus for us in Papua has been smoking and the high rates of HIV/AIDS. Chain smoking in Papua is very common, especially in the military. The smell of burning plastic and cigarette smoke is almost impossible to escape here. One thing I have particularly noticed while traveling through Indonesia is how uninformed people are when it comes to their health. One man told me he smokes to concentrate better, another told me he smokes so he doesn’t fall asleep when driving. Although uninformed about the actual effects of smoking, it is still clear on every cigarette package that smoking kills. Our discussions about smoking always seem to end with Brian and I encouraging them to be good role models by never smoking in front of their players. The message seemed to reach them as many applauded at the end of several discussions. The Adebayor against HIV/AIDS games raised many questions as well. Many of the coaches were parents as well as coaches, which explained why there were a lot of concerns. Our Adebayor games were created to demonstrate how healthy educated decisions can stop the spread of HIV. After a question and answer filled Adebayor session, I am confident that the majority of these coaches will use our Adebayor and health and wellness games with their teams. Since talking about HIV is stigmatized, playing these games are a great way to start the discussion and create a safe space to talk about it.

    The Conflict Resolution games seemed to have a great impact on this group as well. Mingle Mingle and Marta for Conflict Resolution are both energy filled games that they all loved. Both games require quick thinking and problem solving, with incentive not to lose. Marta for Conflict Resolution is a game where 6 teams line up facing each other in a circle. Each player on the team has a different number from 1-6. When your number is called, you run around the front cone, continue around your team and around the circle until you reach your starting position. There are several variations where you can add a ball, call out two numbers at the same time, and give instruction to pick up the ball at the same time. A lot of cheating arises in the game which calls for teachable moments. Coaches learn the significance of teaching their players the difference between cheating and making a mistake and they also learn that in order to solve problems in life, we must communicate and work together.

    It was great to see collaboration between the army, Uni Papua and the local communities. Huge steps can be taken before CAC comes back to Jayapura next year if the army coaches implement the 24 week curriculum into their practice plans and push their players to think independently and solve their own problems. The future of Jayapura looks promising as the coaches have already started to understand self-directed learning after three practice sessions with us and were determined to show us what they learned at the sessions at the schools every morning.

    As I continue to learn about the Papuan culture my appreciation for the people of this country grows. Uni Papua have been so generous and absolutely lovely to work with. Yanti and Kalin in Sentani treated us like family during our 10 short days working with them, and after sharing our last meal with Eduard’s family the night before our departure from Jayapura, we were taken to a karaoke bar. Brian and I sang “Ironic” by Alanis Morisette which was a highlight of my night; but a close second was the the dan-dout traditional Papuan dance performed by Eduard’s wife and daughter.

    Although we only had three days in Jayapura, our work on the field was extremely productive. We worked with a group of bright individuals who are great role models for Papua and I believe they will have a strong influence on Papuas future leaders.
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  • Female Role Models in Sentani

    September 11, 2014.  Sometimes change is hard to see.  We are working for the second year with Uni Papua in Sentani, near the city of Jayapura.  In the past year Uni Papua has grown to four communities surrounding this beautiful tropical lake.  These are communities who have a strong desire to use sport for social impact, who recognize the power of football for social change instead of trying to create top-level footballers.  These are also communities where it is common to take a boat to get to school and where the million plus inhabitant city of Jayapura seems decades away instead of just 50 short kilometers.  It is hard to believe that this vast country of Indonesia can have so many different geographical differences, as well as differences within its population, each coming from distinct tribes and unique islands.

    While it might be easy to focus on some of the social issues that exist in Papua including high HIV rates and tribal conflict, that means you may be missing some of the other positive changes that have occurred since CAC was here last year.

    The most impactful game of the week was Marta for Gender Equity, a scrimmage game with a strong message that has certain coaches sitting out for extended stretches of time.  These substitutes learn what it feels like to be forcibly left-out, simulating the feelings of young girls who are not permitted or encouraged to play.  By the end of the game, the coaches who were not permitted to play were visibly affected, and this lesson can help change their perspective on the right for everyone to play sport, regardless of gender or ability.

    On our final day of coaching, Touska Iba came up to us and said how proud she was that more women attended our trainings this year.   Last year, she was the only female coach (out of 26) and this year there were eight women coaches (out of 54).  Although far from a 50/50 split, it a real progress, from 3.8% up to 14.8%.  This progress demonstratively shows young boys and girls that equality should exist and that equitability is getting better.  We need more positive male and female role models to continue to make real efforts to ensure that gender equity is more than just a statement, and that it becomes a reality.  Hopefully within their lifetime, with the efforts of people like Touska, it will not be strange to see even numbers of boys and girls playing for coaches of either gender.

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  • CAC Takes Papua by Sweat

    October 5, 2013. Coaches Across Continents takes you to the far northeast corner of Papua, Indonesia to the city of Jayapura. Coaches Brian Suskiewicz and Nora Dooley are learning just how big a country Indonesia is, as they land in a region vastly different from the fast-paced, traffic center that was Jakarta. This program marks the first year working with EMSYK Uni Papua, a football club making their presence known throughout the province. Both sides are excited about the future of this promising partnership, as the first week of two (one in Jayapura, one on Biak Island) started us off strong.

    IMG_6970A city teeming with roadside venders selling Beetlenuts, bananas, and local staples like the infamous Martabak, a butter-soaked pancake made savory or sweet with add-ins like chocolate, milk, or cheese, Jayapura sets a rich tone. Previously made well aware of the region’s love for football, Brian and Nora were excited to see it manifest among the coaches and young players at EMSYK.

    IMG_7065After navigating the slender streets and the motorbikes that own the roads, the CAC team along with the wonderfully helpful EMSYK staff, arrived at a pitch wrought from some sacred football legend. A thick grass field enclosed by tall tropical trees, watched over by rolling hills and mountains as if to protect it from taint, welcomed us to the world of football in Papua. The warm tropical air means that you are constantly sweating – but you could not dream up a better place to call the office.

    The week of training saw small numbers for coaches compared to other programs, but they were a good group, eager to learn from our CAC staff. A few hundred Marta and Ronaldo skills later and the week was a great start to our work in Papua. Along with training coaches from eight different clubs in the region, Brian and Nora visited four different schools in the community where they played CAC games, sweat so much it looked like it rained, and had a blast with junior high and high school kids from Jayapura.  CAC can only expect more of the great hospitality, warm welcomes, and passion for football on Biak Island as we continue to build our partnership with EMSYK Uni Papua.

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