• Impressions For A Lifetime

    November 6th, 2018. Global Citizen, Moritz Guertler from Germany reflects on his time working with CAC On-Field with Community Partner Uni Papua F.C. throughout Indonesia over the past month! 

    I had the opportunity to be part of the ‘Coaching for Coaches’-team (further including Charlie and Jesse from the US, Frans from West Papua, and Peter from Burkina Faso) in five different locations within Indonesia over four weeks: Jakarta, Lampung Timur, Pekanbaru, Bali, and Tangerang. Since it is close to impossible to put all these impressions into one article, I decided to share with you my list of the most incisive moments and impressions, both, positive and negative:

    • The first and most overwhelming: getting picked up from Jakarta airport on a scooter (two guys, three backpacks) driving through the ultimate Asian urban jungle of vibrant, noisy, and dirty Jakarta, for 1h 30min after a 17-hour trip from Munich via Doha.
    • The most difficult pitch: definitely in Tabanan, Bali – where the pitch was more of a sandpit than anything else with even a road for cars and scooters running THROUGH the pitch.
    • The most beautiful: Lampung’s countryside with jungle and clean rivers we got to swim in.
    • The most surprising: the professionalism of staff and facilities of Tiga Naga Football Academy in Pekanbaru, Sumatra – a far above standard institution for young boys striving for a professional career in football in Indonesia.
    • The strangest: witnessing a trance ritual (called Kuda Lumping; translated to ‘crazy horse’) in Lampung Timur, Sumatra: two women dressed up as animals in wooden masks and a tamer with a whip gave a very intense performance while a repeating series of drums, flute, and spell singing completed a dramatic and vibrant atmosphere, which causes form of trance for members of that ‘cult’. As the intensity and excitement rose among the audience, suddenly, spectators jumped into the circle obviously not being themselves, pretending to be animals crawling through the sand receiving higher spirits into their bodies. At the end of the ritual, the tamer lifts the spirits from the bodies and “brings them back”. They do not remember what happened afterwards.
    • The most disappointing: missing three out of five days program in Bali due to one of Bali’s classics: the ‘Bali belly’ basically not allowing you to leave the bathroom for a couple of days.
    • The happiest: being able to leave the bed again after almost missing out on the whole Bali project.
    • The culinary highlight: definitely Pekanbaru, Sumatra, with its spicy and sweet-sour crab and shrimp, deliciously marinated fish, and the best grilled chicken I had in a very long time.
    • The most nerve-wrecking: the roads between Lampung airport and the village where we coached that hardly deserve any name related to street, road, path or track – more potholes than actual road surface – in the complete darkness of the night.
    • The best project: the last one in Tangerang Seletan, Java, since participants were so creative and fun to work with.
    • The most touching: at the end of the last session in Jakarta, Benjamin, one of the participants, thanked me for the effort and heart I give to his country.
    • The most impressive human being: Coach Frans from West Papua as the eldest of seven kids who volunteered many years for Uni Papua as a coach and, after he became a paid coach, financed his first brother’s university studies until he graduated with a bachelors degree just recently.

    My overall takeaways are the smiles of the people and the fun they had while playing these games. Don’t get me wrong here: I love football and enjoyed it all my life. But for me it was the first time to play games of football where the competition is not at the core like it has been throughout my football career. It is all about the social impact and the fun; and the fun is present every second – always! I definitely understand now better why football is called ‘The Beautiful Game’ – for me personally, football just gained a whole new dimension after these intense weeks.

  • And so it begins…

    September 19th, 2018. Global Citizen Jesse DiLuzio writes about his first country on-field with Coaches Across Continents with Community Partner Reclaim Childhood in Jordan.

    My work with CAC began in Amman, Jordan where I was fortunate enough to work with coaches from a diverse group of countries that included Jordan, Somalia, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria! As part of this process, CAC partnered with a local non-profit called Reclaim Childhood, an organization that works to empower refugee and at-risk women and girls in Jordan through sport and play. This partnership proved to be a fruitful one, and myself, Markus (full-time CAC Coach), and Rose (Community Impact Coach from Lebanon) were very fortunate to work with an incredible group of motivated coaches.

    Over the course of the week, we discussed a number of issues with a focus on rights for refugees and women in society. During these discussions, it became increasingly clear that many of the coaches in front of us were already great leaders in their communities. Haneen Khateeb, a female coach from Amman is one of these examples. Just last year, Haneen broke a world record through her participation in the highest-elevation soccer match ever played. At the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Haneen along with 29 other players representing 22 different countries played the 90 minute match 5,985 meters above sea level. As extraordinary as this feat was both physically and mentally, it is even more incredible when you consider the social impact of her actions. While the women’s football scene in Jordan has been much improved under the leadership of HRH Prince Ali, the role of women in sports has been a controversial topic across the region, where in some places, women are banned from participating in sports altogether. Haneen’s efforts served as an inspiration for thousands of women looking to overcome their obstacles and pursue their dreams.

    Other coaches that we trained also told us about the amazing efforts that they have put forth in order to provide a positive environment for other underserved groups. Muhammad (Yasin) and Paul, two friends from Amman, have effectively created a space in their homes for over one hundred refugees to discuss, challenge, and collectively overcome the many obstacles they face coming from corrupt, war-torn states such as Syria. Not to mention the incredible women who work with Reclaim Childhood throughout the year constantly recruiting underprivileged girls across Jordan to learn and play soccer in a space free from social pressure.  

    While I entered the week eager and enthusiastic to provide and teach all of the things I have learned in 18 years as a soccer player/coach, I found myself doing quite the opposite. There’s a saying in Jordan that “whenever you are full, you can still eat forty more tidbits of food”. While I was always too full to test its validity during meals, I think this spirit was certainly embodied by the coaches that we worked with this week. Despite the fact that all of them had already accomplished incredible things in their communities, none of them were full. They always wanted to learn more, and their enthusiasm was unwavering. I became the listener, the learner, the “trainee”, as the coaches took the games/discussions that we led and took them to new heights. It was a humbling experience, one that put a lot of my previous assumptions about coaching into doubt. 

    Off the field, the experience was quite wonderful as well! The locals in Amman are very hospitable and have warm hearts. They will feed you till you can’t move, talk to you until days end, and are always down for a coffee or two. Must haves for me are Shawarma from Saj’s, Falafel from Chammad’s?, Frike, Labaneh, and Mansaf from anywhere. Petra beer is pretty good as well. 

    It was truly an amazing first week with Coaches Across Continents and I look forward to more travels with the organization!

    Until next time,

    Jesse DiLuzio