Webale Nnyo, Kampala!
June 30th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Kimaya Cole blogged about our partnership with Watoto Wasoka in Kampala, Uganda.
Traveling away from the roosters and fresh fruit in Ndejje, we found our way in the roaring streets of Kampala. Very quickly we learned that once the thick, gray cloud moves overhead and drops a few raindrops, it’s time to run for cover to escape the heavy down pour that will soon be upon us. Fortunately, the storm only lasts about twenty minutes, and despite the newly formed mini mud rivers in the streets, the town resumes their hustle and bustle.
Our partnership with Watoto Wasoka would kick off the first year program in Kampala, Uganda and I was excited and ready to start coaching games on my own. But, I was not prepared for how much of an impact the participants would have on me. While hearing their answers and explanations to one another, I found myself being challenged as well. One woman in particular was very tiny, but her voice was powerful. She was not afraid to stand up for herself and the other few women there, reinforcing that women are just as strong and capable as men. Without even knowing it, she inspired me to have more confidence in my voice and abilities as a woman and encouraged me to take advantage of the opportunities I have as a global citizen to try and make a difference – whether that is in the world or just impacting one person in my community.
I had an amazing, unforgettable time in Uganda as a first time CAC global citizen. Since it was my first time traveling outside of the United States, and especially to a low income economy country, I had no idea what to expect, nothing to compare my experience to. And even after having time to digest my weeks in Uganda, I still cannot fully describe all of my emotions. Besides the periods of no running water and unreliable electricity in our hotel, most importantly, I will miss the people – how they are the real life “energizer bunnies,” never getting tired, always ready for the next task, how they fed me food until I couldn’t possibly take another bite and then proceeded to look at me as if I barely ate anything, and how they welcomed me into their home and country with open arms. I am leaving Uganda with opened eyes, a full stomach, and a happy heart. All I have left to say is: “Webale Nnyo” (Thank you very much)!
The Universal Language
April 5th 2016. CAC Community Impact Coach Charles Otieno blogs about his second week On-Field with CAC in Mbarara, Uganda with Mbarara Sports Academy.
It was a four hour bus ride from the capital city of Kampala to Mbarara, a beautiful town located in the west of Uganda. I liked the environment that the Mbarara Sports Academy created there. Being the second town I visited in Uganda, it was another good experience. I met new people and the fun of it was people speaking a different language from what I speak in Kenya, but we had one thing in common, and that was soccer. Soccer plays a vital role and it made the communication easier, as we all know soccer is a universal language.
The turnout of the five-day training was high and fairly well gender balanced. The active coaches were very interested in playing soccer so we got to play some of our more competitive games this week. It took a while for some of the coaches to realize that you can use soccer to teach on how to combat social issues, but it was impressive to see once they did. The highlight of the week was playing ASK for Choice games with female coaches for two days consecutively. The women were really committed. They arrived early in the morning at a different training field and then continued on with the rest of the coaches in the original site for extra hours of CAC games. The majority of the girls were students in college and were studying in different fields so that they can have as many opportunities as men. They believe that women should have equal opportunities as men and through that, the community will grow economically and socially. They want to be more independent, have more freedom to play sport, to education, to employment, to property ownership, and to make personal choices.
The One World Futbols have played a big role in the On-Field sessions. I have been able use them to train and create a learning environment for young men and women. Having soccer balls is one of the challenges communities face and these ultra-durable balls have been the answer because they last longer and can be played in any type of pitch be it grass field, turf field or dusty field. With the One World Futbol’s being all over the world, it tells us how soccer speaks to people in a language they can all understand.
They say “play with the best and be the best”. I take this opportunity to thank CAC for the great opportunity and also the gentlemen that have been my backbone for the two weeks here in Uganda. It has been great working with David Neaverth, Markus Bensch and Charlie Crawford and I’m happy I managed to grasp some On-Field and Off-Field skills from the team.
One Football…. One Game….One Goal…. One language…. One World.
Soccer Is More Than A Game
It was a long journey from Nairobi to Kampala. I left Nairobi on Friday at 7.30pm only to arrive in Kampala at 10am the next morning. This was my second time in Kampala, but it was my first time traveling internationally with Coaches Across Continents to teach games to coaches. It was an exciting week in Kampala since it meant meeting coaches who were welcoming and eager to learn. Some of them traveled from far to the training venue, only to be part of the training in a dusty field, under the hot sun. Their commitment and hard work really inspired me. I also got a chance to visit the Kampala based CAC partner organization Soccer Without Borders .The organization works in the Nsambya neighborhood of Kampala. Through soccer and educational programming, SWB creates a space for urban refugees from the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Sudan, and Somalia to integrate with their Ugandan peers.
As a CAC Community Impact Coach (CIC) I had the opportunity to engage with more than 20 community coaches who are leading incredible organizations and soccer teams making a difference through sport. Being a CAC Community Impact Coach has really influenced my personal journey in life. What I think makes soccer so incredible is its potential to help change the world outside of professional leagues and international tournaments. Also Coaches Across Continents brings out the picture clearly with the games that we learn, adapt and create. CAC helps grow the game by creating a platform for us to be more creative and come up with games that directly impacts our own communities and the rest of the world.
I felt happier when on one of the training days I got a chance to play a game I had created. It was my highlight of the week and I thank Coaches Across Continents for their Online Education Program that has really shaped me as a CIC and the first hand experience I have gained from working alongside many CAC teams. Football has provided me the self discipline, leadership skills and confidence that continue to shape my life on and off the field. I feel fortunate to be a Community Impact Coach in Kampala. With this role I have been able recognize the power of sport to make a difference, and would like to be defined not only by my knowledge, but by my ability to bring out the best in every partner organization I go to. It is our duty to attempt to make the world a better place than it was when we found it. To realize this dream many of us are happy to go through endless hours of traveling and personal sacrifice. I love soccer but the side of the sport that I love most is one in which success isn’t defined by goals or medals, but instead by community impact and social change.
K is for Kampala
CAC Self-Directed Learning coach Turner Humphries (Hooch) writes about returning to his colleagues at Soccer Without Borders Uganda in Kampala.
April 14th 2015. When I first arrived in Uganda in July of 2013 it was apparent that my name was going to cause many people trouble. For whatever reason my name just did not roll of the tongue well. After introducing myself I would undoubtedly be met with something along the lines of, ‘Nice to meet you Tony.’ Any attempt to correct the error was futile. In fact, even some of my colleagues at Soccer Without Borders (SWB) believed my name to be Tony months after my arrival. Eventually my real name began to take hold and at last ‘Tony’ was a thing of the past, at least I thought. When I started with Coaches Across Continents in 2015 in Haiti ‘Tony’ was resurrected as many of the participants also had trouble saying my name. I have no problem with ‘Tony,’ I’m sure many great people sport the name; I simply prefer not to be one of them. The name Turner came from my parents love for the Tom Hanks classic, ‘Turner & Hooch,’ a film that was somehow snubbed at the Academy Awards. With this knowledge my CAC colleagues declared me Hooch, a nickname that has yet to find a person incapable of its pronunciation. When I returned to Uganda and Soccer Without Borders my nickname was one of many things that had changed. A fresh coat of purple paint covered the classrooms, a new reading room had been built and two female coaches were added to the staff. Most notably that around forty participants received scholarships to private schools.
Soccer Without Borders primarily serves the large urban refugee population in Kampala; providing English instruction, life skills and soccer coaching to around 300 youth. Many of the participants come from the Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The DR Congo is extremely wealthy – and extremely big. Similar in size to Western Europe, it is rich in diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt and zinc. Unfortunately for the people of DR Congo, its resource wealth has rarely been harnessed for their benefit. The amount of wealth has attracted many competing factions including government interests and warlords, and has been the root of many violent clashes and ethnic wars across the countries in the region.
This instability has caused many families to flee into Uganda in pursuit of a better life. Most arrive lacking the English skills necessary to attend school or find work in Uganda. SWB attempts to prepare them by offering three different levels of English classes. Last year I taught the level one English course comprised of around fifty 5-10 year olds, most of whom are learning English for the first time. Walking back into my old classroom I could picture the faces of my students as they puzzled over a difficult vocabulary word or cheered after a board game victory. Undeterred by the numerous hardships they have faced, these children continue to strive to further their education and have an insatiable appetite for knowledge. It was these students that made my time in Uganda so memorable and made my job as a teacher and coach enjoyable.
A special moment for me was seeing my former colleagues demonstrate games they had learned that week to the rest of the coaches. Jules Mayele, the youngest SWB staff member at eighteen years old, confidently stepped up to lead ‘Lines Game.’ This game requires players to think quickly while still working together in groups, awarding teams that develop creative solutions to a problem. With his Crest commercial smile, Jules delivered clear and concise directions that were crucial to the success of the game. Jules began with SWB as a student in English level one. As he developed his English language skills he demonstrated a natural ability to lead. Jules has become an excellent teacher capable of teaching both youth and adults. Before long I have no doubt he will be able to add top flight football coach to his resume.
I enjoyed every second being back in Kampala. Soccer Without Borders and the other Kampala area coaches showed a great desire to continue their education in soccer for social impact. I look forward to seeing more positive changes being made in Kampala next time I find myself in the Pearl of Africa.
Feels Like Home
CAC Self-Directed Learning coach Turner Humphries blogs about our first week in Uganda in 2015 with Ndejje University and his return to the country.
March 30th 2015. I jumped into a matatu, a ubiquitous taxi van, usually crammed with more people than there are seats. From Kampala it was just a short drive to Bombo where Ndejje University is located. It was there that I would be spending the next week with my colleague, Kelly and our Community Impact Coach from Tanzania, Nico. As soon as you escape the big city commotion and chaos of Kampala you find yourself surrounded by a myriad of trees, each with different subtle shades of vibrant green. Despite a harsh dry season the plant life had refused to succumb to the intense equatorial rays of the sun. It was only seven months ago that I had called Uganda my home. I had lived in Kampala for the better part of a year and I never imagined I would be returning so soon. With the sun beaming through the window of the matatu beads of sweat began to form on my forehead, soon I would be fully drenched. The conductor of the vehicle shouted out the route we were taking to potential customers, competing with the blare of hip-hop music blasting through blown out speakers. Careening down the bumpy road narrowly avoiding people driving 100cc motorcycles I could not help but smile; I was most certainly back in Uganda and I was happy.
Our first day working with Ndejje University was reminiscent of a Hollywood movie opening, or at least how I would imagine one to be. Five different media houses were on hand to capture how we integrate various social messages into football games. The Vice Chancellor of the University as well as the Sports Tutor said a few words to kick off our training and expressed their excitement about the future of our partnership together. Around one hundred coaches participated in the first ever program at Ndejje, many of whom were representing outside organizations. Being a year one program we were careful to take time on the basics, the majority of the participants had never heard of football for social impact before, so much attention was given to the fundamentals of our curriculum. One particular moment that highlights our Self-Directed Learning model came when it was time to put everyone into teams for our ‘Ronaldo for Fun’ game. Coach Kelly instructed everyone to organize themselves into six equal teams. The initial reaction from everyone was focused stares on the CAC coaches, as the participants undoubtedly expected to receive more pointed instructions. Realizing that no further directions were coming confusion began to creep in. “But we don’t have bibs!” “How many players in each team?” Shouted many of the participants voicing their frustration. We shrugged our shoulders and told them to solve their problem. As time passed groups of players began to form as they started organizing people into teams based on the color of their shirt. Before long, six equal teams were ready to take the field. Kelly could have easily told the group to get into six teams with twelve players on each. Instead we used the opportunity to allow for participants to work together to arrive at their own solution – creating Self-Directed Learners in the process.
One thing that stood out to me about this program was the genuine openness and curiosity the participants had regarding our sexual health and HIV games. We played a game called ‘Can Adebayor See HIV?’ In this game two teams of players line up facing each other. Players on each team stand close together with their hands behind their backs. Players close their eyes and the coach puts a bottle cap in the hands of one person on each team. In this game the bottle cap represents the HIV virus. Keeping their hands behind their backs, players then open their eyes and take turns guessing who on the other team has the bottle cap, representing HIV. This game serves to show that you cannot tell if a person has HIV by simply looking at them, the only way to know is to get tested together. Many of the participants came up to me during water breaks to ask me further questions regarding HIV. Showing my own ignorance about the disease many of their questions required me to seek out answers on the internet. It was great to see how inquisitive they were about a topic that many people find difficult to speak on.
Our week at Ndejje University encompassed many of the things that make Uganda such a great place to visit: welcoming jovial people, picturesque landscapes, and genuine laughter and smiles despite the hardships faced by many. Many thanks to John Kaddu and the rest of the Ndejje University staff for making our stay so memorable. Webale ssebo!
Kampala: Intercultural Understanding
April 15, 2014. In our 2nd week in Uganda Nora and I [Markus] faced totally different circumstances than in Mbarara, on-field and off-field. We arrived in Kampala on Sunday afternoon and got accommodated in a hotel right next to the US embassy, so we felt safe 🙂 The hotel was simple, but very nice. After one week without running water and a “western” toilet the shower we both took immediately after we arrived felt like a Christmas gift.
In Kampala we cooperate with “Soccer Without Borders” (SWB), an organization that is serving and educating the refugees who live in Kampala and come from all different countries surrounding Uganda. Uganda functions very much like a melting pot for all the people who try to start a new life far away from their war torn home countries. So we worked with coaches from Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda and faced a multicultural setting on the field. Due to these circumstances we needed to translate our games always into a French-Swahili mixture to make them understandable to everybody. But differences in ethnicity don’t cause social exclusion. We experienced a very inclusive atmosphere where people are practicing intercultural understanding day by day.
The coaches responded very well to the Skills for Life games and were excited to practice Ronaldo, Marta and Balotelli skills every day. These activities improve the football skills of the players as well as encourage them to concentrate, communicate and raise awareness for their surroundings. During our sessions we worked also on HIV/AIDS awareness and played “Condom tag”. It’s a simple tag game where the player with the cone represents the HIV-Virus and everybody he/she tags is “infected” with HIV. During the game the rules get adapted and some players represent condoms where the others can rescue themselves from the taggers by standing next to them. That is one of our games that help to start a conversation about good decisions that help us to stay healthy and protect ourselves from getting HIV. After we played some HIV/AIDS education games the participants mentioned the importance of this topic and we had a very fruitful conversation.
I coached this week for the first time 95% football. It went very well and the coaches understood my explanation very quickly. This game doesn’t need a ball. The ball is represented by the player who has his/her hand on their head. The ball can be passed on by shouting the name of a teammate and removing the hand off the head. The other player puts his hand on the head and can score by running through the goal. The ball can be taken away from the possessing team by tagging the player with the ball. The coaches enjoyed this game very much and I was impressed by the fairness of the two teams. Usually the rules have to be adapted, because one or both teams are either positioning their strikers or defenders rights in front of the goal line which makes scoring impossible. Not so much with these teams. 95% football is a brilliant tool to make the players understand that football is 95% smart thinking, quick decision making and constant readiness and only 5% skill on the ball.
On Thursday we had our Child Protection Policy session which caused some very good discussions about different forms of child abuse that are present in this community. For us this time of the week is very important, because children are suffering abuse from their coaches all over the world and children are the most vulnerable members of our society. The awareness of the coaches about the importance of protecting the children rights impressed us. We spoke about one case in particular where one coach asked if it is the girls fault when she got raped after she was dressed up in a mini skirt and sitting with opened legs. In the following discussions we pointed out in the group very clearly that it is never the girl’s fault and that it is the duty of us adults to educate our youth about potential risks and consequences of our behavior.
Friday is usually our coach back day. We didn’t have one last week in Mbarara, because we only had four days due to weather. So it was my first time experiencing how coaches that we worked with for a week adapt and teach CAC games. At the same time it gives us coaches the opportunity to slip into the role of a participant. We get the coaches together in groups of two or three and started with a very creative adaption of “Circle of friends”. We experienced some very advanced versions of Skills for Life games as well as a brilliant adaption of “Adebayor Makes Good Choices”. We hope that all the coaches keep up their good work and be as creative in their daily work as they have been when they were adapting CAC games. We thank SWB for their wonderful hospitality and cooperation and wish them all the best for their future work that their devoted service may help many refugees in Nsambya to find hope and develop their future in a foreign country far away from home.