• The CAC Partner Experience

    August 5th 2016. Kebby Shampongo, founder of CAC partner Malalo Sports Foundation, discusses the impact of the partnership on Malalo and the communities they serve in the Copperbelt of Zambia.

    Coach’  – I usually go by Rubén-
    – Yes?
    -‘Could I rest a little bit today before we start?
    -No problem. Everything OK? – He had sleepy eyes and a pale face.
    – I worked the night shift at the mine, but I wanted to come!

    Some of us just continue yielding, happy and without resistance, to the gravitational power of the Ball. After a week full of great commitment gestures and deep and transforming learning in Chingola, Zambia, we talked to our friends of Malalo Sports, a Sports for Social Impact Organization based in Chililabombwe, to discover together how their unique Pathway with CAC will look. With their vision set on evolution and reaching youth nationwide, they shared with us how their work, in partnership with CAC, has impacted the communities of Chililabombwe and Chingola, where they currently focus their operations:

    “The Malalo Sports Foundation has significantly improved in using sports for social change in Chililabombwe and Chingola. It has been three years of great partnership with CAC and Malalo Sports Foundation. Before the partnership with Coaches Across Continents, as a coach and Director of the Foundation, I could not figure out how we could meet the challenges that our young people were facing such as:

    1. Alcohol Abuse
    2. Environmental challenges (trash-Bottles and plastics)
    3. Conflict.

    I have been coaching for years before becoming an administrator. Some of my players play football for local professional teams and international teams across Africa. However some of the boys and girls would not attain the highest level of sporting, moral excellence and community leadership. The partnership with CAC three years ago came at the right time as Malalo Sports Foundation (MSF) collaborates with over 75 coaches from the two communities to use football as a tool for social change. The collaboration has impacted over 5,000 children and young people in our communities. The community leaders and coaches now have been able to deliver the CAC curriculum to the communities and children. We have seen a drastic reduction in the abuse of alcohol, coaches are able to create a safe working environment for the children while internal sporting/community conflicts are being solved by the participants (children and youths). Coaches and teams from local organizations and schools have appealed to our leadership to work closely with CAC and devise innovative ways on how we can replicate this model to other communities.

    It has been a great experience for us to learn from CAC staff and volunteers drawn from diverse backgrounds and cultures over the last three years and we would recommend that we explore future collaborations. We believe sustained relationship with CAC shall highly benefit the people of Zambia . I would also like to salute you for your constant engagement and support. We at MSF have a lot of room to learn and improve even from other communities that CAC serve globally.

    I would also like to salute my team (Able Chewe and Philimon Chitalu) for their tireless efforts despite running on a shoe string budget.

    Sporting wishes to you all.

    Love, peace and harmony”

    We not only desire that they manifest all of their intentions and achieve their goals, but CAC will walk next to them, mentoring, facilitating and serving their purpose.
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  • Three Cheers for Avocados

    July 27, 2014. CAC volunteer Layla Joudeh blogs on working in Zambia.  After walking into our hotel in Chingola, Zambia, I quickly learned that hotel doesn’t mean working toilets, sinks, or showers. Trying to use a water source in the hotel was like a fun game of “guess whether this bathroom appliance will work today” except our personal hygiene was at stake- so more like a smelly, not so fun guessing game. Fortunately for us and everyone within a 5 ft radius of us, our sink worked fairly regularly and the shower would come through at least every other day. And so began my fifth week in southern Africa.

    The work week began on a sunny Monday morning (shout out to the dry season for all this wonderful sunshine). Kebby and Able, our hosts from Malalo Sports, were in the taxi that picked us up from the hotel, and we were off to the soccer field. We worked with Kebby and his friend Able for the two weeks we were in northern Zambia. Kebby and Able were excited to have us working in their community and wanted us to feel at home. They arranged all our transportation, organized participants and venues, and paid attention to the details. And the small details they paid attention made all the difference for me. For one, they always made sure we were hydrated with sweet Zambian water. I mean who doesn’t like to have a steady supply of water while coaching? But Kebby and Able went beyond hydration- they actually were getting to know us on a personal level. There was one day during the week when I didn’t feel too well. I didn’t think much of it and planned to sleep it off the following night. I was carrying on a conversation with Kebby on that same day, and he stopped the conversation to ask if I was feeling alright. It was such a simple question that made me want to give Kebby a huge hug. After meeting so many different people in the past few weeks, it was unbelievably comforting to know that Kebby had taken the time to pay attention to the people with which he was working regardless of the number of participants he had to help organize.

    With partners like Kebby and Able looking out for us, it was much easier to focus on coaching. Working with Adam, Charlie, Jamie, and Tim is a whole lot of fun. There was a perfect balance of planning ahead and improvising, making fun of me and making fun of Adam, working together and giving each other the space to lead our own games. We bonded well which helped contribute to my comfort as a coach. Our teamwork on the field made my job a bit easier and more effective. I was more confident because of the three previous weeks of coaching, and I was more familiar with the CAC curriculum. Turns out- coaching is really fun when I actually had a solid grasp on what I was doing.

    You know what else is fun? Eating. Meal time was one of my favorite parts of the week. Adam, Charlie, Jamie, Tim, and I usually ate lunch and dinner together. We discovered that we had easy access to avocado or as Jamie calls it- nature’s butter. So lunch and often dinner consisted of avocado and cheese. Something as simple as an avocado made me look forward to lunch and sitting around a little table while cats watched us eat. We often ended up mentioning ice cream in our conversation. Our ice cream conversations led us to have an ice cream party on Thursday night. We bought a tub of ice cream and five spoons then gathered in Tim and Jamie’s room. I still can’t decide if the ice cream was good because we really wanted it to be good or because it was actually quality ice cream. Either way- huge thanks to ice cream for being awesome.

    Speaking of awesome….we even had good wifi in Chingola. In my last blog post, I was thanking my lack of wifi for helping me connect with my environment. However, five weeks of being away from home made wifi a sweet, sweet cure to the homesickness that was creeping in. Contrary to my first week with CAC, I used wifi to share my new experiences rather than stay connected to everything that was happening with friends and family back at home. This change in my internet usage was a subtle reminder that with time, I was becoming more and more comfortable with my environment. As my last blog post predicted (however doubtful I was when I wrote it)- the adventure with CAC has continued and I’ve learned a thing or two. For one- Jamie is right- avocados are nature’s butter. The second thing I’ve learned (because clearly I’ve only learned two things on this trip)- my fellow coaches and our partner programs can make me feel at home even when home is hours away.

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  • Panono Panono

    July 13th 2014. CAC coach Jamie Wheaton blogs on his first week coaching with CAC in Zambia.

    I blinked to clear my eyes of the sun as I stepped from the van that had carried us to the pitch. The words “Konkola Mine Police” emblazoned on the side had caused some confused glances as we traveled through the market place. Perhaps the locals thought we were new recruits. While the thought of playing in the Zambian league was an entertaining one, I found it hard to laugh due to the amount of butterflies in my stomach. I thought that I was prepared: I had read the field guide, reviewed the games that we would be teaching (if you count frantically checking through half-scribbled notes written 15 minutes before departure as “review”) and rehearsed in my mind possible questions that would be asked of me. I hoped I was fully prepared to be a productive member of a team, all of whom had more experience than me: thus began my first day as a coach.

    I needn’t have worried. My team members immediately went to work. After waiting the customary 45 minutes for an appropriate amount of people to arrive (the grace period we affectionately refer to as “Africa time”) we began with quick introductions and a brief description of what the following week would entail. Faced with a crowd of 30 or so adult coaches, some of whom had played at a professional level, I felt a moment of self doubt: who was I to teach them about social issues? Some of the men were twice my age! I quickly realized however, that I had much to teach them, and they to teach me.

    We worked with a great group: all of them were eager to learn, quick to laugh, and quick to focus again. While there was a brief language barrier, (particularly noticeable during the preliminary questions, where one coach would raise his or her hand and those in the area would immediately copy his example) this was quickly solved by having one of the coaches with more fluent English translate our more complex and lengthy lessons to Bemba, the local language. I learned some of the more basic phrases in Bemba, which might make for a good party trick later on. For example, I learned how to count to four (camo, tubide, tutatu, tune) how to say “slowly” (panono panono!) and “stop” (lakeni!). These phrases made themselves useful in the games we played that day. We started off with the basics, as this was a first year program. “Circle of friends” proved itself to be an excellent warm up, and always started off the day for the whole week. It was especially rewarding to watch the coaches come up with their own variations of the exercise towards the end of the week.

    While teaching the coaches our games in the morning was entertaining and interesting, my favorite part of the week was always in the afternoon. After taking a quick lunch break after the morning session (some sort of meat wrapped in a pastry, every day) we would head over to a local field and work with the children and watch their coaches use the skills we taught them that day. These sections really highlighted the difference between the community in Chililabombwe and at home.  In spite of the fact that they were playing on a bumpy pitch made of dirt and dust, the kids’ interest and excitement was contagious. While we introduced the older kids (14-17, usually) to the wonders of Circle of Friends and Ronaldo skills, a crowd of little ones would watch our every move. When I found the opportunity, I always tried to spend some time with them. Constantly giggling, the young children could be entertained for an hour simply by making different faces, or mimicking an animal. My single favorite moment of the entire week was taking requests of different animals to imitate: my repertoire quickly expanded to include monkeys, elephants, lions, warthogs, and snakes, which gave my teammate Layla quite the fright. I could stand there for hours keeping these kids laughing, and I would have too, if the bus hadn’t had to leave. However, there was also a side that was a little bit frightening: if they noticed something happening, they all surged towards us. Having 40 screaming kids storming towards you, all of them looking for a high five, would make anyone a little nervous. For the most part, they were content to laugh.

    Overall, the most impressive part of the week was seeing how much fun the kids had. Their infectious attitude of hope and excitement quickly spread to my teammates and I. In a town where 75% of the population ends up working in the local mine, the students were quick to tell us of their aspirations of becoming a doctor, or a professional footballer. They had us laughing at their crazy dances, which they all seemed to know. Most of all, they attacked all the new games with an enthusiasm that I had never seen before, which inspired me to stand up to their expectations of excellence.

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