• BoyChild Agenda Gets Creative

    March 10th 2016. Our week on the coast of Lake Victoria in Mbita, Kenya was filled with many good, and not only chapati related, things. Among the more memorable, I was given my first official motorcycle driving lesson and did not crash into Lake Victoria. However… our Community Impact Coach, Phelix Aloo, would be the first to point out that I did somewhat stumble off the side of the road in front of a dozen or so perplexed villagers. Still, where’s the learning experience without the mistake? This lake I successfully avoided, the largest in Africa, is an understandable pillar of Mbita’s community. It provides transport, food, water and a certain kind of climate. One of the not-so-positive side effects lies in its power to pull children away from school to spend their days fishing. Fighting for these children’s rights to education is one of the focuses of BoyChild and was one of the biggest issues that we worked on during our week in Mbita.

    Phelix goes on to describe his experience as a returning member of the Coaches Across Continents family.

    “It was a week of much excitement and fun being around the creative minds of the very active coaches that we had for our week working in the community of Mbita. Our host organization, BoyChild, works to link groups in the community together to create space for sustainable development and especially to fight for child rights.

    With us on the field were coaches who brought with them a creative spirit that meshed perfectly with CAC’s idea of Self-Directed Learning.

    On our second to last day of the program we saw our participants creating their own games to address different social issues that they felt were important. It was great and quite astonishing that they had gelled the lessons they had learned through the partnership to making their own games.”

    The creativity of these coaches was even more evident in the support systems they’ve created with their fellow community members. We can’t wait to see how these networks will expand in the years to come.
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  • Uniting NGO Forces in the Fight Against HIV

    June 2, 2014. Picture a lake as large as an ocean. And hills looming like mountains, standing watch over a village. Picture an undiscovered tourist destination, a secret of only few adventurers, and Coaches Across Continents.

    We return to the shores of Lake Victoria, but this time on the other side. Our Kenya programs take us to Homa Bay County, and down a rough road to a village called Mbita. CAC staff member, Nora Dooley is joined by another Community Impact Coach (CIC), David Mulo, from our long-time partner Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP), to train coaches from our new partner, Boychild Agenda International.

    Set on a picturesque field surrounded by mountainous islands, the training focused on introducing the community coaches to football for social impact. The region, and particularly Mbita, has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in Kenya. Often a priority during Year 1 programs, the importance of focusing on the HIV issue became paramount for this week.

    After playing all five Adebayor games from our HIV module, the participants really grabbed hold of our coaching for social impact methods. The discussions that followed each of these games were enlightening as we discussed why the participants believe Mbita to have such a high HIV rate and what they can do as a community to change that. This day of the training was made even more momentous by the arrival of two more CAC coaches. One was another CIC from VAP, Mathew Malusi. He ensured the safe arrival of our volunteer landing mid-week in Nairobi from the United States. Mackenzie Jones joins CAC for the remaining six weeks in Kenya. She just finished her junior year at George Washington University where she plays goalkeeper for the women’s varsity lacrosse team. Alongside classes and lacrosse she has also been running programs for an NGO called The Grassroot Project (TGP) for the past three years. This is an initiative in Washington DC inspired by Grassroot Soccer that has student-athletes from DC colleges teaching urban youth how to protect themselves from HIV/AIDS.

    Mackenzie and Mathew arrived to Mbita just in time for our HIV day, adding great value to the pool of knowledge about HIV prevention. From Nora’s history with Grassroot Soccer (GRS), to VAP’s focus on HIV education in their Nairobi programs as well as their partnership with GRS, and now with Mackenzie’s background in the mix, we had a highly trained team of coaches well-equipped to address the gravity of the HIV epidemic in Mbita. This was a special day for the participants as they learned an entirely new way to confront the issue with CAC’s football for HIV behavior change games. It was also an exciting experience for our coaches as the worlds of CAC and GRS came together alongside VAP and TGP, uniting forces in the ongoing fight against HIV/AIDS on this beautiful field overlooking Lake Victoria. Not a bad week at the office.

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  • Buwaya: By Foot, Matatu, Boda-Boda, and a Boat

    April 22, 2014. Our third week in Uganda brings us back for a third year to a remote community on the shores of Lake Victoria. CAC staff members Nora Dooley and Markus Bensch join long-time CAC partner and friend, Godfrey Mugisha (Moogy) for a week-long training in Buwaya.

    P1030476Every morning our coaches embarked on the journey across the lake from Entebbe, which involved walking, chasing down a matatu (large group taxi), clambering into a wooden motor-boat, and hopping on a boda-boda (motorbike taxi). Upon finally reaching their destination, our team was met by a bumpy, yet beautiful grass pitch set above a sprawling green backcountry. As the program participants trickled in from all directions, One World Futbols were scattered about, completing the perfect CAC picture.

    The coaches who joined the training this week are not of the typical CAC breed, but represent everything that CAC stands for – the desire to make an impact in your community. They are not from an existing NGO, they do not have a formal football academy, they are not government or municipal workers, but they are people, passionate people who love a game and want to learn. We cannot possibly ask for more.

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    We had previously visited this community for two years and a few of this year’s participants were part of those trainings as well. Once we got a feel for the dynamic of the group – knowledge, experience, social issues, and the realities of the resources in Buwaya – we were able to steer the focus of the curriculum in the direction of maximum social impact for this particular group, during this particular week, in this particular community.

    Aside from the usual, worldwide favorites like Mingle Mingle and Condom Tag, this group learned tons of football skills during Ronaldo, Wilshere, Xavi, and Wambach Skills for Life, and had an absolute blast with Touré for Health & Wellness and Falcao for Fun. Touré for Health & Wellness is one of our new games that is quickly becoming a CAC fixture. During this game there are two teams lined up in front of identical grids. The grids are made up of four or five cones – in Buwaya we used four bricks (solve your problem!) – and each cone is assigned a number. The coach yells out a sequence of numbers, maybe starting with two and increasing to four or even five at once, and one player from each team has to touch the cones in that exact order as fast as possible, racing the other player to either an additional cone on the other side of the grid or to one football that they race to shoot. This is a brilliant game for agility and quickness of body and mind – a perfect union of football and social impact, not to mention it’s incredibly fun to play as well as to coach.

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    Falcao for Fun is another terrific new game that we ended up playing for an hour with this group… and our CAC staff jumped in – we couldn’t let the participants have that much fun without us! In this game there are two teams lined up by the “posts” or bricks of two goals that are close together. This was a smaller group so we played 2 v. 2 but it can be played 3 v. 3 or 4 v. 4. If one of the teams scores or if the ball crosses the other team’s end-line, then the shooting team stays and two new players come on with the ball from the side that was shot on. This game is FAST and rewards shooting and quick decisions, as the next two players have to be ready with a ball pending a shot from the opposing team. And the group in Buwaya absolutely ate it up – maybe it’s the answer to African football… stop passing/dancing and SHOOT. Who knows?

    After the program our team stayed the night in tents across the lake instead of returning to Entebbe. A fun experience for our staff, but moreover it was a gesture of friendship and gratitude that was deeply appreciated by the entire community. Although this is a third-year program, CAC will be returning to Uganda and will hopefully be able to fit in a quick matatu/boat/boda-boda adventure to pay a visit to our friends in Buwaya.

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