• 2013: On The Field Review

    1235384_520071574742260_2001433417_nJanuary 2, 2014.  We have a theory that someone at Coaches Across Continents is always awake and working.  Not just because our senior staff resides in the UK, Belgium, Hawaii, and the mainland USA, which spans eleven time zones, but also because we were on the road so often running programs on FOUR CONTINENTS in 2013.  Our staff is often awake at odd hours from jet lag and from constant communication with our 51 PARTNER PROGRAMS in 19 COUNTRIES.  For those of you who are wondering – those countries were (alphabetically): Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Colombia, Haiti, India, Indonesia, Israel, Jamaica, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Namibia, Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe.

    1240558_515175748565176_1430260826_nThe effect of working internationally is the IMPACT we have on individuals, communities, and countries.  Our Sport for Social Impact curriculum CREATES SELF-DIRECTED LEARNERS, enabling the individuals we work with to identify local problems and ultimately solve these issues in a locally relevant manner. By empowering communities CAC is helping to enact positive change on a truly global level. Although we have only completed our fifth year on the field, this year our Hat Trick Initiative taught over 2,100+ COACHES AND COMMUNITY LEADERS.  These coaches and leaders have been working tirelessly throughout the year to impact OVER 162,000 CHILDREN using our Sport for Social Imipact games, and striving to create the next generation of free-thinkers. Our rapidly growing team firmly believes in transcending the boundaries of education laid down by long-standing traditions. We are passionate about learning, we are passionate about football, and we are passionate about combining these forces to redefine the way the world views the education of children and the development of communities. Alongside our incredible partners from the far reaches of the world, we revel in challenging outdated customs, breaking down unjust societal norms, celebrating our rights, and doing it all on the football pitch, whether green grass, field turf, brown dust, or pure concrete, united by our love for the beautiful game.

    IMG_5109As we continue to build on the work we do around the world in sport for social impact and self-directed learning, we remain extremely conscious of PRIORITIZING LOCAL SUSTAINABILITY. In 2013 we launched our COMMUNITY IMPACT COACH (CIC) PROGRAM, which facilitates collaboration among the communities we work in. Leaders from our partner organizations have the opportunity to apply to become a CIC and travel with our teams to other communities within their country, their continent, and even globally. With this program we have witnessed CICs thrive in different environments, out of their comfort zone, where they are able to coach CAC games in settings foreign to their own and gain a greater understanding of the various ways in which sport can be used to educate. Our Community Impact Coaches are not only able to connect with other coaches who share their passion for community development, but are also given the chance to inspire others to become CICs, to travel and learn from different cultures, and return to their own community with greater perspective and knowledge about our shared efforts in the field of sport for development.

    IMG_0557Our first CIC was Coach Nico who worked in Ghana and Tanzania.  He was followed by Community Impact Coaches Charles “Oti” (Kenya), Salim and Godfrey “Moogy” (Uganda), Corrie, Danver and Bulelani (South Africa), and our last CIC was Homkant (India).  These coaches came into their own as ROLE MODELS, enhancing our work on the field far beyond the limits of geography, and we are more than pleased to be able to offer such opportunities to truly amazing leaders. This initiative was a highlight of our 2013 programs, setting the stage for more success, more collaboration, and more participating coaches in the future. In 2014, we hope to have CICs in over half of our partner program countries, starting later this month when we visit Haiti.

    1461455_552087681540649_2024566814_nWhile the CAC “Empire” is always awake and working towards creating sustainable sport for social impact programs globally, we are also aware that our work cannot be done without the 28 COACHES and VOLUNTEERS who spent 17,536 HOURS working ON THE FIELD with communities this past year.  They are the backbone of our organization and allow change to happen on a worldwide scale.  To everyone who traveled with CAC to any one of our 19 countries of operations… THANK YOU!

    We hope that if you are interested you will contact us and volunteer your time in 2014 or support our many other initiatives through personal or corporate efforts.  Have a great 2014 everyone!

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  • Corporate Social Impact at work.

    May 30, 2013.  Coaches Across Continents prides itself on our work with corporate partners.  Recently CAC partnered with Chevrolet and the One World Futbol project.  With their generous support, thousands of One World Futbols were introduced into Liberia this year.  Alongside these Futbols we continued our ongoing Coach Education Training through Soccer Ambassadors.  With all these great groups working together in partnership, the impact on local communities is magnified immensely.  Check out this video for the great work!

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-U5Tx7Kr6s]

    For more information on our Corporate Social Impact Program please contact

    One World Futbol, Chevrolet, and Coaches Across Continents are teaming up to make an impact in Liberia

    One World Futbol, Chevrolet, and Coaches Across Continents are teaming up to make an impact in Liberia

  • Liberia: A Nation Recovering

    March 25, 2013.  Pappie Jones is well-known in Monrovia, Liberia.  That is because he has been here a long time.  He stayed in Monrovia through the worst of the seventeen years of civil wars, taking refuge at the American compound for three years.  And he is still here, throughout the rebuilding process, coaching football.  Pappie runs a group called Soccer Ambassadors for Christ.  They are a group of 90 boys from ages 4-20 who train with his various teams.

    Three great players turned up for this year's training in Liberia!

    Three great players turned up for this year’s training in Liberia!

    Pappie does not focus solely on their development as players or “partial individuals” as he says it.  His training focuses on helping them to become “complete individuals” by learning about three things: Football, Faith, and Education.  It is because he is focused on the complete person that Coaches Across Continents has partnered with Pappie Jones for the past three years.  At his football practices, you can see how much the boys enjoy being there, sacrificing their few Liberian dollars to cover transport to get there.  In addition to football specific drills, Pappie also incorporates at least one CAC game every practice, and in doing so peppering the players with social impact skills throughout their development into citizens of Liberia.  This tutelage, coupled with the advice and mentorship he is providing allow his boys to see in him a father figure worth emulating.

    Over our three years Pappie has also been instrumental in making sure that many different coaches have had access to the CAC trainings.  He has intentionally moved our trainings each year into different communities, allowing the youth coaches in each area to participate and benefit.  This year we worked in West Point, the poorest slum in Liberia.  This year we worked primarily with Division 3 coaches, who typically train teenage boys.  We also discussed a future plan with FODEDE who will be starting (along with the Liberian Football Association) a girls’ school league.  Many of the coaches we trained will be asked to join the fledgling girls’ school league as coaches.  Finally there were coaches from the YMCA which operates nation-wide.

    Juggles Across Continents with One World Futbol!

    Juggles Across Continents with One World Futbol!

    Also providing a massive assist to this year’s training is One World Futbol.  Together with Chevrolet, they have shipped over 5,000 balls into Liberia with a larger shipment arriving in the coming months.  These balls are virtually indestructible, even on tough African fields.  Together with the CAC curriculum, lasting change can take place in the community as coaches now have the equipment to implement our award winning curriculum and allows for more children to participate with the balls.

    It is because of people like Pappie Jones that you can see progress in Liberia, which was a shell of a country after their civil wars.  Even now the 85% unemployment rate is evident, as is the fact that 80% live below the poverty line (established at $1 USD per day).  But in the few years that our CAC coaches have been visiting, you can see progress of a society slowly moving forward.  It is still very much developing, and leaning on the UN and international community, but it is a country that is proudly moving forward from their conflicted past.  And as they continue to develop, they will continue to need the steady mentorship of people like Pappie to guide them through life.

    Learning today about being a Complete Person

    Learning today about being a Complete Person

  • Two special stories from our coaches in Liberia.

    Coaches Across Continents sharing and learning in Liberia

    April 30th, 2012.Coach Brian talks about a special coaching program with the Liberian National Amputee Soccer Team:

    I wanted to share a little personal “This Is Africa” story with you. For me, it is the last day of working for two weeks straight. I am tired, I haven’t had internet for more than two hours in the past week, electricity has been off and on most days, and I want to be able to sleep in past 6:00 AM – but the roosters and dogs won’t let me.
    Now take a look at the photo that I posted on the CAC FB page (www.facebook.com/coachesacrosscontinents) or the ones on this blog. This is the team that I trained today. I was very unsure of myself at the start of practice. It is the first time I have worked with an amputee team. But this team completely made my day, my week, and maybe my month. (It is too early to know if they have made my year).
    This is the first team in Liberia where everyone has shown up completely on-time. Time and time again during practice I saw someone get knocked over, sometimes right on their amputated appendage (I imagine it must hurt a lot). But they had the best attitude of any group I worked with all two weeks. They did not complain, whine, or argue with each other or towards the ref during their inter-squad scrimmage. They just did their jobs and got on with it. For 90 minutes they were dedicated soccer players, and I was just another coach. They are on the team because of their hard work, their attitude towards life and their ability to play soccer.
    This is a special team; the Liberian National Amputee Soccer Team. I say that they are a special team not because of their limitations – but because of their achievements. They are Two-Time African Champions and are headed to the World Cup in Russia in October. It is because of their attitude that they have reached the heights they have.
    You never know when magic is going to happen. Hopefully there will be a special, magical moment somewhere on your trip.
    Coach Addie talks about her first week in Liberia: 
    Liberia isn’t what I expected it to be. The vibrant colors and passion for football are engulfing. With its bustling downtown scene and ocean side football pitches, Monrovia is exceeding my standards. Coaches Across Continents’ presence among Liberian coaches, old and young, has changed my view of what a difference a week can make. The food here is intoxicating with abundant spices and rich oils, it makes you want to stay forever. And without our amazing guide, Pappie Jones, this city would not have lit up the way it did for these three American born coaches.
    Week one in Liberia was productive and eye opening to say the least. Showing up on the first day, walking into the cities’ beloved stadium, I had no idea what to expect. Coaches of Liberian youth teams filtered in a half an hour late and ready to play. Each of our sessions with the coaches became more comfortable and talkative, giving us hope that our messages and lessons will be passed onto eager young footballers. Our goal of teaching the coaches through the lens of “Football for social development” was well underway and this was evidenced by their enthusiasm to help coach and show what they had learned. By the end of the week, with four trainings done, we took pictures and wished them the best in the future and the best for their footballers.
    Liberia has also given me a chance to experience traditional African food. I was not able to eat in Ghana because the food was far too spicy and scary, so when our extraordinary chef, Pappie’s wife, made amazing Liberian dishes, I indulged. The culture of Monrovian people is shown through their hospitality and willingness to show us the ropes. As we ducked and dived through the Rock Spring Valley community I was blown away at the poverty and living situation of local Monrovians. When I entered Pappie’s humble, one room home, it was filled with the smell of rich palm butter and stewed goodness. Nervously I took my first bite and was blown away by the delicious dish that was prepared for us. At home I pride myself on my abilities as a chef, but I could never concoct the deliciousness that I experienced, sitting in plastic chairs inside a bedroom home. I am unbelievably grateful and excited about the chance to eat the local fare, see a local home and become grateful for everything I have, in a quick two hour adventure, with Pappie’s wife being the star of the show.
    Lastly, is our guide and the head of our partner program, Soccer Ambassadors for Christ, Pappie Jones. Up until arriving in

    Coaches Across Continents sharing and learning in Liberia

    Liberia, I had met many people who had lived in Africa, born in Africa and other sorts of locals, but Pappie Jones encompasses the title of a local Monrovian. He is connected with so many people in the football community in Monrovia, and walking the streets of the city with him is like walking around with a mayor of a small town. Although I can hardly understand his accent, his passion for football and Christ are very clear and inspiring. He has organized over 18 sessions in the hope that our message can reach as many people as possible. Besides the football side of business, Pappie has made certain our stay in Liberia has been as comfortable as possible, as well as authentic as possible. Walking to all sorts of football pitches we have walked through community after community, taking what have become Pappie’s “famous shortcuts” through the city of Monrovia. To say the least, Pappie has made our experience exciting, productive and entertaining. We hope that he will continue our message with coaches and players long after our two weeks are over.

  • Week 2 in Liberia – Schools, Trainings, Orphanage, Churches, Wedding and Lots More!

    IMG_1750Every day in Liberia began with waiting to be picked up by Pappie Jones at the Christian guesthouse where we were staying for the two weeks. We quickly learned that it was hard to plan the exact time and date of our program, meetings with officials and trainings. In order to get anywhere in Liberia we normally walked, rode in a taxi with four other guests and then jumped on the back of a motorbike. I understood that transportation robbed the majority of one’s day, however, it also offered Jaren and I an opportunity to see many of the communities in Monrovia. Aside from working with the coaches and players, it was my favorite part of the day- walking behind Pappie, smiling to people, saying hello to young children who often said “footballers” as we walked by.

    Nancy Sheppard who ran the Christian guesthouse where she and her family lived, welcomed us graciously on the first day and we soon noted that it would be hard to get her undivided attention, as she was either preoccupied by guests or her recently adopted and amazingly energetic Liberian son. As a departing gift, she gave us a book that she wrote about her and her family’s life while living as missionaries in Liberia and in Ivory Coast. Still trying to take in as much information as I could grasp about Liberia, I literally engulfed the words of the book and little by little was gaining a clearer picture of Liberia’s recent history, the majority of which were years of war and mass killings and recent years of rebuilding. It was also very interesting for me because it touched on the Christian faith that manifest in the thousands of churchesin Monrovia.

    Jaren and Pappie attending a local weddingEverywhere we went people spoke about the Civil War- from football coaches to church leaders to the security guard who watched the compound. Everyone seemed to have their own opinions about the past and to my surprise many seemed to share and express a common vision for moving forward that hinged on peace, progress and development. Having a woman president who has focused on improving the lives of women in her country and who has heavily relied on the support of the many women’s groups, it became commonplace to hear on the radio words of encouragement for women to get involved and stand up for themselves, as well as signs everywhere that reminded citizens that women are important contributing members of the Liberian society.

    Womens team with their coaching certificatesDespite all the apparent support for women, the only female team that we trained relayed to us their frustrations about the lack of support- financial and emotional- that they were receiving from the country. Many of the players were on the Liberian national team and yet despite reaching these heights, were forced to pay for their own expenses to get to trainings and rarely received any compensation. It was difficult to conjure a response when the footballers asked me my opinion about what they could do to procure more support. My response was to encourage them to continue to play and if they have the passion for the sport, it will shine through to their communities. They needed to think about the many young female footballers that were looking up to them to show them the way. Jaren and I often spoke about the recent research that shows that female athletes have healthier bodies, perform better in work and have better salaries. In terms of their families, female athletes normally have healthier children. Although that research focuses mainly on the western countries, I believe that it will eventually be shown in all countries where girls and women are allowed to play.

    Children at OrphanageApart from this training we also ventured a little further outside of Monrovia to bring our CAC games to children at an orphanage where Pappie often volunteers. Many of these children have lost parents due to the civil war, or have parents that are alive but unable to provide for their children. It was amazing to see the smiles on these children’s faces when after changing into their uniforms- many were more like dresses- they were ready to play. The youth ranged from 4-16 year olds and it was inspiring to see the older kids act as natural leaders among the groups. In comparison to the trainings at the schools, I was amazed at the calmness of the group, and some children moved very timidly through the motions. I can’t even imagine the hardships that these children have already endured at such a young age.

    Normally, upon return to the house, Pappie sat around with Jaren and I before he returned home. One of these nights, Pappie opened up to us and answered many of my questions that were floating unanswered in my head. He explained to us about his situation in the war, staying with some of his family near the American Embassy, the countless days of surviving only on water, the many deaths he witnessed and the process of rebuilding the country after the war. As part of rebuilding the country, guns had to be turned in by former soldiers, and youth who were involved in the war had to be reintegrated into society. These stories of reintegration are what personally shocked me the most. He explained how even if someone had been a soldier and had killed countless people during the war, he still had to be reunited into the community, or else there was no way that the country could move forward. He bluntly affirmed that Liberians have an incredible ability to forgive one for their actions in the past, and to keep the past behind them in order to move forward. He explained that when younger people today even mention violence or the idea of another civil war, any Liberian in earshot immediately shuts them down. Nobody wants to go through a civil war again, nobody. Pappie is working daily to rebuild the youth of his country and uses soccer and religion to reach youth, unite them and teach them life skills that will enable them to move forward. He is a coach in many senses of the word, not just on the pitch, but also in the church, in the classroom and in the streets of his communities.

  • Our Year 1 Hat-Trick Initiative in Monrovia, Liberia.

    October 31st, 2011 from Marisa in Liberia:

    The night before Jaren and I headed to Monrovia, Liberia I was watching the news in my room and saw that Liberia had closed their borders with neighboring countries, due to the elections. Of course hearing this didn’t provide much comfort, but Jaren and I knew that we had a lot of work to accomplish in Liberia. Personally I wasn’t sure what to expect when getting off the plane in Monrovia. I had recently watched a documentary about Liberia that told the story of the recently awarded Nobel Prize winner, Leymah Gbowee. I had read bits and pieces about the history of the country, focusing mainly on the civil war that recently ended in 2003.

    Walking out of the airport and seeing the bright sign with the words “Coaches Across Continents” being held by Pappie Jones was a great sign as to what to expect from the partnership between CAC and Soccer Ambassadors for Christ.

    On the first day Pappie took us around Monrovia to the different fields where we would be training the coaches and players. Despite the beautiful ocean in the distant, the palm trees and green vegetation, it was difficult to walk through the streets and witness the houses and buildings, the trash all over the place and the sad faces of many of the Liberian people. Pappie took us to a slum called West Point, where we will be hosting a training next week with coaches from the community, and as we walked through the small and crowded streets of this community, I tried to pay attention to the path ahead of me, instead of my immediate surroundings. I felt like an intruder as I glanced into the lives of the people in this community as women sat selling oranges or breast feeding their young children, children bathed in buckets, kids played with tires, men huddled around watching football matches and everywhere I looked there was constant activity. When we walk through these communities with Pappie, Jaren and I are always a step behind him, and in that distance I have been able to see how much respect he has from his fellow Liberians. Men, women, children, young and old call out to him as we walk by, and often we hear “coach” being yelled from unexpected places. We have been introduced to countless friends, coaches and family members that all greet us warmly and welcome us to their country.

    In continuing with what we started in Ghana, I have chosen three moments that will help explain more about the partnership between CAC and Soccer Ambassadors for Christ in Liberia.

    1.     Trainings with the small group of coaches– We have held two trainings with coaches this past week, one with about 30 coaches and the other with 7 coaches. It has been interesting to adapt the games in order to fit the group size. The group of 7 coaches was the most pleasant group of coaches I have ever worked with because they wanted to learn as much as possible in the allotted time. We were challenged a bit having smaller numbers when we showed several of the HIV prevention games, for example, Can you see HIV which is better explained with larger numbers. After the trainings we had time to talk with the coaches to learn more about Liberia and it became apparent that there is not much support for soccer here in Liberia, even though it is played everywhere you look.
    2. Meeting Pappies sister in law, Ramona Jones gave me a lot of insight into Liberia. She is a very well educated, articulate woman who has traveled around the world and is inspired to bring sustainable change to her community. As we sat on the stoop outside her church I asked her whether the group of kids leaving the church were her children. Her immediate response was that she is a mother to 115 kids. She proceeded to tell us about her multiple roles in her community; principal, director of an orphanage, mother, student and wife. She was the first person we met to really explain to us about the civil war that tore her country apart for 14 years. She reminded us that when working with the youth, who represent the majority in Liberia, we had to always take into consideration the effects of the war on the child. It was an enlightening discussion as I learned that many young females here do not express themselves emotionally because many were raped during the war while many young males have turned to drugs and alcohol to help ease the pain of the war. The female population in Liberia tends to accept that life is just going to be hard and that change is out of reach for them. Ramona was determined to bring change to her community and was delighted that we wanted to help bring this change.
    3.      Working with the children in public schools and in communities – Our trainings at the school couldn’t have been any more different than the trainings we have had with the coaches. When we enter the schools or local communities with a bag full of balls and people realize we are here to teach football, the whole place erupts with joy. Jaren and I couldn’t stop smiling yesterday when the kids were jumping up and down even before the introduction or training had begun. Every kid always wants to participate so we have found that the easiest is to focus on the simple games, like Circle of Friends, Marta skills, Head/Catch and Ronaldo revolution. With large numbers we feel that it has been the most effective if we can get the kids moving and then talk to them about the importance of drinking water, keeping their bodies healthy and avoiding harmful substances. Again, it has been encouraging that we can take the CAC curriculum and adapt it to all types of situations. We can make it work for everyone and as we leave the field, we have heard many of the children yelling- Ronaldo 1, Marta 2, etc. Yesterday I got a chance to work with all the female students at the C.D.B King Elementary School and know that for most of them it was the first time they had ever seen a female footballer. I asked them if anyone had ever watched Marta or even the World Cup and I got blank stares. I noted that when doing the different games many were very shy and even afraid of trying a simple movement, like a shuffle. I hope that the training gave them a bit more confidence and that I encouraged them to try new things.

    Jaren and I are looking forward to the weekend, which will include teaching soccer at several orphanages, going to church with Pappie and his family and enjoying the beach. Next week we will be entering new communities, meeting new coaches and working with new students. I look forward to what lies ahead.