This is Sierra Leone!
May 31st 2017. CAC’s Jordan Stephenson wrote about his experience in Freetown, Sierra Leone working with our fantastic partner Street Soccer Foundation, Sierra Leone.
The first thing you notice when arriving in Sierra Leone is that it is an adventurous nation! From walking off the plane and getting hit with a wall of heat – you know you’ve landed in the right place! The great thing about arriving in Freetown is that you need to take 3 modes of transport to get there: once arriving at the airport you take a short bus journey to the beach and from there you get on a boat which travels for 30 minutes across the ocean into Freetown! Being a Newcastle United supporter, when arriving at the hotel I immediate was caught up in a debate about who Rafa Benitez should be bringing in next season following our promotion to the Premier League, from then I knew this was a nation of sport lovers! Therefore it seems like an appropriate place to be doing our line of work…
The training consisted of 100 community coaches and Physical Education teachers from all across the country who’s passion and love of sport exemplified the spirit of the nation. We were lucky enough to have the training in the National Football Stadium, and although the pitch wasn’t what you’d expect to be an international venue to be like, it provided a wonderful amphitheater for the weeks training.
Mr Abu Johnson, CEO of Street Soccer Foundation highlighted that “this is the first time that the people of Sierra Leone are having training on a national level to cultivate the energy of change agents to create long term sustainable change through sport”. I certainly felt like it was very important to the nation as we were greeted with journalists from TV and radio who wanted to know what we were trying to achieve and how we’re trying to achieve it – that even meant sitting watching myself on TV and on the radio!
The training itself was a huge success as we explored the ways that the communities in Sierra Leone can embrace sport as an essential vehicle to achieve strong development goals, with an important aspect being one of including community elders and village chiefs within discussions and programs, especially so they can see the value of education through sport as that is something they never experienced growing up.
A stand out memory for me was a discussion about the number of children people had across Sierra Leone and the impact that has on communities. It was said that in urban communities, like Freetown, it is more beneficial to have less children as it costs more to feed children and it becomes harder for families to send their children to school due to tuition fees; whereas in remote parts of the community, children are seen as assets to the family as they can be used as labor to harvest food, farming and for street traders in order to bring in more income to the family, at the expense of a quality education.
Looking forward at the three year partnership we have with Street Soccer Foundation, it is very exciting to see how the 100 participants are continuing to be supported and that more community legacies can be created through sport. Street Soccer Foundation are working tirelessly to continue to engage stakeholders such as Sierra Leone Football Association, Ministry of Sport and Ministry of Education in order to have a country wide effort to tackling social change through sport.
And to all of the people of the peaceful nation of Sierra Leone.. Thank you!
Fueling A Social Change Warrior In Zimbabwe
May 26, 2017. Community Impact Coaches Shingirirai and Dorothy write about their week working with CAC, coaching the SLIZ program in Harare, Zimbabwe.
This was a week where we took the classroom to the comfort of the playing field. I did not only facilitate, teach and instruct, but had the opportunity to learn as well from the community of teachers and sports people. Coaches Across Continents did not only empower me with sports drills, but created a budding hero, and fueled the warrior in me to be a game changer back in the community and beyond. It equipped me with the broadening of my horizon to discover that there are lessons through sports which can be picked even during times of struggle.
I have come to the realization that sport is not only about competition, improving speed and winning, but also empowerment through knowledge of life skills. I have been trained to teach, not only the youth, but adults too. I am inspired to become a point person in my community and beyond, to provide a series of education even after the attachment. Coaches Across Continents have invested in me authority to solve problems, challenges, and conflicts through sports. It was so inspiring to create games of my own.
It was a really great experience to have CAC in Zimbabwe. Being a coach who is mainly involved in football for competition, I never thought of football as a way to change lives, and create skills as a way to make an impact in people’s livelihood. CAC taught me how I can use sport coaching to implement character building, self-confidence, fight diseases, amongst a host of life changing games which work in our day to day realities.
Also, the planning phase before working, and evaluation of work done was very educational. Working with CAC benefited me a lot in execution of work, planning, and group motivation as a facilitator. The exposure was worth it. I really feel empowered that I have been given this opportunity by CAC as a female. This shows that women can be leaders and that the sky is the limit. Working the program was fun, I benefited a lot, and it was an amazing experience. My wish the next time CAC comes is that it will encompass those coaches in the remote areas, especially to promote the girl children and to empower them to be future leaders. Thumbs up to CAC for the amazing job they do across continents. It was an honor to work with Em and Ash, they were very fun and social people that left me richer with knowledge and life changing games.
Putting Words Into Action
November 21st. CAC Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo described his experiences working with IDYDC in Iringa, Tanzania.
The city of Iringa is fortunate enough to have a FIFA-sponsored turf field nestled into one of the rocky ridges surrounding the town, where young men from the area gather for a 6 v 6 match every morning. They play without keepers so instead you must hit either goalpost to score, and they rotate 3-4 teams if there enough players. The games are fast paced and can feature some incredibly precise finishing ability. Those not playing lounge on the side wall overlooking the neighborhood on the slope below, where the equatorial sun glimmers off the tin roofs of the buildings. As the games run, other young men filter through to watch and chat with their friends on the sideline, before all pack up to go their separate ways for the day. It is an enviable morning routine; a smooth blend of exercise, community, and scenic beauty – pleasures of life that anyone could appreciate having combined on a daily basis.
The same sense of community was shared through our daily sessions at this field with local volunteers for the Iringa Development of Youth, Disabled, and Children Care (IDYDC). All of the participants in our program were passionate about improving their programs for children, for which they volunteered as coaches, teachers and mentors for young people in the area. At midmorning every day, the group took a long break, where a few women of IDYDC brought tea and a few breakfast treats for everyone to enjoy. For about a half hour each morning, the participants, men and women who ranged in age from 19 to 59, socialized together over the meal. On the field, the group was congenial and enthusiastic. Throughout the week, it was clear that not only were they already familiar with each other through their work with IDYDC and enjoyed working together, they also shared the same passion for improving their own coaching skills and their local programs. It was inspiring to see their shared commitment to the larger work of their organization, and even more so to observe their openness to new ideas and willingness to engage with the issues in Iringa.
On Monday, as participants made teams for one of the games, there was audible clamor for gender equality on the teams. I hadn’t expected such a deliberate effort or even awareness of the gender inequality that plagues most of the world, and was impressed to see that this was on their radar. Their effort indicated some previous exposure to and willingness to accept such progressive ideas, which seemed to be an encouraging sign for the week’s program. But did the reality of the society in their community reflect the ideas they seemed to support during the program? Who played in the local pick-up games every morning? Men. Why are there no women playing football in the morning? Because they were working in the fields instead. While 20-30 men and boys gathered to play on a daily basis – many of them just loitering near the field – the adjacent land had several women, some of whom appeared to be beyond child-rearing years, toiling away watering and picking crops. Of course, while this one anecdotal scenario does not unequivocally prove inequality between men and women, it is a dramatic example of the disparity that our programs work to bring to the attention of the participants.
Indeed, just a short time after the participants so nobly divided into equal teams of men and women, the coaches noticed that men were often taking control of the game and in some instances preventing women from participating in it as fully. During the partner scrimmage game (a normal football game where each “player” on the team is actually a pair of people holding hands), Nick made an example out of one couple (conscientiously arranged to be male and female) where the man denied the woman an opportunity to take a free kick. When he pointed out that their on-field actions did not reflect the ideals of gender equality they had been so vociferous about when making teams, there was a collective moment of consideration, especially among the men. The women too, seemed slightly surprised to have that incongruity called out, but quickly afterward seemed empowered to have some backing to their very real concerns about inequality. Through a series of conversations that week, we discovered some of the intricacies of the gender imbalance in Iringa, and discovered the participants’ collective willingness to address these issues. But at various other moments throughout the week, coaches pointed out instances of participant’s actions and choices that, without noticing it themselves, undermined their stated ideals of gender equality. For several of the men, some of these comments seemed to prompt them to consider how actions and attitudes in their everyday lives were unwittingly promoting very traditional gender roles, and it was exciting to watch them think through how they could make different choices every day that would contribute to a better environment for women in their community. Though the path to complete gender parity in Iringa is long and difficult, the participants’ collective willingness to acknowledge the issue and their efforts to better understand the changes they could make to address it are encouraging signs that seem to show that IDYDC volunteers will be able to have an even stronger impact on their community. I believe that someday, there will be girls playing with the men in the early morning pick-up games in Iringa, and our CAC program there this past week will have been one of many conversations and steps along the way that gradually brought about change in the community.
PILLARS OF SOCIAL CHANGE
September 7th 2016. Community Impact Coach Paul Lwanga blogged about working with CAC and FHPU Enterprise in Kigali, Rwanda.
Coaches Across Continents, in conjunction with Football For Hope and Unity [FHPU], conducted a wonderful training program for community coaches in Kigali. 23 coaches from Kigali turned up for training from the 22nd to the 26th of August 2016. Coach Markus Bensch was in charge of the training. He was assisted by Coach Nico Achimpota, CIC from Tanzania, and Lwanga Paul, a CIC based in Rwanda.
It was exciting to work as a CIC in a new community and the games implemented increased my understanding and that of all the participants. The social messages covered a wide range of issues namely; Child Rights, Health and Wellness, Gender Equality, Life Skills, Drugs and Alcohol Abuse, Problem-Solving, team-building, Environmental Awareness, and Social Inclusion, while pointing out role models like Neymar and Mia Hamm,
The training also offered opportunities to all participants to observe other coaches coaching. What inspired me the most was how coach Markus create fun education through play and added more playing time with less talking. He also made the players feel the challenge and social message as they played different games.
The fun and energy from all the participants was exceptional to me. I am indeed privileged to have worked with all of the coaches in Kigali. They were so innovative and creative especially when they coached CAC games or their own adopted games. The CAC team offered guidance and feedback which will help spread the CAC message across different communities here in Kigali.
Many community coaches were whispering to me that IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE and all CAC games can offer new energy and will to coach social change through football.
Jenny From the Block Tackles South Africa
July 25th. Volunteer Jenifer Anzivino writes about experiencing CAC and South Africa for the first time with Red Cross in Limpopo.
There are two type of people in this world, the dreamers and doers. I grew up playing soccer my entire life and traveling all over the US. Once I was done with playing I knew I wanted to stay involved in the game so I started coaching. Personally, I am not one to just make rash decisions but once I heard about CAC I immediately thought this was an amazing opportunity to do the two things I love – coach and teach with a bonus of being able to travel. Without sitting there and analyzing the opportunity I immediately reached out to get involved. A few weeks later I got my destination, South Africa.
July 8th I arrived at a hostel to meet up with the coaches I would be working with for the next 3 weeks. They had just arrived after spending 3 weeks in Cameroon. Within 24 hours of meeting Charlie and Leah I knew the week was going to be one to remember after getting a nice “love tap” on my forward for being the last one to put my thumb to my forehead after a burp (to be honest, I still lose at the game every time so I end up slapping my own forehead).
That first night we met up with the Red Cross in Limpopo to have dinner and discuss the week ahead. The people from the Red Cross could not be any more welcoming and grateful for CAC returning for the third year. There were a ton of laughs that night getting to know everyone.
From that dinner the laughs never really stopped On and Off the field. We had such an amazing, exciting, appreciative group of coaches to work with. The age of the coaches was a huge range but each could not be more eager to learn and become great coaches and role models in their community that faced a large number of challenges. We also got the opportunity to play against some of the staff from the Red Cross which was amazing. As the sun went down we stayed and played 5v5 (CAC WON), even though the next day the three of us struggled to walk from being so sore! As the week wound down and the realization hit that we would be leaving these amazing people, our last day was honestly an emotional one. One of the female coaches could not contain her emotions that the program was over, a contagious feeling. At that moment it truly clicked that all our work, games, laughs, and educational messages were genuinely valued. I can not thank our participants and the Red Cross in Limpopo for making my first trip with CAC one I will never forget in South Africa.
On Martabak and Football
May 10th 2016. Community Impact Coach Patrina Caceres, from our partners Football for Life in the Philippines, discussed working with CAC and Uni Papua in Indonesia.
Last February, when I learned from my supervisor at the Football for Life (F4L) program that I have been assigned for a coaching stint as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) in Jakarta by Coaches Across Continents (CAC), I was at a loss for words. I almost screamed at the coffee shop and tears collected in my eyes. That was the best news that I have received since starting as a football for social impact coach in 2014. Fast forward to April. With the first two weeks spent organizing with FundLife International (Football for Life’s mother organization) and participating in a third-year CAC seminar in Tacloban City from the 6th to the 9th and leading a second-year CAC seminar in Baybay City on the 11th to the 14th, I only had little time to pack my bags for the trip to Manila-Singapore-Jakarta on the 16th, which was no problem, because I’m a light packer.
Charlie Crawford (team leader for the Philippines – Tacloban and Baybay – seminars) who was also going to lead the Indonesia trainings, flew to Manila with me in the morning of the sixteenth but we had different airlines for the Manila-Jakarta trip. I was flying solo to a foreign country, something that made me anxious a bit. Good thing that I had a book with me which made me feel comfortable in my trip. Despite the delay of arrival in Singapore and an almost closed gate for my Singapore-Jakarta flight, the plane ride to Jakarta was without any other hassle. Arriving in Jakarta, I was expecting a welcome committee when I went out of the terminal. But nobody from Uni Papua, the partner organization of CAC, was there.
Finding myself alone in a foreign country made me nervous so I went back inside the airport to breathe and think of a solution to solve my problem. I asked which terminal the other international airlines landed. “Terminal two”, the kind airport lady told me, so I jumped inside a shuttle bus to terminal two. And indeed, there they were, Maria and Andi, the welcome committee, I tapped their back and introduced myself. They were quite embarrassed that they didn’t know that I was going to land in terminal three. “No harm done”, I told them. And “Charlie ought to be proud of me, because I solved my problem by asking the right questions”. Jon Eisen, a CAC volunteer from the United States arrived next. The CAC Indonesia team was completed upon Charlie’s arrival at the airport. My first impressions of people, places and things are almost always accurate, that’s the intuitive side to my personality. I thought to myself that Charlie, Jon and I will click and make a great team, that I will learn a lot from the partner organization and that I will fall in love with Jakarta.
The CAC training would begin on the Monday. Having our Sunday free, we met with the Uni Papua Founder, Mr. Harry Widjaja, a gracious and generous man, who took us out for a meal in a fancy café, talked to us about the social football organization then he tagged us along to watch a movie, VIP style. First day of the training, April 18th, was spent with introductions and curious eyes on me, being the only female coach on the CAC team, and one of only two females present that time. From that moment, I had a mission, of challenging every participant’s views on gender, equality and society. We started the training with the famous Circle of Friends then more games that taught about health and wellness, gender equality and fun were played. The end of the first day training saw us tired, so Charlie introduced us to martabak manis, his most favorite dessert in the world. Tasting it was sensational – though it simply looks like pancake, it’s not just pancake. It is martabak manis. It has become my most favorite dessert too. Martabak manis has mostly been a part of our evening routine except Wednesday of the Jakarta week.
On the second day of training, I led Solo Skills for Life, a game that teaches the basic goalkeeping throws. I emphasized to the participants to use their voice while doing the skills. This would ensure that the skill will be mastered and at the same time, participants will be confident to use their voice, and with seminars like this, CAC aims to develop community leaders who would be able to adapt and teach the games according to the needs of their community. The highlight of the third day of the training for me was one of the ASK for Choice Curriculum Games called Brazil for Attitudes, it’s a game were participants are asked to do things “like a girl” or “like a boy”. It was fun watching full-grown men goof around, but at the same time, made me wonder why they were running, skipping, dancing, hopping or what-not in a silly manner when I told them to do things “like a girl”. When I huddled them and discussed the social impact of the game, I asked whether they see female athletes move the way they did during the game and how the girls and women in their life would react to the thought of doing things like a girl as a form of weakness. That’s when they realized that the stereotypes that they have of women must be challenged.
The fourth day of the training mostly featured Child’s Rights Games and a Child’s Rights Talk near the end. During the child’s rights talk near the end of the day, experiences growing up as a child in Indonesia were shared, and how they have a common belief that the negative aspects that they went through should not be experienced by any child. It was a rather serious and emotional talk that we needed to have a breather after. The break from the seriousness was the most fun part of the day. We played Scary Soccer, a live rock-paper-scissors kind-of-game, featuring moves for goalkeeper, striker and midfielder. The youngest participant of the day was a twelve-year-old boy who was never tagged in the progression of the game, where the team that loses are chased by the winning team and once they’re tagged, they join the other team. Talk about how an empowered child who doesn’t get tagged at scary soccer wins at life!
Day five was coach-backs, where participants go into pairs and choose a game from a list of the games taught for the entire week and they coach the game back. The coach-participants were very creative at modifying and making the games their own and that’s exactly what we want, that they be comfortable enough to teach the games the way they deem necessary. What was most impressive, was the three youngest participants, teenage boys of 12, 13 and 15 who coached “Old Trafford Tag” as a group and how they transformed from the shy and quiet kids to “coaches” saying the instructions and explaining the social messages after the game was played. These three kids have a potential at coaching too, seeing them step up made me hopeful at the bright future there is for Indonesian football for social impact.
And oh, going back to my first impressions… They were right. Charlie, Jon and I have forged friendships along with the Uni Papua Salatiga coaches with whom we lived with at the Our Daily Bread Office guesthouse, caring Maria who always made sure that our needs were met, like tea that makes me burp a lot, thus the nickname “Burpie”, helpful Andi and his funny giggle, energetic Yan and his very delicious Papuan’s pizza. I have learned a lot from Mr. Harry about the organization through the success tips talk we had over lunch before I left Jakarta. And yes, I have fallen in love with Jakarta, because of the food and because of the participants of the training. What better way to fall in love with a place than because of the food and the people.