• ESPN & Local Organizations Build and Open Multifunctional Sports Space in San Juan, Puerto Rico

    • YMCA of San Juan celebrates the opening of courts that will be home to sustainable programs
      teaching young people life-skills through sports
    • Puerto Rican Olympic Gold Medalist Monica Puig helps opens the space during special event.

    San Juan, Puerto Rico: At a special virtual event on Tuesday, August 17, ESPN and partners officially opened a newly transformed multifunctional sports space dedicated to the local community and its residents The site is the tenth in the global Built to Play project series, led by ESPN. Partners on the project include the local community, award-winning sport for development organizations love.fútbol and Coaches Across Continents, the YMCA of San Juan, the Puerto Rico Tennis Association (PRTA) and United States Tennis Association (USTA).

    Encompassing a revitalization and beautification of courts located at the YMCA San Juan, the space is
    designed to provide a safe place to play for the surrounding community and to offer ongoing programming using the power of sports to educate young people on key local and personal development issues.

    Hosted by Marly Rivera, ESPN’s Major League Baseball National Reporter, the virtual media event and ribbon-cutting was attended by special guest speaker, professional tennis player and 2016 Olympic Gold Medalist, Monica Puig; Freddy Rolón, Vice President, ESPN Programming and Acquisitions; Rosa María Martínez, Executive Director, USTA Caribbean and PRTA; Mabel Román Padró, Executive Director, YMCA of San Juan; and, Mano Silva, Chief Operating Officer, love.fútbol.

    “I have always believed that we do our best work when we can use the power of the ESPN brand to serve as an agent of change and bring positive impact to communities,” said Freddy Rolón. “We were pleased to bring ESPN Built to Play to the YMCA of San Juan and to collaborate with love.fútbol, Coaches Across Continents, the local community, the YMCA and the PRTA to provide a space in a community where there is a need and where it can truly make a difference. I know that it will continue to be a focal point for this community for many years to come; a place where kids can play sports, have fun, learn, and thrive.

    The virtual event celebrated the site and featured remarks from the project partners on its social impact on the G8 community. It also included a special Q&A between Olympic champion Monica Puig and two children from the USTA Foundation’s local National Junior Tennis and Learning (NJTL) chapter

    Monica Puig said, “It is an honor to be part of this great initiative. I want to thank ESPN Built to Play, the YMCA of San Juan, the PRTA, and everyone involved for making a difference not only through the sport of tennis but through sports overall to help improve the health and wellness of our youth. It’s been very special for me to see the growth of interest in tennis in Puerto Rico ever since I won the gold medal, especially among kids. Sports, in general, are a great resource for kids to learn life skills, stay active and also deal with mental health issues, which are especially timely with the pandemic. Thanks to this project, the kids in the community will have this as a safe haven to go outside, stay active, explore their passions and talents, and simply be kids.”

    By fostering a more inclusive community and ensuring quality programming, this space will serve as a hub for local youth to play, participate in skills-development programs, and grow. The project engages the G8 community and YMCA members through a variety of sports – including new opportunities to play and learn through tennis and football – and activities for different ages, but mainly targeting boys and girls aged 6 to 15-years-old. Parents will also be part of the process. Project manager love.fútbol led the transformation of the space and programming partner Coaches Across Continents virtually trained local expert coaches – including Fundación Golitos, which runs adapted sports program for children with disabilities – on its customized Purposeful Play curriculum. The programming will be used to facilitate powerful discussions with youth around leadership, mental well-being, healthy living, and social inclusion. From August 2021– August 2022, the coaches will deliver weekly sessions reaching at least 600 young people monthly in full compliance with COVID-19 restrictions.

    Read the full press release here.

  • Healthy Living With Disney

    Coaches Across Continents is delighted to be working with Disney, love.futbol and Think Beyond on a new initiative promoting healthy living within low socio-economic communities in Mexico City and Buenos Aires. Love.futbol are refurbishing safe spaces for play in Boulogne, Buenos Aires and Valle de Chalco outside Mexico City. These safe spaces will be managed by local organizations Revolucion Pelota and Natlik respectively.

    CAC has designed local play-based programming with Revolucion Pelota and Natlik aligned with Disney’s healthy living principles. These programs, utilizing the new safe spaces, will address topics related to UNSDG3: Good Health & Wellbeing including nutrition, hydration, physical activity, and promotion of a positive personal lifestyle over the course of 9-12 months. Our role includes a Purposeful Play curriculum, designing monitoring and evaluation systems and online training of local leaders.

    This exciting initiative follows on the heels of our partnership with ESPN, whose parent company is Disney, in Sydney and Puerto Rico over the past 2 years. We are pleased to bring this productive partnership to new communities, adapted for local realities and challenges.

  • #BuiltToPlay With ESPN in Puerto Rico

    CAC is delighted to be partnering with ESPN, think Beyond, and love.futbol on the #BuiltToPlay initiative in Puerto Rico in 2021-22. Working with local organizations in San Juan; the YMCA and the US Tennis Association; we have designed Purposeful Play curriculum, will be training local coaches and supporting local programming for the space throughout the next 12 months. The official opening of the new multi-sports spaces will be in 2021. Our programming with local at-risk youth will use football, basketball, volleyball and tennis to facilitate powerful discussions around leadership, mental well-being, healthy living, and social inclusion.

    The ESPN #BuiltToPlay initiative builds safe spaces to play sports in underserved communities all over the world and then supports local organizations to maintain and deliver educational programming on the space. Among the many locations which have benefited from this initiative are Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Mumbai. In previous years we have worked on this initiative with the PCYC Mount Druitt in Sydney, Australia. We are excited about the potential for the work in Puerto Rico.

  • #BuiltToPlay with ESPN in Sydney

    February 28th 2019. We are delighted to announce our collaboration with ESPN/Disney, and other incredible partners in Sydney, Australia as part of their global Built to Play project.

    Today, Coaches Across Continents were delighted to be present at the official opening of a new, multifunctional sports space in Mount Druitt, Sydney, Australia. The first of its kind that ESPN/Disney has done in Sydney and the eighth Built to Play project globally. The space, built by community volunteers and ESPN and Disney employees, is designed to provide a safe place to play for the surrounding community, as well as offer ongoing programming using the power of sports to educate young people on key local issues. The event included music, special cultural performances, and a ribbon cutting ceremony, followed by a showcase of the programming that will occur onsite. The project is led by ESPN and The Walt Disney Company, in collaboration with Education Outside the Classroom organizations, love.futbol, Coaches Across Continents and PCYC Mt Druitt.

    CAC is proud to be a part of this ESPN/Disney #BuiltToPlay initiative that brings a Love.Fútbol safe space and CAC’s Purposeful Play to PCYC Mt. Druitt to benefit tens of thousands of children and their families for years to come. – Brian Suskiewicz, Chief Executive, CAC

    As well as showcasing CAC’s work during the inauguration, our Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz will be running a Purposeful Play training program for PCYC coaches, teachers and community leaders over the next 3 days on the new pitches. We will then work closely with the PCYC to implement programming around key social topics identified by them over the next 10 months. Topics include community re-integration, gender equality, conflict prevention, health and substance abuse. The project will also include opportunities for ESPN employees in Sydney to engage with the PCYC, CAC and the community initiative throughout 2019.

    Because of #BuiltToPlay we have the potential ability to further develop our programming regarding youth guidance in education, safety, and core values to another level. – Lance Chaloner, Senior Club Manager at PCYC Mt. Druitt

  • CAC, Hofstra, Soccer, and Pelé

    IMG_9421April 13, 2014. Another weekend, another speaking event for CAC Chief Executive Strategist, Brian Suskiewicz. A return home of sorts, Brian spoke at the “Soccer As The Beautiful Game” conference at Hofstra University in New York. Before CAC Brian was Associate Head Coach for the Hofstra Men’s Soccer Team from 2004 to 2009, winning three CAA titles during those five years. To say Brian was happy to return is an understatement, but throw a football legend into the mix and words fall short of expressing our delight in participating in this event.

    Brian has a chance to share a few words with Pele

    Brian has a chance to share a few words with legendary footballer and global icon Pele

    One of the big activities of the weekend, aside from gathering the all-stars of the sport for development field, was to give Pelé, THE Pelé, an honorary degree from Hofstra. His ties to the university go back to his days as a player as the NY Cosmos used to train at Hofstra in the 1970s.  Pelé also spoke at the conference, noting that coming to play for the NY Cosmos “was the best thing in my life.  It was the best decision to come to play in the United States.”  He also noted that soccer is “the biggest family in the world.”  Brian was honored to have a few moments to speak with Pelé and thank him for inspiring generations of footballers all over the world.  A full video of his 5-minute speech on Friday evening can be found here.

    Besides his brief meeting with the global icon, Brian spoke on two panels during this first ever event at his old stomping ground. The first focused on “Football, Pedagogy, and Integration,” and Brian capitalized on this opportunity to detail our philosophy of self-directed learning. Brian partook in this panel with other academics in the field, sharing ideas on how soccer can change the world, creating self-directed learners based on Dr. Judith Gates’ Chance to Choice educational theory.

    The second panel shifted attentions to “Empowerment, Social Integration, and Soccer”, moving from the theoretical to the practical. Many familiar faces joined Brian as he spoke about our work on the field in more than twenty-five countries around the world. Friends and partners of CAC who also participated include Mary McVeigh from Soccer Without Borders – who we are working with in Uganda this month! – as well as representatives from streetfootballworld, Love Futbol, and America Scores.  The interested crowd asked dozens of questions varying from implementation practices to supporting global charities.

    We are proud to be part of events like this, honored to be among such stellar figures in our field of not only international development but also international football – nice to meet you Pelé! Moreover, we are proud because we are the global leaders in sport for social impact and these platforms allow us to spread awareness for what we do with the incredible local organizations we are so grateful to call our partners.