a month of growth
October 11, 2018. Community Impact Coach Rose Elias recaps her travels throughout Amman, Jordan and throughout Georgia in the cities of Gori, Ambrolauri, Tsageri, and Zugdidi alongside Coaches Across Continents in partnership with Reclaim Childhood, and the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture.
So about last September with CAC….
It finally came true! My month with CAC had started. Our first destination was Amman – Jordan. Our program in Jordan was interactive and fun. There, I met some very inspiring coaches and leaders in sports and sports for social impact. Through our partner Reclaim Childhood I had the chance to talk to some incredible women that decided to just go for it despite social pressures or gender roles. Also, amazing coaches from the southern Jordan with good hearts and generous souls. It felt good to be in Jordan because as an Arab I had the chance to experience another Arab culture; it was similar, different and interesting.
Our second destination was Georgia, in partnership with the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture. We had a big program in Georgia covering 4 different areas Gori, Ambrolauri, Tsageri and Zugdidi. It was overwhelming seeing Tbilisi another time, just because it is one of those cities you feel happy going back to. As we were moving from one location to the other we had to travel sometimes up to 3-4 hours by car. Never ending beauty through mountains and valleys, crossing rivers, experiencing Georgian hospitality as we stayed with two very warm families in Ambrolauri and Tsageri that made us feel like home. As high as the experience was, we also had to face big challenges during our sessions. I felt how hard it is for Women to achieve something different, social pressure is strong, it feels like it is hard for the younger generation. A lot of their needs are neglected because of social conformity and the rough nature of their lifestyles. It was not easy to observe and not feel some pain during this trip. On the other hand the Georgian culture is very rich and people have such strong connections with their neighbors, insanely generous and they are very happily living their clean, organic and literally fruitful lives. We tasted some top notch home-made wine, liqueur and an abundance of authentic Georgian cuisine.
Life has been very generous with me, it offered me this CAC trip. I could feel my person growing every single day. I learned a lot as a sports for social impact coach, I experienced two amazing cultures, Markus, Jesse, Toko and I were each other’s family, we cared and looked after one another. These moments will forever stay in my heart. My friends back home are telling me that my face is glowing! The secret behind this radiance is an unforgettable CAC trip that fertilized my inner-growth and showed me how powerful our work is. I can’t wait for what is coming.
დიდი მადლობა (Didi madloba)
And so it begins…
September 19th, 2018. Global Citizen Jesse DiLuzio writes about his first country on-field with Coaches Across Continents with Community Partner Reclaim Childhood in Jordan.
My work with CAC began in Amman, Jordan where I was fortunate enough to work with coaches from a diverse group of countries that included Jordan, Somalia, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria! As part of this process, CAC partnered with a local non-profit called Reclaim Childhood, an organization that works to empower refugee and at-risk women and girls in Jordan through sport and play. This partnership proved to be a fruitful one, and myself, Markus (full-time CAC Coach), and Rose (Community Impact Coach from Lebanon) were very fortunate to work with an incredible group of motivated coaches.
Over the course of the week, we discussed a number of issues with a focus on rights for refugees and women in society. During these discussions, it became increasingly clear that many of the coaches in front of us were already great leaders in their communities. Haneen Khateeb, a female coach from Amman is one of these examples. Just last year, Haneen broke a world record through her participation in the highest-elevation soccer match ever played. At the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Haneen along with 29 other players representing 22 different countries played the 90 minute match 5,985 meters above sea level. As extraordinary as this feat was both physically and mentally, it is even more incredible when you consider the social impact of her actions. While the women’s football scene in Jordan has been much improved under the leadership of HRH Prince Ali, the role of women in sports has been a controversial topic across the region, where in some places, women are banned from participating in sports altogether. Haneen’s efforts served as an inspiration for thousands of women looking to overcome their obstacles and pursue their dreams.
Other coaches that we trained also told us about the amazing efforts that they have put forth in order to provide a positive environment for other underserved groups. Muhammad (Yasin) and Paul, two friends from Amman, have effectively created a space in their homes for over one hundred refugees to discuss, challenge, and collectively overcome the many obstacles they face coming from corrupt, war-torn states such as Syria. Not to mention the incredible women who work with Reclaim Childhood throughout the year constantly recruiting underprivileged girls across Jordan to learn and play soccer in a space free from social pressure.
While I entered the week eager and enthusiastic to provide and teach all of the things I have learned in 18 years as a soccer player/coach, I found myself doing quite the opposite. There’s a saying in Jordan that “whenever you are full, you can still eat forty more tidbits of food”. While I was always too full to test its validity during meals, I think this spirit was certainly embodied by the coaches that we worked with this week. Despite the fact that all of them had already accomplished incredible things in their communities, none of them were full. They always wanted to learn more, and their enthusiasm was unwavering. I became the listener, the learner, the “trainee”, as the coaches took the games/discussions that we led and took them to new heights. It was a humbling experience, one that put a lot of my previous assumptions about coaching into doubt.
Off the field, the experience was quite wonderful as well! The locals in Amman are very hospitable and have warm hearts. They will feed you till you can’t move, talk to you until days end, and are always down for a coffee or two. Must haves for me are Shawarma from Saj’s, Falafel from Chammad’s?, Frike, Labaneh, and Mansaf from anywhere. Petra beer is pretty good as well.
It was truly an amazing first week with Coaches Across Continents and I look forward to more travels with the organization!
Until next time,
My Most Valuable Experience
June 25th, 2018. Community Impact Coach, Ntethelelo Ngobese, joins Self-Directed Learning Educator, Markus Bensch from Coaches Across Continents, on-field in Zimbabwe and South Africa with CAC Community Partner World Parks, World Cup.
“Sports have the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire, the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sports can create hope, where there was once only despair. It is more powerful than governments in breaking down racial barriers. It laughs in the face of all types of discrimination. Sports is the game of lovers.” NELSON MANDELA
After reading this quotes from the late president, Nelson Mandela, I was inspired to use sport as a social impact tool to respond to the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in my community. From the sport experience I had, I was not confident enough to implement education outside classroom, and feared I would not be able to use sport for social impact. This all changed after I joined Coaches Across Continents (CAC).
I was just on-field as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) in partnership with Friends of Mutale located in Limpopo Province, South Africa. Through CIC program, I have gained massive experience and confidence to implement Education Outside the Classroom, to work with people from different backgrounds with differing perspective and experience. It was also amazing to learn from others culture.
During the first week in Zimbabwe, I learned how to introduce CAC’s Education Outside the Classroom to the people who have never received this kind of education as well as work with those who have experience in the subject. Through interaction with the participants in Zimbabwe, I was also enabled to spot a perspective difference between people from my community and people from that area. I mean the way they’re outgoing and always looking forward to make things happen is unlike where I come from, where most people do not take initiatives to change lives or difficult situations. The people I met are more likely to sit down and criticise those that want to see change happening. This is leaving me with the task to make people aware that taking initiatives is the best thing they can do! I will achieve this through series of strategic awareness campaigns upon my return home!
During the second week in Bende Mutale, I was more confident to implement education outside the classroom after my observation during the program in Zimbabwe. I learned to prepare for the session and to evaluate if the session has achieved its intended impact to the participants through coach backs and discussions, especially on the topi of Child Rights. Child Rights is a major focus for CAC and all of their partnerships around the world. Furthermore on chid rights, I observed that some cultural beliefs may violate children’s rights and thus some education must be done to make people aware of the child rights. Between the two communities, I also observed that most of the people are aware of the challenges they face in their communities and have solutions but do not implement them.
After gaining this experience I am even more confident to proceed with the implementation of the education outside the classroom in my community. I will do this by transferring the knowledge I have gained to my peers through series of trainings for coaches, teachers and other community members in order to work together towards the achievement of sport for social impact!
Online Education Program connects Coaches Across Continents
February 24th, 2017. Online Education Strategist, Markus Bensch recaps last years OEP.
In football there is a saying that when a team gets promoted to a higher league, the 2nd year is the toughest one. You must prove the quality of your team once the wave of excitement has faded.
We faced a similar challenge as we entered into the 2nd edition of our Online Education Program (OEP). We started with a new group of participants in March 2016! There were 12 coaches from 4 different continents (Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe) that graduated in the 2015 class.
We’ve introduced new technology tools such as hosting quarterly webinars and using an interactive feedback sheet. During the 9‑month program the coaches invested 200 hours on-field and off-field. The coaches implemented games with their teams, participated in 4 webinars throughout the course, shared their monthly feedback online, and entered games on Sport Session Planner (SSP).
It is exciting to read that the coaches witness behavior change in their players when implementing Sport for Social Impact games! One story was shared with us by Paula, from Brazil, about the youth she works with: “In the group of teenager after playing human rights game, they began to speak more properly about the right to education and for the first time began to remind people in the community who have had their lives changed because of it as an example.”
The participants went through three Self-Directed Learning (SDL) stages “Educate”, “Adapt” and “Create”, each lasting for 3 months. During the Educate stage the coaches receive a monthly curriculum to implement in their communities. During the Adapt and Create stage each of our 12 graduates developed and implemented 8 new games. In these 6 months each participant also implemented 8 games from other coaches and gave individual feedback.
Lin from Kenya, now living and studying in the UK, reflected on her adapted game by stating: “Empathy grew as the players began to stop stigmatizing each other. They became less embarrassed and began speaking up about HIV/AIDS and how it is affecting their families and communities. They also understood that silence plays a BIG part in the spread of it.”
We are very delighted that we now have almost 100 newly designed games available on our online platform SSP, ready to be implemented by coaches around the world. We have also included some of these games in the new CAC curriculum that will begin implementing during our on-field programs. The OEP is becoming a highly interactive program where coaches from different continents and cultures share knowledge, games, and experiences. The coaches have cultivated the skill of developing and designing FSI games, which are fun and educational. Reading the participants’ feedback you can see that they are very excited about their newly gained skills!
Ryan, from GOALS Armenia commented: “I wanted to make games that that both teach soccer skills and life skills, which is really difficult. After researching and remembering different soccer exercises I was able to apply new rules and create social impact meaning behind that exercise’s technical objective!”
There are certain challenges to the Online Education Program. Limited access to internet and technology has been the major reason for people not to be able to graduate. Although there are factors in place that make completion difficult for our participants, there are so many incredible success stories that rise from the program! Many participants go on to further schooling, rise to a new level of coaching, or have new found confidence in their ability to teach others. This is what OEP is all about!
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.
Wind Of Change
June 20th 2016. CAC SDL Coach Markus Bensch opens up on his background and the nature of global change.
I was born in 1985 in a dictatorship. When I was four years old, people started to go onto the streets and demonstrated against the regime demanding free elections, freedom of speech and movement. On Nov 9, 1989 the wall between East and West Berlin fell and Germany’s re-unification process started. When I was five Germany was a united nation and my country of birth, German Democratic Republic (GDR), didn’t exist anymore.
Without the effort and bravery of men and women who no longer accepted the situation they were living in, I am not sure I would be able to do the work I do today. My three oldest brothers were 19, 18 and 17 when they were able to travel for the first time in their lives to Munich, Frankfurt or Hamburg, France or England; to the “West” as people were saying in those days. My parents were 49 and 40 when the wall came down. They lived the majority of their lives in a country that didn’t allow them to say what they thought and to travel wherever they wanted. I was too young back then. I don’t consciously remember the re-unification, but my body and my heart have captured these moments, the emotions and the “Wind of Change” for the rest of my life!
26 years later: A couple of weeks ago I watched a German program where they show cases of crime which they want to detect and with short films they ask the general public for help. They showed one case where a Muslim woman who lived in Germany, divorced from her husband, lost in court the care-right for the one girl-child that she was taking care of. The two boys that she had with her ex-husband where already living with him. On top of that the husband’s family gave her 6 months to also return the dowry (gold jewelry) which she wasn’t willing to do. After exactly 6 months some instructed men from the ex-husband’s family came to her home and simply killed her. To date nobody knows where her body is.
This story made me angry and fearful. I thought: Now some Islamic based traditions have even come to Germany and undermined our freedom and judicial system. But then I realized that this case made me particularly angry and fearful, because it happened in Germany. At the same time I realized that this happens every day around the world to thousands of women. Why do I feel worse when that happens in Germany than if it happens in Iran or Syria? In this moment something slightly shifted in me. In future I hope I can feel the same pain and discomfort if somebody gets harmed, no matter in which part of the world it happens or which nationality the person has.
I imagine 30 years from now, in two generations, I might get asked the following questions: There was this country where women suffered from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)!? There was this tradition where women got married as they were still children!? There were people who expressed their opinion and got killed!? There was a country where every 17 seconds a woman got raped (South Africa)!? What did you do about that? How did you feel when you heard about that?
I want to respond by saying: It made me sad and it made me angry. But most importantly I didn’t want to accept it and I was able to work for an organization called Coaches Across Continents which gave me the opportunity to go to these communities and listen to the stories of women who have experienced FGM or who have been raped or who survived a genocide. But I also got the chance to address these issues and work with local people who wanted to bring change to their community and end harmful traditional, religious and cultural practices. And I am happy to see that you young people don’t need to live in this fear today. I am happy that you have the freedom that you can wear, say, do and go wherever and whatever you want as long as you respect the freedom of your neighbor!
I am very grateful to my colleagues, our volunteers, and the incredible participants that I was able to work with for being such wonderful people. I love working with you for peace and a liberating future! Thank you!