• Online Education Program Runs Across 4 Continents

    April 22nd 2016. In December 2015 twelve participants successfully graduated from the first worldwide Online Education Program (OEP) in Sport for Social Impact. Coaches Across Continents (CAC) was delighted to certify these participants who invested 160 hours each during this 9-month course. The coaches are now qualified to use online technology, including Sport Session Planner (SSP), Skype, and email. Through these skills they are now further impacting children and youth locally and globally by sharing games through the online platform SSP. In 2015 the participants represented 7 different countries on the Asian and African continent.

    This year in March the 2nd year of our Online Education Program started. After the exciting first year we wanted it to grow and give more people the chance to learn using modern technology. We sent the invitation out and within two weeks we received 60 applications. We have been overwhelmed by this high interest. The applicants underwent a very competitive selection process whereby at the end 30 participants were accepted.

    The initial idea of starting an Online Education Program in Sport for Social Impact was that we wanted to offer trainings to coaches that were not able to receive On-Field training with CAC; usually because the safety situation in their community would not allow us to run a program in that particular place. Therefore we are particularly delighted to have 6 participants on the program this year that have never received CAC On-Field training before. Some of the countries that are represented by these coaches are South Sudan, Armenia and India. Looking at all the participants we have coaches from 17 different countries located on 4 different continents: Asia, Africa, Europe and South America. Please have a look at the map below to see that the OEP in its 2nd year has already become a global initiative. The markers represent the locations of all the participants in the 2nd year of CAC’s Online Education Program.

    Our vision for the future of the OEP reflects the idea of being able to run a complete On-Field program without being physically present. Let’s see if we can make that happen for 2017. For now we wish our current participants good luck and lots of fun for this year’s program. Let us grow the network of people who have skills to use Sport and Technology as a tool to impact their communities.

    OEP Map

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  • Excitement, Passion and Learning in Punjab

    CAC Community Impact Coach (CIC) Guru Singh discusses his work with CAC and YFC Rurka Kalan in Punjab, India.

    December 2nd 2015. It was my second year working with CAC as a CIC which makes me very happy. I still remember the 14th of November, 2013 when I participated in a CAC workshop for the first time. The workshop gave me a new way to use football for social impact. This experience changed many things for me. I had been coaching for one and a half years, but I had never used football to address social issues.

    In November this year I joined CAC for the 2nd time as a CIC and I went back to Rurka Kalan, which is a village in the state of Punjab. I assisted Markus Bensch who is one CAC’s Self-Directed Learning (SDL) Coaches. Markus is a great mentor, coach, motivator and a friend. I learned many new games during the one week coaching course with coaches from YFC which stands for Youth Football Clubs as well as Youth For Change. YFC have run a football academy in Rurka Kalan for the past 13 years. From the very beginning they have focused on the prevention of alcohol and drug abuse among the youth and have encouraged them to invest in their education by being involved in sport.

    I am fond of all the CAC games but two of my favorites are ‘Head-Catch’ and ‘95% Football’. 95% Football is a football game but without a ball which is the best part of the game. The rules are almost the same as normal football. You can pass, dribble and score but the only difference is the player who has the ball has to have his or her hand on their head. You can pass the ball by shouting the name of your teammate and you can score by simply crossing the goal line with the hand on your head. The other team can steal the ball by tagging the player that has the ball. This game causes a lot of conflict and cheating. The players need to discuss the rules of the game and also stick to them in order to make the game flow. The participants from YFC had a great time when we played this game and it was impressive to see how teams improved their strategies in order to score more often and win the game.

    YFC is a professional football academy with different disciplines and various other development programs for the town youth to help them change their lives. It was CAC’s second time to teach and learn together with the coaches from YFC and I was happy to be a part of it. It was amazing to see the coaches participate with the same interest and passion as last year. They were eager to learn and gain knowledge from the program. I was particularly impressed by the women who participated in the program. How they raised their voice, spoke up in front of the group and got very competitive during the games.

    I observed that CAC has an impact on everyone who participates in their program. CAC has given me a better understanding of other communities, because I was able to learn about their lifestyle and their culture. It was interesting for me to realize that many social issues are the same in different parts of India. Women and children are the most vulnerable and therefore child abuse and gender inequality are two big issues that CAC always addresses.

    My journey as a CIC with CAC has been wonderful so far, full of excitement, passion and great learning. It’s always football but never the same. I am always excited about the new skills, games and social messages I learn. I feel very privileged to be part of such a great organization and I promise to not keep my knowledge and skills for myself, but share it with coaches from my home community and wherever people are eager to change the society for better.

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  • Eagerness, Excitement, Encouragement

    CAC SDL coach Markus Bensch talks about his time with Magic Bus in Hyderabad, India.

    November 18th 2015. Can you impact a group that you work with for 2 and a half days? That was the question I asked myself when I was approaching Hyderabad for my 2nd program with Magic Bus in India. Tejas (one of our Community Impact Coaches in India) and I arrived together with the participants at the A.P. Forest Academy in Hyderabad on late Saturday morning. This campus would be our home for the next 2.5 days. Due to the Diwali festival the program was scheduled over the weekend and would end on Monday afternoon.

    After everybody’s arrival we ate lunch together and I had to realize that the food in Hyderabad was even spicier than in Bangalore. I had to use quite a bit of the yogurt sauce that was provided to soften the taste. After Tejas, who lives in Bangalore, said that the food is spicy for him as well, I was re-assured that everything is fine with my taste buds.

    After the heat left my mouth again we met for our first session in the classroom. As part of the introduction we asked the participants about their expectations for the course. As they mentioned their priorities I was putting together in my head the curriculum for the next two days. They asked for a game about nutrition? OK, we can play Balotelli for Health & Wellness. They want to get taught different warm-ups? No problem, I can show them many different variations of Circle of Friends. They want to learn goalkeeping skills? Great, I have planned to play Hope Solo Skills for Life anyway. They want to play Fun games? Sure, during Head Catch we will have a lot of laugher. They would like to learn how to easily introduce to topic of sexual and reproductive health to their children and youth? I think our ASK for Choice game ‘Indonesia for Knowledge’ works perfectly for that. And I was excited, because the participants seemed very eager to learn many new things.

    Hyderabad is a hot place during the day so we had to hold back with our excitement and only went on the pitch later in the afternoon for our first On-Field session. ‘Circle of Friends’ already caused a lot of laugher and Mingle Mingle kept the energy high. On the 2nd day we then also got to the topic of sexual and reproductive health. I was not surprised by this request, because I knew that India is a country where people have difficulty talking about any topic that is related to our bodies, sexuality and relationships. Again I was impressed by the eagerness of these participants to change that, because they have realized that keeping these topics under wraps impacts the high number of teenage pregnancies and abortions, forced marriages, sexual abuse and HIV/AIDS. ‘Indonesia for Knowledge’ is a game where two teams are standing in a line and the first two people are facing each other. There is some space between the two players and to their left and right are two gates. One of them represents healthy/positive behaviors and the other unhealthy/negative behaviors. Now the coach yells out different choices a person can make and the respective person in the front has to quickly decide if it is healthy or unhealthy. I started with “Eat vegetables”, “Smoking”, “Drink Water”, “Eat a lot of chocolate” and then moved on to statements like “Have knowledge about your body”, “Use a condom”, “Talk about sex”, “Have a boyfriend/girlfriend” and many more. It was a lot of fun and competition and some of the statements caused an argument as they were not clearly positive or negative. The participants were very grateful for this game as it gives the children the opportunity to make a statement without having to raise their voice and the coach can get a very good idea of what his/her players think about sexual education. They were eager to use it as an introduction before they would even talk with their youth about sexuality.

    At the closing ceremony we got to see a visual treat as Tejas, who is a freestyle footballer, gave us a short performance of his skills. It was exciting to see what can be achieved through fun and hard work and what can be done with a ball when it is in the possession of an artist. And as we were driving back from the camp to the city of Hyderabad I realized that even a short training of only 2 and a half days has impact if it is paired with eagerness, excitement and encouragement.

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  • How Can An Empty Beer Glass Stimulate Self-Directed Learning?

    CAC’s Markus Bensch blogs from Tarrafal, Cape Verde on our partnership with Delta Cultura.

    October 28th 2015. Can you imagine how an empty beer glass, a penny and a beer-mat can be related to Self-Directed Learning? Hopefully you will understand after reading this blog.

    It is Saturday night and Frederick and I are sitting in “Burg Pappenheim”, a Bavarian restaurant in Munich. We just returned from our program in Cape Verde and now we are celebrating Bayern Munich’s 4-0 victory against Cologne in the German Bundesliga that we witnessed in the Allianz Arena earlier that day. After many months I was craving some Bavarian food and Frederick, who is a local, took me out to this place. We finished our delicious meal and I am sipping my “winning beer”. As I look across at the table next to us I witness a boy offering a challenge to his friend: on top of an empty beer glass he places a beer-mat and a small coin. He asks the girl if she can get the coin into the glass without touching it. The girl simply takes the beer-mat, tilts it slightly sideways and the coin slides into the glass. She looks happy. The boy is astonished, but after a second he realizes what happened and says: “No, no, no! I didn’t mean like that. That is too easy. You should also not touch the beer-mat!” In the following minutes the two children try to find ways to get the coin into the empty beer glass without touching the coin nor the beer-mat. The whole situation makes me smile. To see these two kids makes me even happier than Bayern’s victory against Cologne.

    Change of location and scenery: just a few days before we are on Delta Cultura’s Football for Hope Center pitch and the coaches are separated into two groups. They are given tasks and they compete with each other to finish them as quickly as possible. First I asked them to keep the ball in the air and everybody has to touch the ball at least once. Both groups start to juggle and pass the ball to each other with their feet. It is very difficult for them to complete the task. Finally they succeed. When I asked them why they didn’t use their hands they said: “We thought we have to use our feet.”

    Is there any connection between these two incidences? I could say that the girl in the restaurant has simply better listening skills than the coaches from the program in Cape Verde. But I think it goes deeper and the situation in the restaurant made me again realize why I love the work I do and why it is important. I want to encourage people to question and challenge tradition, religion and culture. I don’t want them to just assume what might be expected from them. The boy and the girl in the restaurant were facing a problem and then tried to find solutions to it. The adults that were around them didn’t tell them how they have to do it or what the best solution is. I think this is the biggest difference between these two kids and the people in Cape Verde and many other places in the world. I want to encourage those people who live in places with a culture of authoritarian control to find creative solutions to their problems instead of repeatedly trying to make solutions work that they have been told to use. My work is challenging, but often also very rewarding. The coaches in Cape Verde are on the right track as they have been very creative while developing their own games during the partnership. Their games address important social issues in their community such as robbery, social inclusion and female empowerment. As it was the third year of our Hat-Trick Initiative with Delta Cultura the coaches are now able to create and develop their own curriculum which will positively impact the next generation of children.

    Who knows in 20 years I might go back to Tarrafal and while I am sitting in a bar and sipping my beer two children might be sitting at the table next to me and will use an empty beer glass, a coin and a beer-mat to develop their own little challenge.

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  • Rained On And Better For It

    CAC regular volunteer Charlie Crawford blogs about enjoying the rainy season in Sihanoukville, Cambodia with M’Lop Tapang.

    September 4th 2015. The rainy season earned its descriptor this week. After two weeks in Cambodia’s Capitol, our coaching staff split into two groups and went to Sihanoukville and Siem Reap. As it went, Turner and Spring headed north to Siem Reap while I journeyed to the coast with Markus (or “Helga Mueller” as he appreciated being called after his favorite player’s female alter ego). On the coast, we worked with partner program M’lop Tapang and their 25 participants on one of the closest to ideal fields I’ve ever seen working with CAC.

    Sihanoukville seemed to be rolling out the green carpet for us. For the training we played our games on a beautiful roofed field. A quality astro-turf away from broken glass, mud, and the scorching sun is simply too rare to not show up each day with a smile on your face. As good as it was, there was one moment during this week that the conditions taught an important lesson. Perfect conditions just don’t exist. As we prepared to start the training on Tuesday, the Cambodian rainy season hit the switch. So much rain pelted the roof that we couldn’t hear each other shouting 10 feet away for 3 hours.

    Needless to say, our plan for the day required some last minute reorganizing, yet ended up being one of our best. A feat, in large part because of the flexibility of our three Community Impact Coaches.

    I’ll remember a number of things about this program.  The girl’s team that had better skills than the boys. The 9v9 pickup game we played with our coaches against other locals one evening. The fried noodle meals that left me wanting nothing else (an uncommon occurrence). But as impressive as these and the rain and the beach were, what truly made this a week to remember was the presence of these CIC’s from Phnom Penh. Sameth “Handsome Man”, Ranya, and Makara became more than a couple of coaches throughout the week.

    Making strong connections with people in a short amount of time is a pre-requisite for on-field work with Coaches Across Continents. That being said, having 3 weeks instead of the typical 1 gave Markus and me an opportunity to form a bond with these three coaches even more. From Sameth’s vitality to Ranya’s massages to Makara’s sense of humor, these three have certainly become part of CAC’s and my own family.

    That roof taught me something. Our success this week wasn’t from it. What it taught me was that no matter the conditions, what pulls a program off is the people involved. Everything else can be dealt with, whether that be by huddling in a corner to be heard or huddling in the shade to cool off. Lesson learned.

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  • Education Across Continents

    August 11th 2015. CAC’s On-Line Self-Directed Learning Coaching Course connects coaches from all over the world.

    In March this year we started the worldwide first On-Line Coaching Course in Football for Social Impact. We are conducting a 9 month long course whereby we guide the participants through the three Self-Directed-Learning (SDL) stages educate, adapt, and create. Each of the stages lasts for three months. In the educate stage the participants implement CAC games in their community. In the adapt stage they use existing Football for Social Impact (FSI) games to develop games that are relevant to their local community by changing the rules and/or the social impact message of the game. And in the create stage they gain the skills to identify a social issue in their community and develop a completely new game to address it on the football field.

    15 coaches participate in the course, implement different FSI games each month and join our monthly Skype follow-up calls. During these calls they give us feedback about the games they implemented in their community and we discuss challenges and share successes.

    The coaches are currently in the last month of the Adapt stage. In the past two months each coach developed 5 game adaptations and this month they will now coach each other games and give feedback to one another during our next Skype call. We are already excited to hear them talking to each other at the end of August. It will be their next step towards Self-Directed Learning and to solve their own problems.

    The On-Line platform “Sport Session Planner” makes all of that possible. The players learned in the first three months of the course how to use this tool by entering CAC games into their personal accounts. In June they started to develop their first adaptations and after they received feedback from us about their first trials everybody developed at least five adaptations by the end of July. “Sport Session Planner” allows participants to share games with other members and also gives them the option to copy existing games in order to change and make them their own. In their adaptations the coaches addressed various social issues such as Alcohol & Drug Abuse, HIV/AIDS and Family Planning, Importance of Education, Gender Equity, Fun Games and many more.

    All the coaches have already made a big step towards becoming Self-Directed Learners. Recently Charles, a participant from Kenya, sent CAC an email saying: “Thank you Markus (course coordinator) as you have already taken us this far.” One of the participants is using the games to coach prisoners in his community. Some of the participants initiated teams and workshops in their communities to teach CAC and FSI games. Others coach young leaders in their community so they can coach their peers. The course also had already direct impact on the children. In one community the children now show up on time for the sessions which was not the case in the beginning. Children and youth were also educated on their rights as children and through the sessions they gained the confidence to talk to their parents and caregivers in order to claim these rights.

    The On-Line SDL Coaching Course is very exciting for both coaches and CAC because the participants love the content of the course and it gives CAC a better understanding of the coaches creativity and potential. This course helps us to bring some of our best On-Field coaches to the next level of coaching Football for Social Impact. We already look forward to the create stage of the course, where the participants will develop their own games to address social issues relevant to their communities and share them again with other participants from different parts of the world.

    Check out a game created by one of the participants on the On-Line course: Parisien, Jean Claude_Village against Malaria.

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