One Love: Harare, Zimbabwe
June 27th 2016. CAC volunteer Carrie Taylor writes about her 1st CAC experience in Harare, Zimbabwe.
When analyzing my time in Zimbabwe through Coaches Across Continents, I keep coming back to the idea of the incredible power of sport, and in this case the sport is soccer/football. If you can mention the name Messi, Marta, Ronaldo or talk about an EPL team, you can strike up a conversation with anyone and make an instant connection.
CAC brought me to Harare to work with the wonderful coaches of Zim through the Sports Recreation Commission via Neswten Chipoya. Newsten was quiet yet very strong in organizing people. He did a tremendous job in bringing people together and creating connections. Our zany and energetic leader for the week was Nora Dooley from CAC along with Nico who is from Tanzania whose outgoing personality and his penchant for teaching wood ball was a hit with the participants.
As a longtime coaching educator in the US, I have had a lot of experiences with working with coaches, so going in, I was very interested in how different the CAC curriculum was and how it was to be delivered from the typical US coaching course.
First off I was blown away by the shear number and strength of the women in the course. I was able to meet Rosemary who was the former Zimbabwe Women’s National team coach, and a some of her former players; Lillian, Bridget, Dorothy and Elizabeth to name a few. Many of whom were returning to the CAC program for the second or third time. Then we had a group of 6 female teachers from Masvingo who travelled 400k by bus to come learn how to impact their primary and secondary students in their area. All these women were strong, powerful, outspoken and well respected by every man in the course. During the week through the CAC games and group work about Gender Equality, Child Rights, and Healthy Behaviors these women made sure their opinions were heard and that they garnered respect from everyone in the course.
A few of these women mentioned above, then came together again later after the week was done along with other female sport leaders in Zimbabwe. Nora introduced the women to CAC’s ASK for Choice Curriculum. These women met for discussions about first how to support one another in their challenges and second to start to form a Women’s Sports Leaders Group with the support of the SRC. To be apart of these discussions was great for me, as we have similar challenges in the US and I have been active lately in the growth of the female voice in soccer back home.
Another one of the key people who not only drove us around all week, but made it a goal to make sure that we were able to watch the Euros at the local pub was Julius. Julius was the epitome of the power of sport. During the week we found out that Julius had lived recently and gone to school in Leipzig, Germany, was a PE teacher and coach at Cornway College, which is a private school outside of Harare. Julius also was graduate of the University of Zimbabwe. Besides liking Man U, 😉 Julius was a wonderful, thoughtful and kind host. He showed us the underlying passion, spirit and drive of many of the coaches we met in Harare. We were able to meet a few of his players during the week and very much saw the mutual respect and caring between Julius and the young men that he coaches.
Then there was Wisdom, whose contagious energy, passion and zest for soccer was evident from the smile and joy he exuded every time you were around him. When playing a CAC adapted game that we would typically identify as “Partner Steal the Bacon”, instead of being given a number your groups of two were identified first by issues surrounding child rights, such as child abuse, child labor, early marriage. Then the game switched and your group was identified by a solution to the issues, such as education, or communication. Wisdom’s group wanted Love to be the solution. This solution struck a chord with me.
LOVE, and in this case our common love of soccer brought this amazing group of coaches together for a week. Love for our players, love for competition, love for the world sport of soccer. This experience was nothing like the coaching courses that I teach back home. Sure we shared your basic soccer activities for kids, but real social issues were discussed, and more importantly people shared their love and passion for the game and made friendships and connections that hopefully they will carry with them forever. I feel fully confident that each participant will apply something that they learned from this week and utilize it in their own environment. I will take home new friendships, a new dance or two, a couple words of Shona, and a much deeper appreciation for the world through love for the beautiful game.
I Have A Voice, Listen To Me!
CAC SDL coach Markus Bensch blogs from Kathmandu, Nepal with Go Sports Nepal.
December 15th 2015. I arrived in Kathmandu on Saturday, November 29th for my last on-field program this year with our partner Go Sports Nepal and its founder Sunil Shrestha. As we started on Monday I was very happy to see almost equally as many women as men who were ready to play. We started off with ‘Circle of Friends’, a warm-up game where players warm-up their bodies, minds and voices. This game is a lot of fun and creates high energy as some players go through the center of the circle doing an exercise (i.e. high knees) and then find a person on the outside to go to. For the exchange both players do a move (i.e. high five) and use their voice by saying something such as their name or favorite football player. As usual on the first day the voices were very low and people didn’t speak up. This was a clear teachable moment and I talked with the participants about the importance of our voice for building confidence, to communicate, express ourselves and many more. It is always amazing how the volume increases as the week progresses. This week was no different. By Thursday the participants led the Circle by themselves and there was a lot of laugher, screaming and shouting.
But the change of voice does not only happen during Circle of Friends. People also speak up more and more during the social impact talks that are related to each of our games and I see this change particularly with female participants. In many communities I work, girls and women are not supposed to raise their voice in front of their male counterparts and they are not encouraged to speak up publicly. We addressed this issue through our games. One of them is a version of Circle of Friends where the players say things that are empowering girls and women, i.e. “I have a voice, listen to me!” or “I am woman/man, I want to play!” As a coach I also create a safe space and a platform where female participants can speak up and to be listened to.
On Tuesday I introduced our female role model Marta who is a Brazilian footballer and five times Ballon d’Or Award winner. Many male players got confused and assumed that I was talking about Juan Mata, Manchester United’s midfielder and Spanish national team player. Finally one of the women raised her voice and said: “No, she is a female player and comes from Brazil.” During the game reviews I realized how powerful Marta was for the female participants. A group of women prepared the game Marta Skills for Life and in the Social Impact section they wrote down all the details about Marta’s story and how women can do everything that men can do. It’s amazing to see how smart and intelligent these young women are and how much they absorb everything that gives them the vision of a different life with more freedom and more choices. At the same time it makes me wonder how hard it must be for them to always hold back their thoughts and creativity, because society doesn’t believe that they have any valuable contribution to important matters.
On Friday we ran our coach-back session and we included the children from SJ Primary School, who allowed us to use their sport court for the whole week. We started again with ‘Circle of Friends’ and I was surprised that the children were not shy at all, but rather had strong voices and there was a lot of laughter and excitement. I was happy to see these young girls and boys play together so blithely. My last On-Field week this year was truly inspiring and these amazing participants will remain in my memory. In future every time I witness how girls are held down and have to keep quiet I will remember these girls and women in Kathmandu who realized that they “can also change the world when they get the opportunity”.
A Planned City Without A Plan For Choice
CAC volunteer Savannah Schinto talks about her experiences in Brasilia, Brazil with Futebol Social.
June 16th 2015. To “say” something and to “do” something are two very different statements, this is ever evident in the Brazilian culture. Our first day with the students and coaches at Universidade Catolica was chaotic, 67 eager to learn students, to three coaches was quite far from the expected 30 students. This was our first taste of the difference between saying and doing.
Every 15 seconds a women is assaulted in Brazil.
It is widely know that Marta, a Brazilian Women’s national team player, is considered the best female player in the world, and it has been this way for many years. Although this is true, and the Brazilian Women’s team is recognized as a top team in the world, they aren’t always welcomed as players on the pitch. This is where saying and doing become very different statements.
As of 2012, there are between 530,00 and 660,000 people living with HIV in Brazil.
When talking about HIV, AIDS, and general healthy behavior habits, these students had all of the right information. Here was the second taste of saying over doing. Student’s can recall the facts, and the methods of prevention or treatment, but education alone is not enough to evoke the positive social change needed. These student’s wish to be a positive change in the world, and by recognizing that educating alone is not enough, they now strive to be the first step toward positive social change.
This past week should be considered a success for the year two program in Brasilia. After the first day, coaches were jumping in with ideas of how to adapt games for education, health, and children’s rights. Choice should not be a challenge any longer.
He for She with Isha Vidhya
December 15, 2014. Senior Staff, Nora Dooley, shares her thoughts on our last program in India for 2014 with the Isha Foundation in Coimbatore, India.
“Can men take care of babies?” – “YES!”
“Can men cook and clean?” – “YES!”
“Can men stay at home while women work?” – Another, resounding, “YES!”
Thirty men and boys in perfect unison; they chant, “YES” for gender equality. And three women sigh and shake their heads.
For my final program of 2014, I return to Coimbatore for the third year of our partnership with the Isha Foundation. This year sees some familiar faces from years past, but the majority of the participants are new to CAC. We have a nice mélange of teachers and students, adding depth and energy to every game and discussion.
We do not have a nice mélange of gender.
An easy choice by both parties – CAC and Isha – gender equity quickly became this year’s priority. Such a nice term, ‘gender equity’. Equity. Equality. But what does it mean? To you? To me?
Many cheer for equality, but few take the time to find their personal motive for why we need to empower women and girls.
So we play. And play and play. Marta Skills for Life. Mia Hamm Skills for Life. Who is Marta? Who is Mia Hamm?
Powerful. Female. Role Models.
Marta for Gender Equity: How can we get more girls on the pitch? If you score a goal, use your voice to empower your teammates – “You can do it!”, they shout. Rapinoe for Gender Equity: Four words for the ideal man: “Strong!” “Legend!” “Noble!” “Superior!” The four teams stand in four corners on the pitch, one for each word. When I call two words the groups standing in the corresponding boxes switch places as fast as possible – running, skipping, dancing, like animals, with a ball. Now four words for your ideal woman: “Beautiful!” “Gentle!” “Smart-look!” “Colorful!” We play again.
Falcao for Gender Equity: One team has three goals to score on; the other team only has one. We play. “Is this game fair?” “No!” Suarez for Gender Equity: Three goals at each end that represent words that empower girls. The participants call out, “education!”, “employment!”, and “choice!”. Everybody must walk and if they score a goal and shout the empowering word, they can run. Perpetua for Gender Equity: What are some traditional roles for men in your community? – Driver, builder, farmer, fisherman, businessman, army, shoemaker, barber. And women? – Beauty parlor, housewife, baby-care, cooking, cleaning, nurse, stitching. When I call out a job – the players assigned that role run onto the field and play 2v2, 4v4, etc. We play.
“Can men be beautiful?” – “YES!”
“Can men take care of babies?” – “YES!”
“I see you shaking your head, Lakshmi (a participant for all three years of CAC programs), why?”
“Because I do not see.”
And therein lies the rub.
There is too often an abyss between policy and practice. Between awareness and behavior. I know unprotected sex is the leading cause of HIV, and yet? I know I am not legally allowed to hit this child with a stick when she misbehaves, and yet?
I know I’m supposed to jump on the #femaleempowerment / #genderequality / #heforshe bandwagon… and?
How do we bridge this daunting gap? With a ball, perhaps?
We think so. By the end of the program it felt more like the male-dominated group actually believed in what they were saying, and the women were standing up for themselves. It is a slow, uphill trek, but probably the most important climb in the world.
So, can men take care of babies? Can women play football?
YES! … if that is their choice. What is yours?
Go, Slum Soccer, Go
December 10, 2014. Volunteer, Billy Hawkey, writes about the first of two weeks back in Nagpur, India with long-time partner, Slum Soccer.
We landed in Nagpur a little after 9 pm on Sunday night. I had heard about Slum Soccer mostly through the 2014 CAC documentary, but still knew very little about who they really were. Sophie told me that we are in the fourth year of our partnership, they have completed the Hat-Trick Initiative and are in many ways a model program. But what did that mean? I needed to see it for myself.
As we sat in the kitchen of our guest house, 100 yards away from the all dirt pitch, like normal we discussed a plan for the week with our partner. However, this meeting was different than all the previous meetings I had been a part of over the past two and a half months. “Ronaldo?” we asked.
“The new Marta for Gender Equity?”
“Yes, we played it.”
I thought to myself, “what are we going to do this week? They know everything!” The participants for the week had just been through a two-day training conducted by the Slum Soccer coaches in which they played all the games from our Ronaldo, Marta, and Wambach role models; they played Old Trafford Tag, Scary Soccer, and more. “So they know how to coach our games?” I asked Sophie; “Oh yes” she said in a very assuring voice, “they’re creating games.”
I was quickly starting to get a picture of the cumulative impact that CAC has on its partners. As the week progressed I would see just how self-sustaining Slum Soccer is and how deeply ingrained CAC is in their organization. But for now, as we sat in the kitchen, we needed to come up with a fresh plan for day one. We would begin with Mia Hamm day.
As I sat in the Slum Soccer classroom on Monday morning, as participants were filing in, I looked around the room and admired the graffiti art on the wall of Wayne Rooney, Neymar, Messi and Abby Wambach; all CAC role models.
The participants were Slum Soccer’s second batch of first year youth leaders. They were a cohesive group, who were just as passionate in the classroom discussions and activities as they were on the field. Our child rights training/discussion during the middle of the week was quite interesting. The various forms of abuse that children in Nagpur suffer from and the extreme imbalance of power between the child-adult relationship was the early focus of the conversation. For the most part, children in Nagpur do not receive respect or support from adults, and are fearful to approach them. Sexual abuse was noted to be a major issue for women in Nagpur, which shifted our discussion to the topic of rape. One man said that if a girl is wearing provocative clothing than it is her fault if she is raped. This fired up the group, both men and women, who argued otherwise, and many voices in the room weighed in on this issue, eventually reaching the consensus that it is never the victims’ fault.
On the field the next day we played Know Your Rights, as a follow up to the strong discussion we had the day before. Players are divided into two teams, with a large circle separating the two. Five cones are evenly spread out around the outside of the circle. Each cone represents a different child right. The group designated them as: the right to decide, the right to play sports, the right to an education, the right to information, and the right to have a voice. Two players from each team enter the circle and jog around. When the coach yells out a right, the players must run as fast as they can to the correct cone. The first team with both players to reach the cone gets a point. We played many rounds, adding more players in the circle, more complex rules, and of course, some dance moves to replace the jogging. The game was full of energy and it continued our message of child rights and why those rights are important.
Throughout the week I enjoyed observing the Slum Soccer coaches and staff display their knowledge and understanding of the CAC methodology. From time to time the young Slum Soccer coaches would step in and help us coach, and play some of the new games that they invented including games related to voting, traffic, and keeping the environment clean. I was impressed by the work Slum Soccer is doing, and how they have assimilated the CAC games and values for using sport for social impact into their organization. The work they are doing with local slum children is amazing, and everyone involved with Slum Soccer has bought in to the strong culture they have created.
On Sunday we visited a farm with some Slum Soccer friends, picked sweet limes and guava fruit from the trees, hiked to a damn, and had a great home cooked chicken lunch. Throughout the day there were cries of “Marta 1!”, “Wambach 2!”, “Solve your problem!” and lots of laughter.
December 3, 2014. Volunteer Coach Billy Hawkey tells us about his time with CAC On-Field in Punjab, India working with YFC Rurka Kalan. Billy first joined us in October for two weeks in Lima working with Unicef Peru.
After two weeks in Delhi, arriving in Punjab was literally a breath of fresh air. Vast fields of potatoes, corn, wheat, sugar cane, kinnos groves, and farms in all directions. Shining stars and cool, crisp nights, the agriculturally rich state of Punjab provided a stark contrast to the country’s buzzing and beeping capital.
When we arrived at the YFC Rurka Kalan headquarters we were taken out to walk the field and get a lay of the land for where we would be for the week. The stadium was pristine, and the well kept natural grass pitch was flat, wide, and green. We all sensed that it was going to be a good week.
After walking the field we met inside the office with Prateek, a member of YFC, over a cup of chai to discuss the expectations and goals for the week, as well as familiarize ourselves with the local social issues. The main problems that were identified were substance abuse and gender equality (or lack there of). We assured Prateek that these issues would be addressed during the week with various games from our curriculum.
We learned that 60% of Punjab’s youth are believed to be using medical or synthetic drugs and that 1 in 3 households in Punjab have a drug addict living in their home. It is easy for Punjabi children to succumb to drug and alcohol abuse simply because they have nothing else to do. That is why at YFC, the players have structured training 320 of the 365 days of the year.
Gender equality is also a major issue in Punjab. Girls are confined by tradition which views sport as a male hobby. Society’s dominant stance on women in the community is that they belong in the home. For this weeks’ training we were going to be working with a group of predominantly young female leaders in the morning from 9-1, and a boys team in the afternoon from 2-6. One of the reasons for this was because from 2-6, women in Punjab are supposed to be in the home working.
Our days began with a half mile walk to the YFC center from our guest house down the road. We had breakfast at8:00 a.m. in the YFC kitchen. Breakfast consisted of omelets, bananas, cereal with hot milk, juice, toast, stuffed chapatti, and of course, chai. Chai is like water in India; at the end of a game during the week, kneeling over at the knees and out of breath, a man exclaimed “I need, chai!”. The kitchen always smelled amazing. Hot chapatti being turned out every minute, and local organic vegetables being seasoned and prepared the Punjabi way.
YFC has a residential facility that houses an elite u-14 boys team comprised of high level players from all over India. The boys live here for several years training and attending school which overlooks the main field. At 9:00 a.m. we began classroom sessions with our first group, approximately 40 individuals, 30 of whom were females. These sessions included “What makes a good coach?”, review of the games that we played from the previous day, group presentations, and a child rights discussion/training. By 10:00 a.m. we were on the field ready to play.
On the first day the majority of women arrived in their saris and sandals. Despite the fact that we suggested they wear athletic clothes, the group was comfortable in their outfits and continued to sport their colorful silks for the rest of the week (but with a few more sneakers). The group was new to futbol, but eager to learn. An older woman revealed that this was the first time she’d ever played a sport. Being 50 years old, she explained that old tradition had kept her away from sports, and that her parents and society saw no value in it, especially for girls; an idea that is still held by many in India. However she was ready to break away from the restrictions of traditional society, and proved to be a symbol of change and courage for everyone. Her story sparked an applause from the group; and she demonstrated first hand a core belief of CAC, that is to challenge and question tradition.
At this point Community Impact Coach, Guru, asked the group to look around and notice something. All of the women were standing shoulder to shoulder in the front, and all the men were standing together in the back. “That’s old Punjab” Guru exclaimed, “we want New Punjab”, and with a slight hesitation, the group intermixed the genders. Boys and girls don’t play sports together in Punjab. At least until now.
A game that brought this message to life was Marta for Gender Equity. In this game two teams play a game of futbol to goals. However, one team plays with all of their players and the other team plays with only half. This creates an 8v4 situation. The four players sitting out represent women and their team represents only the men participating in society. The other team with all eight players represents a cohesive community in which both men and women are utilized. After about 10 minutes we brought the group together to discuss. The excluded players said it wasn’t fun or fair to have to sit and watch. It was noticed how much better the full team did in this game, just as a society functioning with all of its resources similarly is more successful. Teams reversed roles so the other group could experience how it feels to be excluded from participating in sports. Finally, the third progression starts with both teams playing 4v4. When a team scores a goal they get to bring another player on; representing empowering a female to play. This must be done by verbally communicating an empowering message to the women on the sidelines. The energy and excitement on the faces of the players, especially the men, when they had the chance to bring on a female, was amazing. I watched a man sprint to the sideline with a huge smile on his face, screaming in Punjabi and lift a woman to her feet to play. This was not just a product of the competitiveness of the game; these powerful sentiments for equal opportunity for women in sport was expressed genuinely and proudly by the men in the discussions. It was acknowledged that if women had the same opportunities to train and develop starting at the same age as men, then they would be just as skillful. YFC is hoping to achieve this by training their female youth leaders and starting women’s teams this season.
At the end of a midweek session we drank more chai, sang and danced on the field and a small talent show was conducted as well. Definitely a new way of cooling down.
After a delicious lunch, we switched gears and began our afternoon session with the YFC boys team. These boys, all dressed in their light blue training kits, were ready to play. The pace was quicker with the afternoon group; the ball zipped around the field in one and two touch, and players were sliding into their tackles.
An impactful day was our Gazza day, with four games centered around substance abuse. Discussion questions included why people engage in anti-social behaviors, the effects of abuse on the individual and the community, safe spaces, support systems, and good decisions. One game in particular that held a strong impact was Gazza scrimmage. Two teams play a scrimmage to goals, one tem must walk at all times and the other team has no limitations. The walking team represents alcohol/drug addicts, who have clearly had their athletic abilities hindered by sustained substance abuse. This game followed Gazza dizzy tag, in which taggers must first spin around 10 times (or 20 if Guru is leading) before chasing players, exhibiting the immediate effects of intoxication. Gazza scrimmage shifts the message to an addiction and the effects it has on your life over time, and the effect it has on the community. The walking team got smacked, and the game bridged a discussion of alcohol and substance abuse and how it’s bad for relationships, school, functioning in society, and sports. It was clear by the discussion that these boys have chosen futbol as an alternative to drugs and alcohol.
The two groups we had this week were unique and equally enjoyable. The week flew by and both groups understood the objective of the training as evidence of the coach back sessions on the final day in which participants are put in small groups and have the opportunity to lead games on their own that we did over the course of the week, adapt them how they would like, and even invent new games if they please. The coaches demonstrated confidence in their coaching and incorporated the social messages fluently.
Until this training, YFC had focused mainly on player development in their sessions, without integrating social messages in games. But they are ready for change. They are ready for New Punjab.
Side note: In the nights I played with people from town under the lights on the YFC pitch. Guru and I combined for a few nice goals. On our day off we traveled to the Golden Temple in Amritsar, and visited the India/Pakistan border for a closing ceremony between the two country’s army officials.