• Give Us A Problem… We’ll Address It With Sport

    August 4th 2016. CAC’s second year partnering with Menelik Education in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

    Problem: Corruption

    Corruption is an epidemic with greedy claws gripping the international community. Sometimes it dons an invisibility cloak. Other times it stares you straight in the eyes. When corruption made itself abundantly visible to the ignorant members of the global football family, the beautiful game felt violated. So why not use that very game to stimulate dialogue on the issue?

    Solution: Sport

    The group of coaches is split into four teams. Each team lines up behind one of four cones equidistant from each other and from the center of the space. In the center lay scattered pieces of any kind of material – cones, bibs, balls, or anything (safe) that a coach can get their hands on. On this day we have cones and bibs aplenty.

    The first task: one person at a time from each team sprints to the middle, selects one piece of equipment, brings it back to their team, tags the next person, and joins the end of their team’s line. Continue until all the equipment is out of the middle. Simple? Simple. 1-2-3-Go!

    We have a mix of misunderstanding and outright cheating. We clarify rules – one person at a time, one piece of equipment at a time, and the next person must wait until they are tagged before they go. What’s the difference between making a mistake and cheating? Great – we’re on the same page.

    Task two: This time each team has a goal of 6 pieces of equipment total and must decide how many of each type will make up the 6. For example they can set their goal at 4 cones and 2 bibs or 3 cones and 3 bibs. Then we will see which team has achieved their goal.

    We allow the teams a few minutes. We hear their goals. We take away some equipment to ensure chaos. We test their concentration with some start-when-I-say-go-1-2-3-begins. We play.

    CHEATING!

    We ask if they saw any cheating. They all point fingers at the other teams. We ask if anyone will own to cheating. A few raise hands. We praise their honesty. We ask why they think people, in general, are motivated to cheat? They discuss. We listen.

    The desire to win at all costs. Because other people are. Because everyone else is.

    How do you feel if you win by cheating? How do you feel if you lose but did not cheat? Why is the fear of failure greater than the fear of dishonesty?

    Idea pause. Let’s play again. Do you want to play with or without cheating? Without? Okay let’s give it a go.

    Third task: Same rules. But this time once all the equipment is gone from the middle you can begin taking stuff from the other teams. All previous rules remain though – one person at a time, one piece at a time, etc. If you want you can adjust your goals. One minute, then we play. 1-2-3-Go!

    Good… gooooood… okayyy… niiiice… well done… uh oh… oh no… here we go…. OH MY CHEATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Absolute chaos. Let’s explore. What happened?

    Some more accusations. Laughter. Some honest reflections. Some delicious silence.

    Cheating was infectious. Like corruption? How do people become corrupt in your community? How can you prevent corruption? They discuss. We listen.

    The group of 30 coaches from Boma, DRC organized by CAC partner Menelik Education, was curious with a dash of skepticism that sport could be used to teach subjects like sexual health and corruption. After growing better acquainted with our methodology and several CAC games, we hope they believe in the power of sport. A power, like any, that can be bent towards destruction… unless we choose otherwise, unafraid to fail, praising honesty and vulnerability as we explore the chaos.

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  • Perspective in Kinshasa

    CAC board member and volunteer Jamie Reilly blogs about his last of 7 weeks On-Field with Menelik in Kinshasa, DRC.

    August 26th 2015. Lawyers and soldiers. Men and women. 4 year olds and 50 year olds. The diversity of the program participants during our week in Kinshasa was unlike any other during my 7 weeks on-field with Coaches Across Continents. Given the scale and scope of challenges facing the people of the Democratic Republic of Congo, it makes sense that such a broad cross section of people would come together to find new ways to bring positive change to their communities.

    DRC has been the host of one of the longest and bloodiest wars since World War II, claiming over 5 million lives between 1998 and 2003. While the loss of life is tragic, the lingering trauma of the civil war continues to destabilize the lives of tens of millions more throughout the country as it struggles to move forward.

    Our partner, The Menelik Partnership for Education, was created to help bring resources and support to the most vulnerable populations in DRC.  They support schools, run orphanages, provide access to legal representation, IT training, language lessons – the list goes on – in communities throughout the DRC. Sports, and football in particular, are a key part of their efforts to change mindsets and help stop violence and discrimination against women, children and especially young girls.  

    Throughout the week we gathered in the schoolyard of the Ecole St. Georges where Menelik has it’s Kinshasa office and introduced this varied group of about 50 participants to using Sport for Social Impact. The CAC curriculum challenged the group to work together in new ways. There was no lack of enthusiasm for any of the games and activities, but at times this enthusiasm prevented participants from taking time to really understand the full scope of the activity or task. In classroom discussions, participants noted how the CAC activities – especially those focused on problem solving and conflict resolution – will help them develop better listening skills and to fully think through challenges to create the kind of future they want for DRC.

    Of equal impact were the games and discussions focused on gender equity. For many, it was their first opportunity to voice their opinion, hear a different perspective and to actually engage in a discussion about the issue.  With so many different backgrounds, there was a wide range of opinions, but as a result of the discussion, both the men and the women left with a new sense of what might be possible for girls and women in DRC.

    As Theodore Menelik drove me through the congestion of Kinshasa to catch my flight back to the US, we made a quick stop at an orphanage they run in Kinshasa. This was my second visit with these wonderful kids; we made a visit earlier in the week to play some games one afternoon.

    As the kids greeted me again with their laughter and grins, it put the past week, and my past seven weeks with CAC in perspective. Despite facing such unimaginable challenges as they start their lives, these children have so much joy, intelligence and potential. Fortunately, there are groups like the Menelik Partnership for Education that step in to give these kids a better chance at meeting those challenges. The training and support CAC provides helps create new ways of thinking, new skills and habits and new approaches for Menelik and the children they serve to solve the problems in their community. I have been privileged to join in these efforts.

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