• A Marriage in Social Impact

    December 17, 2014. Week 2 with Slum Soccer Nagpur brought to us by volunteer, Billy Hawkey.

    The setting was the same for our second week in Nagpur with Slum Soccer. Our participants for the week had already been through at least one CAC training. Some had participated in the training a year ago, others were a part of the training just one week prior. We had Community Impact Coaches and Slum Soccer senior staff members. The group knew what football for social impact meant, and they were familiar with the CAC methodology and values.

    This week Sophie and I had a goal to introduce new role models and as many new games as possible. To achieve this we had two separate on-field sessions every day, in addition to our classroom sessions. We were asking a lot of the group, we were going to challenge them, but they were ready.

    On day one we covered our Suarez and Hope Solo games. Day two was financial literacy and Perpetua games and the third day we played new child right’s games.  The games were new to the experienced coaches, which kept them engaged and having a blast. They were able to identify the social messages with ease, and so we challenged them frequently by asking how they would adapt the games to fit different social issues.

    Throughout the week the group had been planning games that they were going to invent and coach on the fourth and final day. The creativity and ideas they had were great. The topics included the dowry system, organic farming, rape, conflict resolution, the rights of children with disabilities, and child labor. They coached the games exceptionally; they were confident, well organized, and clear. They facilitated fluid discussions of the social impact related to their games. It was very fun to sit back and watch them at work. Slum Soccer is continuing to invent new games including math education games dealing with profit and loss (Did you even think it was possible to teach that through football?).

    An impactful game from the week was Suarez for Gender Equity. In this game two teams play a scrimmage with three goals to defend, and three goals to attack. Each goal represents a different way to empower women. The goals represented education, sports, and support. To begin, all players must walk. When an individual scores a goal, they must yell the empowering message and then they have the freedom to run. It took a few minutes for the first team to break even, but then we quickly had two running players, then three, four, and before you knew it everyone on the field was running. The quick increase in running players was due to the running players helping their teammates by giving good support, or dribbling fast around walking defenders and laying it off for a teammate to finish right in front of goal. This game represented the impact that empowering women has on a community. It has been shown that when empowered, women will give back and help their community more than men, just as in the game the empowered individuals helped their team reach its full potential.

    Slum Soccer was an extremely fun group to work with and the relationship between CAC and Slum Soccer is special. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with them. We joked on several occasions that Slum Soccer and CAC are like a married couple; sharing the same thoughts and often pronouncing a great idea just seconds before the other intended to say the same thing. Slum soccer is adding programs of Edu-Kick, Shakti Girls Program, Slum Soccer on the Road, and Youth Leaders Training. They currently have centers in Nagpur and Chennai and are expanding to Delhi, Mumbai, and Kolkata. 2015 is going to be an exciting year for the CAC and Slum Soccer partnership.

    In the evenings I played in friendly matches with the coaches, some of the participants, and the u14 Slum Soccer team. However one game in particular stood out. The Chai Game.

    I was feeling a little tired after a long day on the field, and was leaning towards calling it a day and hitting the bucket shower early. That’s when I was told “It’s chai game!” I needed no further persuading. I was up off the bench and on the field within seconds.

    Winning team gets chai; losing team serves. Throughout the game there was a sense of urgency in everyone’s voice. I couldn’t understand the exact content of what was being said, but the word “chai” was always in there. I would sporadically just scream out “chai!” to fit in. The game is up there for one of the most intense games I’ve been apart of, right next to games vs. Amherst. I am proud to say that I was victorious in my first career Chai match; however no chai was drank that night… we were all out of milk.

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  • Loud and Proud

    November 12, 2014.  Volunteer Ali Pleiman speaks about her first week working with CAC at Naz Goal Mumbai.

    Caught in a whirlwind of bright colors and honking horns. Everywhere I look, I see people. The rich and the poor are intermixed with cats, dogs, cows, goats, trash, and beautiful trees. It seems like mayhem, but it’s not- it’s Mumbai! Somehow there’s this rhythm in which all things are living and moving together. All I can do is marvel at the organized chaos around me and try not to get run over. This indefinable energy didn’t slow down once we hit the field; it manifested in the smiling faces around me, showing enthusiasm every step of the way.

    This week we worked with Naz Goal, a netball organization in their third and final year of the Hat-Trick Initiative. They explained to us that “Naz” means “proud,” and after meeting these bright young women, I can see why the name is such a good fit. Of all the life skills we touched on this week, the one that stood out the most for this group was the power of using one’s voice.

    Although we were constantly in a state of play, sporadic interjections for reflection and discussion would highlight the real world significance for this skill, Off-Field as well as On-Field. With this element built into many of the games, I could see how their confidence rose with their voices and drastically improved their communication. They were ready for the challenge that is Year 3: “Create.”

    This strength shined through even more in the collaborative process as they were positioned to pick a problem and design a game from scratch. Everyone was engaged in the trial and error that followed, encouraged to solve their own problems when obstacles presented themselves. Female empowerment was a resounding theme that only intensified as time went on. As more and more girls were eager to voice their opinions and ideas, there were more opportunities to challenge the existing order of things and make the distinction between chance and choice in their culture- using your voice for your choice.

    It was truly amazing to watch the progression throughout the week. It became blatantly obvious just how much one’s self-esteem can contribute to the pursuit of a goal. This simple truth is so easy to forget and I was grateful that I could be reminded of its impact.

    I was so inspired and impressed that I often felt these girls were coaching me more than I was coaching them. This is truly a testament to how effective the CAC initiative is at work, establishing self-directed learners in this community. As this was my first volunteering experience, I lucked out that right off the bat I was able to see how the CAC program comes full circle.

    “The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves” Steven Spielberg.

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    It’s all smiles working in Mumbai

    Ali and Nora celebrating our partnership with Naz Goal

    Ali and Nora celebrating our partnership with Naz Goal

  • CAC does Netball for Social Impact

    December 3, 2013. Sorry did I say netball? I meant foot… no, no, netball. That’s right. CAC coaches Sophie Legros, Nora Dooley, Sarah Brown, and CIC Homkant Surandase from Slum Soccer, stepped off the football pitch and onto the netball court for two weeks working with NAZ GOAL (nerd-alert! not be confused with the hobbit-hunting ring-wraiths in Tolkein’s classic). These two trainings in India were spent in Mumbai and then Delhi with two great groups of young leaders having a real impact on their communities.

    mumbai scaryOur first week in Mumbai stands as the second year we have sent coaches to work with this team from NAZ. Our staff were very impressed by the manner in which this group presented themselves to us – who they are, what they currently do, what they want to do, and what they need from our team to make the most of our time in Mumbai and to have the greatest possible impact on the communities they work in. The communication was refreshing and the week kicked off – or should I say passed off? – to a great start.

    IMG_0254The participants consisted partly of peer leaders from the GOAL program. These are young female GOAL participants that are emerging as leaders among their peers and are pursuing the opportunity to play a more active role in their community. The rest of the group was made up of Community Sports Coaches (CSCs) and Senior Coaches. The CSCs are girls who have developed from peer leaders into coaches, and the Senior Coaches are young women – and one man! – who have come into their own as role models to the others, leading all things NAZ GOAL throughout Mumbai and beyond.

    sophie and coachThe priority for this week, as communicated to us by the NAZ senior leaders, was for us to go through each GOAL game thoroughly to ensure that all participants understand how the game connects with the social message, and how to balance the dynamic between GOAL games and GOAL classroom activities. To assist in this effort we asked to be taken to a GOAL classroom session at a school so we, CAC, could better understand that aspect of the program. Our team started the day off by coaching the GOAL participants, a large group of giggly young girls, in one of our Be Money Savvy games called Budgeting with Yelena. This is a game of tag where the taggers represent things we should not be spending our money on, or “wants”, and we ask the players to come up with examples. This group thought of makeup, fast food, parties, and jewelry to begin the game. We play the first round where the  “wants” chase everybody else and if they tag somebody they give them the cone and that person becomes the “want”. Then we add netballs. The netballs represent money. If a player has a ball she is safe and they must pass to each other to keep each other safe from the “wants”. But, if they drop a ball, or it goes out of bounds, they’ve lost the ball, the money. The players are forced to make smart, quick decisions to stay away from the “wants” and not lose their money. In life we must make good decisions and not spend our budget on the things we want but the things we need. We ask the girls after the game about “needs” and to give us examples of things in life that we need. This game corresponds with the classroom session “Wants and Needs” that we observed afterwards led by some of the CSCs. This activity expands on the differences between the things we want and those that we need, giving more examples, as well as giving the participants a sample budget and asking them how they would spend it.

    After this day we really understood what the NAZ Mumbai team needed and how we could best help them. The rest of the week was terrific and both groups left feeling satisfied that we accomplished our goals, enabling each other to do our jobs and achieve maximum impact.

    As we bid farewell to the heat of Mumbai, the wonderful YMCA where we stayed, and that incredible group of game-changers, we set our sights on Delhi, and prepared for the sensory overload that comes with the capital city.

    Same organization. Same country. That’s about all that was similar between our two weeks with NAZ GOAL.

    Delhi was a different state, different city, different group of participants, and a vastly different week overall.

    And that’s the beauty of Coaches Across Continents.

    homkant and naz goalInitially the program was to be the same with both groups, as we had previously planned with Senior Coaches from both cities. But just as we discover with every program, in every city/town/village, in every country we work in, plans change, adapt, transform as we begin to understand who we are working with, the dynamics of the group, the unique situation they are coming from, working in, striving for. It is all part of that magical CAC equation that yields success worldwide.

    NAZ GOAL Delhi is where NAZ began in India, and it was obvious from the outset that this program was farther along in terms of organizational structure, management and sheer size. A larger group of participants, made up mostly of peer leaders and CSCs, the priority for this group was for the younger members to step up as coaches and practice their leadership skills.

    Built in to the week were two of the regularly planned GOAL sessions where peer leaders and coaches run games and classroom activities for about 150 students from the school where we were working. The plan for these sessions was for the GOAL team to assist the CAC team with one game, and then run the second on their own. Our team decided to play Mia Hamm Communication in one massive circle with 150 screaming, hormonal teenagers. Good idea? Great idea! Chaos ensued, naturally, but who doesn’t love a bit of mayhem at the office? The students went absolutely nuts, especially the boys, but they were so happy, so excited to play, so eager to learn and listen to every single word we had to say, and spoke great English so we actually managed to get bits of the social message across – wow! That was a ton of fun.

    The young leaders were great all week. At each and every session they could not wait to play, learn netball skills (from our CAC master netball coaches, of course), and participate in discussions about everything from the importance of budgeting and saving money, to keeping our bodies healthy and how important it is for women to empower each other, for men to empower women, and for women to empower men.

    Another great week with NAZ GOAL, a long blog, and our last stop in India as we say bye to CIC Homkant and coaches Sophie, Nora, and Sarah finish up long trips on the field for one last program in the beautiful mountains of Nepal – jealous? Yep.

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