• I Will Be Strong!

    July 28, 2018.  Board member Dr. Judith Gates is with our team, back in Kigoma, Tanzania where we held our first-ever program ten years ago. #CAC10.  #WhatsYourLegacy?

    “I Will Be Strong!”

    These were the final words I heard amidst all of the goodbyes, exchange of email addresses and chatter about selfie photo ops that invariably mark the end of a Coaches Across Continents programme. Teachers and coaches were jostling with each other and sharing plans as to how they were going to put all they had learned that week into practice. The group of students, identifiable by their green uniforms, were talking enthusiastically about new insights gained.

    She came up to me. Tall and athletically built, she unexpectedly hugged me, kissed my cheek and said, “Thank you. I will be strong!”

    My spirits soared. I understood what she was saying. I knew what she meant.

    This week’s programme was to mark the 10th anniversary of Coaches Across Continents. Ten years ago the very first CAC programme was held in Kigoma, Tanzania. CAC had returned to mark this important anniversary. It all began here. From one programme in one country in 2008, CAC is now working in over 50 countries around the world.

    All week, with Nick working alongside Nico as leader, the group had focussed on the challenging issue of Child Rights and Child Protection. Curriculum activities had included games in which participants had identified sources of potential harm, recognised the varying forms of abuse, identified who could be of help and which places could be considered safe. They had explored attitudes and expectations relevant to their local community. Teachers and students had shared ideas together during the games, but also worked separately to discuss factors which were specifically relevant to their age group or profession. They had then talked with each and demonstrated their capacity for understanding differing points of view.

    I had led a discussion on abuse. I asked which form of abuse, physical, emotional, verbal or sexual, was most prevalent in their community. Hesitation was minimal. The vast majority of both teachers and students cited sexual abuse. Teenage pregnancies were high. Girls were forced to marry at an early age. Hunger and poverty led to girls being sold, or selling themselves, sometimes for only a bag of rice. The boundary between Child Rights and Women’s Rights blurred as they explored the reality of life for young girls in their community.

    I asked teachers and students, each in their separate group, to think about what could be done, how things could improve. Acknowledging the problem openly was seen as key. The students suggested media reporting, government intervention. Their message was clear. We deserve support and help. Children should not have to experience these things. Teachers suggested education and parental involvement. Both groups wanted answers and action. The aspiration of the girl students was to complete their education and find a job, so that their subsequent life decisions were made from a position of relative strength.

    The final words I shared with them were about personal responsibility. We can turn to others to make the changes we want, but we each have the capacity to influence in some way the context in which we live. I asked them to be strong. I asked them to contribute to the changes they hoped for.

    I told them they each could be part of the solution, they each could contribute to making Kigoma an even better community.

    And she had heard me. Her final words were of latent power, of commitment, of hope. “I will be strong!” That is the message CAC endeavours to leave behind, hoping that it will take root and contribute to locally desired community changes around the world. Another first for Kigoma!

    ~ Dr. Judith Gates

  • Thank You CAC: Humbling Words From a Pemba Participant

    May 18th 2016. This blog comes to us from the words of a participant (Hassan) in his speech to CAC staff and guests during the certificate ceremony in Pemba, in partnership with the Zanzibar Football Association, the Ministry of Sports, and Save the Children.

    Honorable Minister of Sports, Assistant Minister of Sports, Our coaches Mr. Nick and Madam Nora:

    First of all we would like to thank all of you for conducting good, well and enjoyable training for one week. Apart from that we make a promise in front of you that we will protect children and we will stand in front of any who struggle for their rights.

    Our trainers:

    We have special thanks to you for your cooperation during training and general speaking we can’t deny that we enjoy your tactics, techniques, and your innovation. You have bring us in a safe space and now we will use your knowledge and experience we get from you and impart it to our children.

    Uncountable thanks should be received to the first coach in the world, Mr. Nicky, for organizing us and make us to feel free all over the time during the training. Throughout the training we learned that:

    • Women can do well in sports if they will be supported
    • We understand that children have knowledge
    • We learn that we should give our children choice
    • We learn that we ought to talk with children and not talk to children

    Frankly speaking we have learned a lot and we will use all them for social impacts.

    Special thanks I send it as my reward to Madam Nora – for teaching us Kuku dance, a lot we may forget… but never Kuku dance.

    We have nothing to give our coaches for excellent work they have done to us except to tell them: Thank you very much for what you have done and we will use knowledge for social impacts.

    Thanks; Goodbye; See you again; Relax and have a safe journey.

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  • Organizational Transformation in Hawthorne

    February 16, 2015. Our partnership with Chevrolet FC recently opened a new futsal facility in Hawthorne, California. Located in the center of town and under the supervision of the Hawthorne Police and the Parks and Recreation Department, this facility has an opportunity to create a new dynamic within the community. Throughout the United States, too often news is being made between conflict between the police and its citizens. As part of The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, communities should have the opportunity to engage with local law enforcement; participate in meetings, surveys, and other activities as well as participate in problem-solving efforts to reduce crime and improve quality of life.

    One such initiative is the new soccer fields in Hawthorne. They now serve as a safe space for police officers and the communities to come together and learn from each other. For the past two weeks, Coaches Across Continents has been working with the Hawthorne Police, the local school system, and local businesses such as SpaceX so that the community leaders have the skills necessary to engage children and community members on the soccer fields to create positive relationships.

    Even though the courts are only a few days old, several success stories are already emerging. One is concerning a young local girl who has had a few negative interactions with the police. One evening, a local police officer took it upon himself to stop by her house to invite her and her brothers to the new soccer fields. On opening night, she was one of the first people onto the court, playing with other children and engaging in a positive manner with the local police and other community members. It is positive interactions such as this that will help to create strong working relationships so that in future there are not difficulties between the police and the community. The safe space created by Chevrolet FC is helping this community undergo positive transformation and to hopefully serve as a model for other communities to follow.

    In the coming weeks and months, we expect to hear dozens more such stories, as well as see the transformation happening within the community from both police officers and community members. We will continue to keep you updated on this great story from our continuing corporate partnership.

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    Everyone is enjoying the new facility in Hawthorne!

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    Officer Julian playing at Prairie View Middle School

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    The new fields in Hawthorne are now Open for Play!

     

  • Star Power in Hawthorne

    February 8th, 2016. The stars came out in force for the launching of the Chevrolet FC pitch in Hawthorne, Los Angeles. The eighth project in our award-winning partnership with Chevrolet brought out Manchester United legend Dennis Irwin, LA Galaxy/USMNT and Hawthorne native Gyasi Zardes, LA Galaxy player and former England international Steven Gerard, LA Galaxy players A.J. DeLaGarza and Baggio Husidic, and team president and former USMNT player Chris Klein.

    This impressive group of individuals were there to witness the power of play and see the beautiful possibilities that Chevrolet FC creates. Hawthorne, California was where Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy) grew up.  As a child, Zardes was forbidden from playing in the park where they new pitches were created as they instituted a “no soccer” policy on park grounds.  However together with the Hawthorne Police Department and the Parks and Recreation Department, Chevrolet FC has helped to change attitudes as they built three new futsal pitches in place of some unused and derelict tennis courts. These futsal courts are now the focal point of the community.

    Coaches Across Continents has been working throughout the project with the LA Galaxy Foundation and the Hawthorne Police department to ensure that this safe space can be used for social impact, and that the local coaches, police officers, and community leaders have the skills to do so.  In future, Hawthorne may see more great players emerge from their community, and tens of thousands of children will be able to enjoy the facility and learn from the sport in their new space.

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    Putting the final touches on a mural of LA Galaxy player and Hawthorne hero Gyasi Zardes

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    Manchester United legend Dennis Irwin shows some boys and girls a few new skills

  • Quaking (With Laughter And Learning) in Bhaktapur!

    CAC perennial volunteer Graham Bradford writes about his week in Bhaktapur, Nepal with Childreach Nepal.

    December 16th 2015. Coaches Across Continents Founder,  Nick and 5 year returning volunteer Graham began a two week program with partner organization Childreach Nepal (CRN) in the historic and ancient city of Bhaktapur, a hour’s ride east of Kathmandu.  CRN is an organization with a holistic philosophy and approach to helping Nepali children realize their potential despite widespread poverty, and work in areas of education, child protection, health and enterprise.  The organization had been at the forefront of relief work and emergency shelter provision following the disastrous earthquake of April 2015, particularly in the mountainous region of Sindhupalchok, north of Kathmandu and where the CAC coaches would travel next week.

    Whilst not as badly affected as other areas, the earthquake caused significant damage across the city, including some of the wonderful historic temples in the immediate proximity to our accommodation. Houses on both sides of the hotel were essentially destroyed, although it was amazing and humbling to see families in the rubble seeking to rebuild brick-by-brick and at the same time surviving day-to-day hardships of poverty and increasingly cold nights. Following a first night of restlessness caused by fighting dogs and 5AM puja bells, Nick and G somehow managed to sleep through a 4.2 Richter scale aftershock which we are sure was a great concern to those having to live in already damaged homes.

    Working with a city center school badly affected by the earthquake, we worked with around 40 young and enthusiastic people and 5 local teachers across a program addressing locally pertinent issues, and particularly child trafficking and child rights. The young leaders worked out of temporary classrooms as the main school building, whilst still standing, was structurally unsafe.  This limited the area available to run the On-Field elements of the program, but did not prevent an active, energetic and noisy week of games and Self Directed Learning progressing to a boisterous conclusion.

    The program in Bhaktapur coincided with World Aids Day and gave a perfect platform to address the issues facing the young people through a series of fun but educational and informative games based around the dangers of HIV and good choices that can be made to reduce the risk of infection. Whilst the students ranged from as young as 12 years of age, they approached the issues with openness and maturity, a credit to their community and the work of CRN with the school, particularly our partner workers Prateek and Animika who worked tirelessly behind the scenes and in front of stage to ensure an efficient program.

    Bhaktapur remains a city in the early stages of recovery, a recovery not helped by a dramatic fall in visitor income since the earthquake, however the energy and resilience of our young leaders will make that recovery a more likely outcome in the months and years ahead.

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  • CAC at Beyond Sport Awards in London

    October 19, 2015.  Coaches Across Continents founder Nick Gates is attending the Beyond Sport Summit & Awards 2015 in London, England.  The event is from October 19-21, 2015, and includes a presentation by Nick on curriculum during the Beyond Rugby portion of the summit.

    Coaches Across Continents has been shortlisted for the first annual UNICEF Safeguarding Children in Sport Award.  Winners will be announced on October 20, 2015.  CAC has previously been awarded the Beyond Sport Award for ‘Best New Project’ for our Hat-Trick Initiative in 2009 and for ‘Corporate of the Year‘ in 2014 for our partnership with Chevrolet.  CAC would be the only third-time winner of these prestigious awards.

    Every CAC educator in all of our community training’s participate in an extensive Child Protection and Child Rights course. This includes agreeing to protect every child in their care from emotional, verbal, physical and sexual abuse and learning how to educate children about their rights through a Child Rights sport for social impact curriculum based on the UN Rights of the Child. In 2014 and 2015 this course has educated 6,325 local coaches, teachers and community leaders who work with 514,603 youth in 30 countries.

    Each year the Beyond Sport summit distinguishes itself as the preeminent conference for sport for social development demonstrating the power of sport to do good. The summit brings together some of the biggest names in professional sport, sport for development, sports media and business. In 2015 some of the nominees include The Big Issue for Australia, the Miami Heat, the England and Wales Cricket Board, SV Werder Bremen, BT Sport and New Balance. Our community partners CREATA (Kenya), HODI (Kenya) and Fundlife International (Philippines) are also nominated. We wish all of our partners the best of luck and want to thank Beyond Sport once again for the honor of being shortlisted in 2015.

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