Our New Normal
23rd July 2020. After the COVID-19 global pandemic halted all On-Field education in 2020, Coaches Across Continents and our partners have been eagerly awaiting our return to Purposeful Play across the world – and on July 21st it was fitting that Nico Achimpota of Tanzania would lead the way.
This week was our return to On-Field programming, after a hiatus of 128 days due to the still on-going world pandemic. We have made some changes to our on-field delivery to comply with local and international guidelines, for example we are 1) seeking permission from local authorities in advance and making them aware we will be hosting training, 2) supporting our partners to provide washing stations and face masks to participants and 3) capping the number of participants at each programme to 30 to ensure we can safely distance whenever possible.
Whilst many countries are unfortunately still battling Covid-19, Tanzania has managed to return to their ‘new normal’ as of June 28th and have had no new reported cases since the 8th of May*. Tanzania is also a special place for CAC – we held our first programme there in 2008 and it is home to our first Community Impact Coach, Nico Achimpota.
In this case it was rather special then, that our first Purposeful Play programme in over four months was delivered by Nico in CAC’s home away from home. Nico delivered a three day Education Outside the Classroom training, which consisted of COVID-19 response, Child Rights and Environmental education, all using CAC’s curriculum and methodology.
CAC and our partners are in a unique situation, where the new normal will look different across all of the countries we partner in. It’s important we continue to work with our local leaders and experts, to deliver safe, fun and effective learning to the communities who need it most.
*accurate as of 10am 23/7/20
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
Uganda Is Promising
March 29th 2016. CAC Community Impact Coach Godfrey “Moogy” Mugisha talks about working with CAC at Ndejje University in Uganda.
Our first week in Uganda brought together the Kenyan CAC dream-team of Markus, David, Charlie and Nico Achimpota. After Nico’s first trip to Ndejje as a Community Impact Coach last year he ended up enrolling in the school himself. Because of this, we were able to reunite on his campus and were joined by another CIC, Godfrey “Moogy” Mugisha.
Thinking about this week, Moogy writes, “Today Marked my 7th year working with Coaches Across Continents and 3rd as a Community Impact Coach. I was so pleased with the number of participants and that they showed up each morning on time and with a good attitude towards the whole session. The CAC team woke up early and cracked jokes with each other on the way to the soccer fields, is there really a greater joy?”
Working with over 90 participants is always interesting. Working with over 90 participants organized by a quality University is just a delight. Our coaches were eager and punctual. Probably two of the most appreciated qualities in our line of work. Combine this with one of the best CAC teams and I couldn’t ask for a better start to a new country. Each morning we had a breakfast of champions (rolled up chapatti with an omelet concoction) and a few evenings we had post-dinner board games with our wonderful German family neighbors. Uganda is promising.
The spirit of “Football for social impact” introduced in Dar es Salaam
May 29, 2014. Senior staff member Markus Bensch (Germany) tells of his experiences in Tanzania. Last week we started a new program in Tanzania in the biggest city of the country, Dar es Salaam. Our programs in Tanzania are a bit different because we partner primarily with the Municipalities of the cities or districts and not with local NGOs. Most of the participants are teachers by trade and not necessarily coaches in particular. In the past we have worked in many different towns but this is our first time running a program in the capital.
But it was not only the first program in Dar es Salaam it was also the first time for me to be responsible for planning and running an entire CAC training. It was my last week of introduction with Sophie and a test run before I head to Zimbabwe to lead my own team. Here now the report from the week of truth.
Our program was supposed to start on Monday on the field, but in Africa sometimes things take time so we could only welcome a few participants and give them a short theoretical introduction to CAC and our work. On Tuesday we started on the field with 18 teachers and did a classical “Ronaldo Day” that gives a good introduction into football for social impact. On Wednesday we continued with Marta who is one of our most powerful female role models and gives us the opportunity to speak about female empowerment as well as discuss participation and roles of girls in sport, football and society. The participants agreed and even gave examples about different stereotypes that still exist about the roles of women and men in society. They already knew that most of these roles are culturally defined and not naturally given. One example they mentioned was about hair dressers. In Tanzania only women become hairdressers, but amongst the immigrants from the Democratic Republic of Congo you’ll find also men that are doing this job. This is just one of the examples we discussed and where we emphasized the idea of questioning these traditions and making a step towards creating more choices and opening more opportunities in the minds of the people, especially the young generation.
The group enjoyed very much our fun games like Mingle Mingle, Animal Game and Head-Catch. But they also worked very seriously on finding solutions in our problem solving games like 95% Football and Lines Game, although we could tell that they’re at the beginning of the process to become self-directed learners and they struggled with this new way of thinking and acting. But they made progress throughout the week and we hope to see major changes next year when we come back, because we’re aware of the fact that the learning process and change in behavior happens throughout the year as they implement what they have learned and not completely during our one week program. We can only initiate, but the participants have to continue and we’re optimistic that this group will do so.
We want to say ‘Thank you!’ to the Ilala Municipality District and Claude to make this program happen. A big ‘Thank you!’ goes also to Nico Achimpota our local Community Impact Coach (CIC) who traveled on Sunday from Dodoma to Dar es Salaam to help us to set up the program and organize everything for the training. Last but not least we want to thank Mr. Mgamba and his school that they hosted us and provided a football pitch and a separate classroom that we could use the whole week.
We are looking forward to come back next year and welcome a lot of returning coaches who continue with us the journey to become self-directed learners and establish this new learning culture in their teaching and coaching.
I personally want to say ‘Thank you!’ to Nora and Sophie for the wonderful eight weeks I had with them and the brilliant introduction I got into the philosophy of CAC and in the administrative procedures to make our work on the field successful. I’m now looking forward to run the first programs on my own and learning from my own experiences.
Court Storming in Kigoma!
August 2, 2013. Kigoma, Tanzania holds a special place for Coaches Across Continents. It is the site of our first-ever program in 2008, the start of the Hat Trick Initiative in 2009, and the recipient of a Beyond Sport award which donated and installed a multi-purpose sports court in 2011. Maybe it is the water in Lake Tanganyika but something keeps CAC coming back to this rural community on the western edge of Tanzania. This is our sixth consecutive year here, making it a Double Hat Trick Initiative.
Community Impact Coach Nico Achimpota (the former Sports Officer in Kigoma/Ujiji) and Coach Brian spent five days training teachers and children on the sport court on the grounds of Katubuka Primary School. Each morning 36 teachers arrived early to learn this year’s games. The CAC curriculum is so vast that we taught almost all new games to this year’s group. Some of the teachers were in their first training session while others were reunited with Brian who was here last in 2010. Even a mutatu conductor leaned out his window when he saw Nico and Brian and shouted “Coaches!, Karibu! (welcome).” The enthusiasm for Coaches Across Continents is great once again with private meetings with the Honorable Mayor, Sports Officer, and numerous other dignitaries to see how we can continue progressing forward in this District.
However the highlight of the week were the afternoon training sessions where 100+ boys and girls chanted “Mingle, Mingle, Mingle!” as we strolled up. If you don’t know, Mingle Mingle is one of our catchier problem solving games that we teach at each location. With such a large group of children, Brian and Nico spent some afternoons teaching Marta (dribbling) and Ronaldo (moves) with the benefit of 20 One World Futbols. It was one of the first times that the children had quality individual time on the ball to practice their skills and work on finding their voice and confidence. Hopefully this lack of equipment will change in the near future as One World Futbol has committed to donating over 15,000 balls to the CAC Districts in Tanzania which will benefit over 1300 schools. Before we left, Coaches Across left the group of One World Futbols to be used by any group who is using the sport court. This combination of equipment and CAC curriculum training is the best way at ensuring a potential social impact.
On the last afternoon we held a 6v6 tournament. The passion at the World Cup could not match what we saw after each goal. Little children, big children, and even Nico stormed the court every time there was a goal scored. This might have delayed the ensuing kickoff but it made for a memorable afternoon and some great pictures. At the end of a tough three weeks for Nico and Brian (who have trained 200 teachers and coaches in four locations) it was the perfect way to put huge smiles on our faces to see such unbridled joy. Maybe that is the reason CAC keeps coming back here.