• A Vision for Local Sustainability

    August 14th 2015. Léogâne to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Nairobi to Marsabit, Kenya. Tacloban to Baybay, Philippines. Nyanza to Kigali, Rwanda. Tanzania to Uganda. Uganda to Kenya. Cambodia to Philippines.

    These are some of the movements of our Community Impact Coaches (CICs) so far in 2015. We have had 16 CICs from 9 countries, directly impacting 28 CAC programs, and consequently nearly 100,000 children.

    The locations and numbers are compelling, but the stories behind those facts and figures are far more inspiring.

    So who are these CICs? How have they enhanced our work? And what have they brought back home to their communities?

    The CIC program pulls in the best of the best from our implementing partners. These are the coaches who have demonstrated their commitment to using sport for social impact at home with their local organizations, On-Field during past CAC trainings, and in year-round communication with CAC staff. These coaches, once selected as CICs, are part of On-Field teams for 1-3 weeks in various locations in their country or internationally. They assist us with the training of other leaders while learning more from our SDL Coaches, and soaking in everything they believe will empower them back home.

    We kicked off the year with a CIC exchange of sorts. Our 3rd-year partners, GOALS Haiti in Léogâne sent two coaches to work with our team in Port-au-Prince with 2nd-year partners The Sanneh Foundation’s Haitian Initiative (HI). The following week two coaches left the city to join our staff for the third year of the On-Field component to our partnership with GOALS. These two weeks are a great representation of what the CIC program is all about. The GOALS coaches were essential in helping us train 173 leaders in Cité Soleil. The HI coaches visited Léogâne and were able to see how far along a third-year partner is, while learning from them and being challenged to advance beyond the work we had done in their community.

    2015 also saw the return of our first-ever CIC, Nico Pota, who traveled from his home in Tanzania to help us run three programs in UgandaWhile in Uganda, Nico met the second-longest serving CIC, Salim Blanden. Soon after the Uganda programs, Salim traveled to meet our team in Kenya where he helped us train two sets of leaders. After his final week with us, one of the participants had some encouraging words to say about the CIC program: “It is very good for us participants to learn about other cultures and it can help to improve the life of the people in the community. It also encourages members of our community to try to achieve that as well, because when you have been in another community you come home with new ideas. To see Salim also encourages me to do my work and help to improve my own community in Rapogi.” – Michael Ouma, Migori County, Kenya.

    In early May we had some fiercely empowered Filipino women join us for our first time working in Baybay, Philippines after our second year with partners Football for Life in Tacloban. Hazel and Patty were running the show with a group of physical education teachers, and we hope to get one or both of them assisting us internationally in the near future.

    One of our Zimbabwe partners has finished the Hat-Trick Initiative, and after the third year several of the coaches applied to the CIC program. Of these candidates, Frank Chivawura was selected and joined CAC On-Field near his home in Harare with a first-year partner, helping us introduce our methodology to the new participants.

    One of the most incredible stories from our CICs takes us back to Kenya. David Mulo and Charles Otieno have been CICs with us for two years, helping us train leaders in various parts of their country. These inspired leaders work with long-time partners Vijana Amani Pamoja in Nairobi, and since joining us as CICs, they’ve wanted to do more. They started their own NGO called Green Kenya where they use CAC games to teach youth about all sorts of social issues, i.e.: “teaching participants how to conserve the environment using CAC environment games.” Another such issue is the empowerment of women. We have just been informed by David that they recently launched their new Girl Up initiative where, among other things, they are having men go out and buy sanitary towels to better understand and support women. David was part of our training in Marsabit, Kenya with Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI) – a program that needs little introduction when it comes to empowering women and girls.

    An excerpt from David’s blog sums it up beautifully. After witnessing the gap between men and women in Marsabit and learning of certain human rights violations, David writes:

    I decided that I want to do something for the girls when I get back to Nairobi… I will assemble the girls in my community and let them talk about the issues that they are facing and how they think we can tackle them. I want to let them have a voice to be heard. This idea would not have grown in my head if I did not get the chance to be a Community Impact coach (CIC).

    And now Girl Up is born.

    This is just one example – albeit amazing – of the work that our CICs are doing with us, and more importantly, without us. As David and many others have taken the time to thank CAC for the opportunities we present to them – I’d like to take this moment to thank our Community Impact Coaches across the world: Thank you for taking advantage of this opportunity and owning it; thank you for being exactly who you are and allowing it to inspire so many people; and thank you for not being afraid of the unknown.

    With a packed program schedule for the remainder of 2015, we cannot wait to unleash more CICs onto our partners. And moreover, we cannot wait to unlock more of these stories that are waiting to be lived by people who continue to dream despite overwhelming obstacles.

    To find out how you can support the Community Impact Coach program please go to this page or contact us.

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  • Community Impact Coaches Collide in Mbarara

    April 6th 2015. Our bus stops frequently on our 4-hour journey west to Mbarara, and every time it does, local vendors holding baskets of sodas and snacks above their head, flock towards us and sprint to keep up before jumping aboard the slowing vehicle, in hopes of finding some hungry travelers. On a bus full of Ugandans and clucking chickens, I’m an obvious target for the vendors. I’ll take a water please. I’ll pass on the fried fish…

    We are off to our second training site in Uganda with a program called Mbarara Sports Academy run by Salim Blanden. Salim is paving the way for future coaches and future leaders through his academy and it wont be long before more leaders in Mbarara emerge in the football for social impact world. Salim founded Mbarara Sports Academy in 2010 and ever since he was introduced to CAC two years ago at our training in Kampala with an NGO called, Soccer Without Borders, he has been using our curriculum. He has become a special part of our Coaches Across Continents family as one of our Community Impact Coaches. Last year he travelled to South Africa with Coaches Across Continents for 2 weeks, and later this year he will travel with CAC to another country. But the work Salim does with CAC in other countries doesn’t tell enough of his story.

    Upon arrival we are welcomed into Salim’s home with open arms by “Momma Salim” who takes extra good care of us in her humble abode all week; cooking us hearty meals to start and end our days. Salim’s office is in his garage at the end of his home. The cement walls are plastered with pictures of the 200 youth he coaches in his community among the line of CAC certificates that he proudly displays. You can tell by the hanging “Football for Social Impact” Posters that fill the white spaces on the walls, where Salim’s vision lies. Children lounge around in his office daily; sometimes just hanging around while Salim does his work, other times working away on a pair of sandals or string bracelets. Most of the revenue for Mbarara Sports Academy comes out of Salim’s pocket, the other percentage comes from donations to the academy and the shoes and bracelets the kids make and sell to locals. Salim works as a University coach on the side to make some extra money to run his youth development academy. He coaches 200 boys and girls through his academy, boasting some of the top talent in the area, but that is not what Salim is most proud of. Through football young boys and girls have received scholarships to primary and secondary schools, which Salim values above everything else. All 200 of Salim’s players attend school, and he fully funds roughly 67 kids who aren’t able to pay school fees on their own. His passion for helping the children of Mbarara is unusual to see in a 29-year-old male footballer in Uganda. Salim was one of the greatest players Mbarara has ever seen in his playing days as a goalkeeper. Unlike many of the top players in Uganda however, Salim recognizes that using football as a tool to send social messages to his players goes much further than coaching just football alone. There is life after football and Salim makes sure his players are prepared for that.

    Training in Mbarara this year attracted many of the same participants as last year. In seeing the impact that Salim has made on the community, it is apparent that many others have been positively affected and inspired by his presence. This year we chose games to address Female Empowerment, HIV education and Child Rights, which Salim felt were especially important to address. With Nico being with us this week, the participants were able to speak and learn from two of our most top level Community Impact Coaches. Nico comes from Kigoma, Tanzania; the first-ever training site in which Coaches Across Continents worked, in 2008. Nico is now the District of Sport Officer in Chamwino, Tanzania and has been using our games over the past 6 years to educate youth in his community. Nico’s energy is felt through every community he enters. It was a special week in Mbarara working with two leaders who have shown their passion and leadership through the work they have done for their communities, for their countries, and for the world through Coaches Across Continents. Our last day of training we were able to watch the players coach their peers the different games they learned last year, and throughout the week this year. It is always impressive to see the players transform from player to coach within a day. When they were put to the task, they certainly put on a show!

    Our last day in Mbarara, Momma Salim invited us to her farmhouse, which was about a 20-minute drive from the city. She cooked us lunch and toured us around the farmland which was owned by her mother and father before they passed away. The farm is now home to her workers, and her livestock. Among the 400-acre plantation, she grows corn, potatoes, plantains, cassava, peanuts, beans, fruit and sunflowers. She sells some of the crops to town along with milk from her cows and honey from her beehives. On over 500 acres of land, Momma Salim’s home sit halfway up a mountain, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of rumbling “boda-boda”(motorbike) engines and screeching tires; an escape from our normal daily encounters in Mbarara. It was sitting in the calmness of nature; listening to the sounds of the birds and the thunder rolling over the mountains that made our week spent on the field in Mbarara feel so far away.

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  • The First of His Kind

    April 1st 2015. Just as Coaches Across Continents found its birthplace in Tanzania all those beautiful years ago, so did our Community Impact Coach (CIC) program on the shoulders of Nico Pota. Nico was our first-ever CIC, assisting us with our Tanzania programs for the past 4 years. His energy and enthusiasm for football for social impact paired with his commitment to achieving real, sustainable change in his community have made him an invaluable asset to CAC. Nico has traveled with us beyond the borders of his country to bring his knowledge and experience to other programs, to learn from coaches with similar goals in different cultural contexts and sporting environments, and to return home only to put into effect all that he learned on the road.

    Nico’s constant hard work over the years has produced another international opportunity for him to join our team as a CIC. He is currently on the frontlines with Self-Directed Learning (SDL) Coaches, Kelly Conheeney and Turner Humphries, running three weeks of programs in Uganda.

    SDL Coach Turner says of our Tanzanian CIC, “Nico has brought a contagious energy to every community we enter. Within minutes he is making people laugh and leaving with new friends. While an established member of the sports community in Dodoma, Tanzania, he strives to enrich the lives of Africans everywhere with his commitment to sport for development. In Uganda Nico has coached games focused on HIV and sexual health, conflict resolution, gender equity as well as a host of fun problem solving games that bring out the best of his personality.”

    And in the words of our old friend and colleague himself, Nico gives us an updated account of his role as a Community Impact Coach with CAC:

    I appreciate the Community Impact Coach program very much.  Being able to coach and train in another country has been a great opportunity for me. I enjoy being an example for other coaches as some of them are also interested in becoming a CIC. Traveling throughout Uganda has allowed me to experience a different culture, language and food, while introducing me to so many great people in the process. It has also been fun to introduce others to aspects of Tanzanian culture as well. I am so pleased to see people with university degrees wanting to be involved in sport for social impact here in Uganda. People really have a strong passion for what sport can do to change lives; taking the time to study sport in university will only serve to further help them and the youth of Uganda.

    As a Community Impact Coach I am constantly learning new games from both CAC and other participants I encounter. I have really been enjoying the new children’s rights curriculum. I’m very thankful for all of the program organizers who have made each program run smoothly and have made my stay here in Uganda so great. I know firsthand what it is like to prepare for CAC to come to your community and appreciate the work they have done. I encourage all of the coaches I’ve come in contact with to implement the games they have learned and to experiment adapting games to fit the specific needs of your community. I see great things coming out of Uganda and expect to see many Community Impact Coaches coming from this country.

    We thank Nico for his consistent support for our programs, his devotion to positive social impact through sport, and his seemingly bottomless spirit. We look forward to many more years with him as part of our CIC program, as well as other CICs inspired by Nico’s success, and that of the many others like him from our partners across the globe.

    For more information about our CIC program email . To find out about sponsoring the Community Impact Coach initiative around the world go to this sponsorships page or contact CAC.

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  • Leaving a Trail with CAC

    December 20, 2014. Coach Kelly Conheeney writes about her final week On-Field in 2014 with teachers from Dodoma, Tanzania. 

    4 months and a couple of weeks ago, I was flying over the Pacific Ocean on a 36-hour journey to Southeast Asia. I picked up my journal and began to write. “and so I’m off”, dated July 31, 2014. It took me several minutes of staring blankly at the title before I could get a single word down on the page. I couldn’t think of where to begin, so I started flipping through the pages of my travel journal and reading the quotes that were printed on the top of each page. I came across one that really stuck with me. “Do not follow where the path may lead, Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” I left the page blank. This surely is not the usual path one takes after graduating college. But this is the path I have chosen for myself, and it is changing my life. Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Africa and Tanzania; slowly making my way around the world. I have reached the beginning of an end; the last program of my volunteering experience for the year, and in January I will begin working with CAC as a full time staff member. My last destination on this long journey, across 3 different continents and 5 different countries, to cities I have never before heard, and would certainly not have encountered in my lifetime if not for this endeavor. Last stop: Dodoma, Tanzania.

    Chaos like I have never seen it before. 80 children flooded the schoolyard celebrating the event of new coaches that were about to play football with them. Screams of joy and screams just to scream because everyone else was doing it. As soon as we stepped near the field, the children flocked towards Markus, Nico, Frederick and I. They latched onto us and started asking us questions in perfect English. The school was an international school where English was a predominant language. It was nice to understand the children and to be understood, rather than the usual conversations I have with kids in the couple of words I know in Swahili. Before the session began we got the children together and introduced ourselves. I also felt it was necessary to show off my new favorite dance move I learned in Tanzania they call the “Kaduku”. I called it the “koo-koo dance” inspired by Nora, a CAC staff member who introduced me to the dance move back in Cambodia a couple of months ago. They quickly caught on. After a short “koo-koo dance off” we split the group up into two, and took the field for a solid hour; teaching them Ronaldo Skills and ending with a game of “Mingle Mingle”. It was a difficult session to coach because the children weren’t very disciplined, but the one thing that never changed throughout the session was the smiles on their faces. It was the first school we coached at in Tanzania where I felt like the kids were free to be kids. It was a refreshing session to be a part of; even when the kids were difficult to tolerate I had to look around and appreciate the safe space the teachers created for the children to learn and express their energy and enthusiasm to play.

    Every afternoon we went back to the international school and were welcomed by beaming smiles and koo-koo dances performed by all. Prior to the afternoon session with the kids, we held a clinic for our coaches every morning from 8 to 11. The value of working with the children in the afternoon is that the coaches we train have the opportunity to coach the games they learned in the morning to the children they work with in the afternoon. It is also a chance for us to give the coaches feedback on the areas where they excelled and areas that need improvement. Since we faced some difficulties with numbers in the session we held the day before, we found that splitting up the children from their classmates was the most efficient way to train. Each coach set up an area in the schoolyard to coach a CAC game they learned earlier that day. The kids rotated every 20 minutes to a new group, which gave every teacher a chance to coach the game three times. It was fulfilling to watch the coaches adapt their games, create their own games and integrate their own creativity into each session as the week progressed. By the last afternoon session of the week the coaches were punctual, prepared at their stations and extremely encouraging towards the children. This week we worked with a wonderful group of teachers. The day before the end of our program, one of the women came up to me and asked if CAC could stay and train in Dodoma for the whole month. She said that on Tuesday morning she woke up with a sore body after our long day of training on Monday, and questioned how she would make it through the week, but by Thursday she had felt better than ever. She raved to me about how she has proved to herself through our training that she is capable of being a strong healthy woman. A realization she came to through the week of training with Coaches Across Continents.

    I am flying over the Atlantic, back to my home in New Jersey right now, a very different person than I was when I embarked on this journey. I flip back to the page in my journal that I left blank on July 31, 2014 and I begin to write under the quote written by Ralph Waldo Emerson. 4 months and a couple of weeks ago I did not know what kind of trail I would leave, or what paths I would go down that would alter my worldview. But today I can’t stop writing. Whether my trail in Dodoma was left through the koo-koo dance, or the games we played that inspired women to believe in their ability to lead a healthy, active lifestyle, I think this is my mission in the world. Something I aspire to do everyday on this job, leave a trail. 2015 brings new countries, new cultures, new challenges, new experiences, and new communities to impact through the beautiful game!

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  • The Great Chamwino

    December 12, 2014. Volunteer Coach from Germany, Frederick Schwarzmaier, joins fellow countryman Markus Bensch as well as Kelly Conheeney in Tanzania. He writes about his first experience On-Field with CAC in Chamwino. 

    Before any coaching session could start on Monday morning, we visited the District Executive Director of Chamwino, a highly respected woman. After introducing ourselves, Markus took a few minutes to talk about Coaches Across Continents as an organization and our approach in this community. As expected, she gave her consent for the program and we headed towards the local soccer pitch on motorbike-taxis with great anticipation and a box of new footballs. At arrival, reality quickly tempered us as only eight coaches showed up. Nico, the Community Impact Coach of Chamwino and an amazing go-to person, confirmed that eight would be our total number for the day. Given the low number of participants, we decided to play a fun game of soccer and start with the program on Tuesday. Afterwards, we went to meet the Chairman of Chamwino in order to introduce ourselves and explain what we are going to do in the next few days in his district. For us, this meeting was very worthwhile because the Chairman introduced us to the history of Chamwino as well as Tanzania, including a proudly presented story about the nation’s first president, Julius Nyerere, who visited Chamwino on several occasions. In order to make it a successful day over all, we coached over 40 girls from a local secondary school several CAC games including Ronaldo Skills for Life, Mingle Mingle and Pairs Soccer. The girls were visibly proud that their male fellow pupils were all along gazing at them while practicing their new soccer skills.

    Gratefully, on Tuesday twelve coaches showed up, hence, we decided to begin the program. Although, the number of participants was low, we had a very intense but fun week. As there were some returning coaches from previous years, they occasionally stepped in to teach their new peers certain games or moves on their own. This also showed us the impact of our program in this community on former participants. Besides, we set the focus on Child Rights and Gender Equality as this was requested by the community and regarded as one of their biggest current challenges. This issue especially arose when we were having a discussion about the rights of a child, as this is done within every CAC program and every community. Nearly half of the participants justified hitting their pupils or other children if they weren’t paying attention in class. An additional issue was the local coaches’ cheating manner. It took several attempts to announce fairly played winners in many of the conflict games, as it seemed that they cheat out of instinct. I felt as though this challenge was successfully tackled by us in a fun learning environment. Especially for me as a newbie at CAC, these circumstances made me contemplate the local culture. I tried to slip into the coaches’ shoes in the hope that I would find the root cause to their behavior. My explanation – you could also name it presumption as I do not have a scientific proof of it – for it is that they treat their children the same way as they were treated when they were young. Having this in mind while during our program in Chamwino, I was putting myself under too much pressure in order to transform the whole community into a better place and flood it with my ideas for improvement. I quickly realized that this approach is not working out and I should rather ask questions instead of giving possible answers as the CAC curriculum suggests. This method simply proofed to me the power and sustainability of the CAC approach. Combined with the uniting power of football, this program is even more amazing than I could have ever imagined before experiencing it myself. Besides, it is not only the local coaches but also me who are learning a lot.

    On Thursday, the local coaches taught the children the CAC games they learned this week. This was a great success as one could witness the drive and joy the coaches spread during their short and individual sessions with the kids. Their attitude created a setting where children could learn, laugh, play and fail without being afraid of consequences, no matter if girl or boy. Solely, one could criticize their urge to solve little problems for the children instead of letting them gain some problem solving experience themselves, e.g. fixing the human circle when playing Circle of Friends. Overall, it was fantastic seeing them teaching the kids.

    On Friday, after the last session of the program, we handed over the certificates to each participant that turned out to be more like a closing ceremony than a simple duty. Before we handed out the certificates, a representative of the local Education Office was the guest of honor and delivered a speech about the importance of implementing the CAC games in the learning curriculum of each school. After the ceremony, the participants surprised each of us with a shirt of Tanzania’s national soccer team – a great ending of a tiring but joyful week. Shortly afterwards, under pouring rain, we headed to Dodoma City to prepare for the upcoming program.

    To put it in a nutshell, although struggling at the beginning of the week to get a sufficient number of local coaches for this year’s program in Chamwino, the week turned out to be a great success for all of us. We are confident we have made a sustainable impact on Chamwino’s community.

     

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  • A Week to Remember

    December 5, 2014. Volunteer Coach, Keren Lavi, from Israel partner, Mifalot, joins CAC On-Field in Iringa, Tanzania and write about her first experience with CAC outside of her country. 

    I always knew my first time to Africa would have to be an unforgettable one, after traveling around 3 continents “IT’S TIME FOR AFRICA”.  I arrived to a motel in Dar es Salaam where I waited for Nico (CAC’s local partner and first ever Community Impact Coach) to pick me up for an amazing field week at the new ‘Football for Hope Center’ in Iringa. The morning we left to the bus I happen to fall down the stairs with my suitcase and twist my ankle! How am I going to get through this week now?! I stood up and walked with Nico to the bus, I was ok. The bus station was full with people and buses, I have no idea how he found the right bus but I guess every country has its own order they follow. We get to the bus and Nico goes down to find a cold water bottle for my ankle, after a few seconds I realize the bus starts to leave with no sign for Nico! “Nico, where is Nico” I shout in the bus, the bus has already left the station, I get to the driver “please stop! Nico is missing!” as if he knows who is Nico and that this is my first time in Africa and I have no idea where and how to get to the place I am supposed to get to. The bus driver stopped on the side road, meanwhile I start to panic and cry having no idea what to do. After 5 minutes of total panic Nico arrives hitchhiking on a motorcycle sweating with a cold water bottle in his hand!

    I started my visit at the peak which only continued to climb higher and higher. I met Kelly and Marcus, CAC’s team, when we arrived to Iringa – both seem to be born to the field of football for social impact! I was honored to see them coach and to coach with them! They immediately made me feel part of the team and I am thankful for that! As I already mentioned Nico took great care of me, I must say he is the best local partner an organization could ask for, not only does he organize the coaching seminars and talks to all local partners he is an inspiring coach and person that really connects with CAC’s vision! Working with such awesome people this week was a real treat! The local coaches we met were all part of Iringa Development of Youth, Disabled and Children Care (IDYDC) which hosts the FIFA Football for Hope Center. We had a week full of games, laughs, serious talks, coach-backs, and dancing mingle mingle at any chance of the day! One of the most memorable parts for me was having kids around the field almost 24/7! They will not leave the place till it was dark! It is amazing to see how a football field becomes the center of a community and the safest place for kids to play. I am loaded with energy to get back to my organization in Israel –

    My name is Keren Lavi and I work for Mifalot Education and Society Enterprises which is an NGO located in Israel. We also work globally in order to create social change via the football field. After training with CAC twice in Israel it was my time to join them in another country in order to learn and feel the work CAC does across the continents… My role at Mifalot is to develop the international programs. We provide educational curriculums and share our best practices, this is why partnering with CAC in order to exchange knowledge about football for social change is not only a privilege but an opportunity to grow and spread the love we share to the game and to the impact it can have on people all around the world. Mifalot share with CAC this vision and I can only hope for both organizations to keep growing and touch many coaches around the world.

     

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