• CAC Back in Njombe, Tanzania

    P1040952October 18, 2013.  CAC coaches Sophie Legros, Danielle Foxhoven and Becca Meierbachtol left Zimbabwe after three weeks of programming and headed North to Tanzania. Tanzania was host to the first ever Coaches Across Continents program in 2008. They were met at the airport by one of CAC’s best community impact coaches, Nico Achimpota and some of his team members. They headed out the next morning on an 11 hour bus ride from Dar Es Salaam to a smaller city in the mountains called Njombe.

    Tuesday morning they got right to work as they met all of the education department members  in the Njombe community before starting the daily 4 hour morning session. Every afternoon was spent coaching a group of girls from a primary school. What a great experience for the team! The coaches covered new skills and averaged 7 new games and social messages every morning!

    Our CAC staff and the community coaches ended the Njombe program with a 45 minute game between coaches and what a competitive and fun match it turned out to be! Nico, despite having suffered a potentially week ending pulled hip flexor, had his glory moment as a foul was called on the edge of the penalty area which he converted on a beautiful free kick!

    After the game was over the head of Njombe’s education department gave a well worded speech inspiring everyone to work hard to implement the games and social messages that were covered throughout the week. Needless to say we are excited to see what the teachers and coaches in Njombe can do over the next year!

    Lastly, the day was finished with CAC and One World Futbol leaving 4 balls with the community to get them started on the games until a shipment can arrive for all of the primary and secondary schools in Njombe. It was the perfect ending to a great week for our CAC coaches and the newest members to the educated CAC coaches!

  • Coaches Across Continents interviews Nico: A Tanzanian’s View of Ghana

    IMG_0507April 24, 2013. A Question & Answer with Nicholaus Achimpota, our first-ever Community Impact Coach.  The concept of our Community Impact Coach program is simple.  Some of the best and brightest coaches in our partner-program network have applied to work alongside CAC coaches as we travel to communities outside of their own.   We believe that these local coaches have a tremendous amount of knowledge to transmit to fellow sport for social impact communities as well as learn from other communities within the CAC network.  They will bring back what they have learned to their home communities.  Coach Nico traveled from his home community of Chamwino, Tanzania to work our three April programs in Ghana.  Here are his answers to some questions we posed to him at the end of his three week assignment.

    Q: What does it mean to you to be a Community Impact Coach:

    A: To come to Ghana to coach another coach outside of my country… This is a special thing to me because it has built my confidence.

    Q: What did people say in Tanzania when you told them you were coming to work with Coaches Across Continents?

    A: Before I came here, I met with the press about our trip to Ghana with the Tanzanian Broadcast Corporation (TBC).  We advertised that Coaches Across Continents had selected me for an Impact Coach.  It is the first time for a Tanzanian coach to go abroad and train other coaches in a top-ranking [soccer] country [Ghana].  So people in Tanzania ask themselves, “Why is Nico is going to Ghana?”  I answer, “I’m going to coach the coaches, using soccer for social impact.  We are teaching soccer but we are also teaching social development, so there is a message.”

    Q: Describe your work as a Community Impact Coach with CAC. IMG_0498

    A: My job is to learn the Coaches Across program and how it is used in different Ghana communities.  It helped me because now I can use that curriculum to use in my coaching career when I am back in Tanzania.  Now it is easy to develop that curriculum in my country in the four districts where I am: Geita, Kigoma/Ujiji, Chamwino, and Njombe town.

    Q: How has it helped you as a coach?

    A: If you are a coach, every day you are a student, so you need to learn new knowledge from other coaches.  So I learned so many things from my colleague coaches who are working together to run the program for Coaches Across.  So for me, it is very good because there are so many things new to me when we are running the program: to be on time, to organize the program, how to meet with a big number of teachers, and how to relate between soccer and social development.

    Q: How has being in Ghana helped you develop as a person?

    A: As a person, I am from Tanzanian which speaks Swahili.  The Ghana languages [Twi and Fanti] and English are spoken here.  It is my first time to go abroad and train other people in another language other than Swahili.  So each day I must learn and get better in another language and teach outside of Swahili.

    Q: What are your views of Ghana?

    A: I like to be in Ghana.  I enjoy the peaceful country.  The community is very good.  But also the person who organizes the program, I appreciate that they are good people and they are working hard.

    Q: What was the favorite place you visited in Ghana

    A: Accra.  I like that you can walk at any time in safety.

    IMG_1087Q: What have you learned that you can bring back to Tanzania?

    A:  In Tanzania I want to bring back and start a U12, U15, and U17 leagues and U17 and U20 Women’s leagues which I have seen in Ghana.  In Ghana there is a big number for participants.  It is my work to encourage my four communities to add number of teachers and coaches who participate in our training programs.  For the four District Sports Officers, to do monitoring and evaluation, at least to meet with the teachers one day per month to see what is going on in their area.  This would be good.  It would be my job to follow up with these teachers to make sure they are implementing.  We learn the knowledge, but we need to bring back to the kids and our future children.

    I also want to have a tournament in Tanzania for multiple communities at one locale to share ideas and coaching styles.  It is important because it will encourage the coaches to develop our curriculum.  Right now it is one coach traveling.  So now the coaches can travel and share ideas and that is an incentive since maybe they can travel and we can meet together.

    Q: What messages have you told the coaches here in Ghana

    A: I told them all that to be Community Impact Coaches you must implement and teach social lessons you are learning.

    Q: What information from Tanzania have you been able to share with the coaches in Ghana?

    A: I teach them Swahili language in Ghana, like “Simama” (stop) “Karibu” (welcome) and “Njoo hapa” (come

    Community Impact Coach Nico from Tanzania loving his time in Ghana!

    Community Impact Coach Nico from Tanzania loving his time in Ghana!

    here).  I also shared some concentration games.  To prepare the players to concentrate, whether it is in match or training, anywhere is important.

    Q: What connections have you made in Ghana?

    A: There are different people here.  Not only for the sports activities, but I will use this opportunity to advertise our country for our attraction in the parks, minerals, everything which is available.  One of the businessmen I met is very interested to come to Tanzania for minerals.  I also meet with two [other] businessmen who own a team so maybe we make a good relationship between our region and their team.  So we are start talking, and you never know for the future.

    Q: What was your favorite thing to do socially outside of football.

    A: To share ideas with different people from a different country.

    Q: Why is it important for CAC to have Impact Coaches?

    A:  It is important to be an impact coach because it will attract other coaches to develop the CAC programs in their country and maybe they will be selected from their country to be an Impact Coach like Nico from Tanzania.

    Q: Favorite moment in Ghana:

    A:  To eat banku and Tilapia.  Also meeting GFA people and training members of the U17 national team, meeting former Black Star players, current women’s players and the current women’s national team Coach Dadzie.

    Q: Any other favorite moments or activities you did?

    A: I got two jerseys as gifts from the Ghana coaches, one from Hearts of Oak and another for Asante Kotoko.  They were rewards and coaches appreciated my hard work as a Tanzanian coach.  I know Asante Kotoko before I come here because many years ago the Young Africans (team from Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania) – they played in African Cup against Asante Kotoko.  Both matches were draws.  That was historical in Tanzania, so they did a coin toss and Kotoko won and advanced.  That’s why I knew Asante Kotoko.

    Coach Nico has landed safely back in Tanzania and is already following up on the relationships he started, and planning to implement what he learned and transmitting this knowledge to his fellow sports officers in Tanzania.  We will visit with Nico again in November when our CAC programs are run on-site in his home country.

  • West Africa 1971 and 2013

    April 5, 2013.  By Earl Strassberger.  I arrived in Ghana at night after 26 hours of travel.  I got a ride to the hostel, so it was not until the next morning when fond memories started to come back to me.  From January 1971 to April 1974 I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia.  This is my first time back to Africa since those days.

    IMG_0506

    Coach Earl in action at Play Soccer Ghana

    Before I talk about Cape Coast and Play Soccer Ghana I have to mention what is different and what has not changed.  In the 1970s there was no Internet, no cell phones, next to no TV sets, and bottled water was not everywhere.  We carried iodine tablets and a canteen.  What has not changed is that the food is outstanding.  Banku is new to me, umm-umm! The pineapple is amazing.  The other CAC coaches are laughing with me because I take pictures of all the good food.  My friends at home wish they could taste it.  In addition the people are still so friendly.  You walk by a taxi stand and every driver and their helpers call out to you, “Where are you going?” “Ride with me.”  As you walk along the street little kids come up to you to say hello, and may ask for a gift.  Often they call you obruni (white man).  In Liberia it was quipo, in Ethiopia it was forengy (from foreigner).

    Community Impact Coach Nico from Tanzania loving his time in Ghana!

    Community Impact Coach Nico from Tanzania loving his time in Ghana!

    So what about CAC?  First of all I am meeting the nicest and most interesting people.  Nico, a Tanzanian, was the head of CACs first-ever partner program in 2008.  Now he is CAC’s first-ever Community Impact Coach working alongside the CAC coaches. What a dynamic guy.  Then there is Emily, who recently graduated college in Hawaii, moved to Ghana and became part of CAC.  Nicole, another young lady who lives in Casablanca, Morocco, works for Women Win and is here because of the partnership between CAC and Women Win.  They remind me of my daughter, watching out for me – “Need some help”; “Let me carry that suitcase”; etc.  Both are amazing soccer players and instructors.  It is fun being the oldest person, by far!  I impressed Emily in that I use email, Facebook, and Instagram on my smart phone.  We watched Barcelona play Paris-St. Germain at dinner.  At the end of dinner the waitress came with the bill, looked around for less than one second and brought it to me.  Brian said, “Thanks Dad”.

    Most important is our partner program here in Cape Coast, Play Soccer Ghana.  It consists of a terrific group of people and coaches – enthusiastic, cooperative, eager to learn, and always trying their best.  And they are great players.  We used a FIFA-built, small, turf field called a Football For Hope Center, a legacy from the 2010 World Cup.  Sometimes we had 25 coaches all scrimmaging with one ball.  I was amazed at how players found open space and completed passes regularly.

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    Coach Earl takes a moment to talk to the coaches of Play Soccer Ghana

    Many of these games we teach are played all over the world.  It is the messages on Social Impact that we are conveying that makes CAC different.  Many, if not all, of these messages – responsibility, peer pressure, communication, and more – would be just as appropriate in the United States.  The coaches we have been working with are always positive, and why not.  The Chairman of the Ghana Football Association, Central Region, Mr. M. N. Doe gave the opening and closing keynote speeches.  Coach James Kuuku Dadzie of the Black Queens (the Ghana Women’s National team) attended the ceremonies and observed some of our training sessions.  Later one day we watched him run a “street” team through their paces.  This team consisted of teenage boys and girls.  Some of the girls are on the National team.

    The week was great.  We finish up tomorrow morning and then do some sight-seeing, before starting our next program next week in Accra.  I can’t wait.

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    The FIFA Football For Hope Center in Cape Coast, Ghana

  • Visiting Nico’s Stomping Grounds – Chamwino, Tanzania

    November 29th, 2012: Our CAC team could sense the excitement flowing from Nico as we approached Chamwino after a long bus ride from Geita. Arriving in Dodoma, immediately we were greeted by the hustle in the streets and the constant activity in the capital city of Tanzania. Chamwino is a small rural town located about 30 km outside Dodoma and it was the setting for our third Coaches Across Continents program this year. Chamwino is also the town where Nico spends time working with the local teachers teaching sport for development as well as with his girls team who are improving very quickly.  Last year a team of CAC coaches began the hat trick initiative in Chamwino while working with the Capital Teachers college to educate teachers and coaches on using football for change as well as with a young female team who were eager to acquire new football and life skills.

    In Chamwino. Nico once again showed how instrumental he is in the partnership with CAC as he ensured that before starting any program on the field that the CAC team would meet and greet a plethora of government officials, sports personnel and education officers. It felt redundant to repeat over again our individual backgrounds highlighting the role of football in each of our lives, however, with each reaction from the listener it became apparent that our stories were shaping the perspective for many in regards to females in sport as well as the importance of education and sport.

    For five days the CAC team delivered a program to local teachers, all of which had shown great interest in using sport to engage the youth. The coaches were very receptive of the program, often asking questions about the games, the skills taught and the relevance to their communities. CAC taught many of the typical first year games covering various themes and mixed in a handful of GOAL games that speak to issues such as financial literacy, communication skills, self-esteem and setting goals.

    The last day CAC challenged the teachers to design their own games addressing issues relevant to their communities. The games were dynamic and each reflected pieces of GOAL games, however, with an added from the local teachers. For example, one group designed a game on environmental awareness and used the Sawa’s Rights game as the skeleton but adapted it to better suit the needs of the topic and the audience. Another group chose to focus on ways to earn money while the last two taught focused on drug abuse and malaria prevention. Some of the coaches also had the opportunity to begin teaching the games in the afternoon when CAC trained a team of young female footballers who were eager to develop new skills and to train with a group of foreign female coaches.

    Nico has shown again the importance of a program being embedded in the community. The CAC program was not just presented to the teachers and youth in the on the field program but also to the majority of education and sports officials who are working in both Dodoma and Chamwino. Making these connections within the community is fundamental to the sustainability of the program and judging by the reactions of many of the officials, there is an overall strong sense of appreciation for the work that CAC is doing and understanding that the knowledge given should be spread to more teachers, coaches and youth.

  • Nico leads in Geita, Tanzania

    November 27, 2012: It was a week of battling the elements for Marisa, Emily, and Melanie in Geita, Tanzania! The trio spent the week transitioning inside and outside of classrooms in unison with the rain, and spent a day in bed after coming down with food poisoning one night. This unfortunate event actually turned into the highlight of the week, as their Tanzanian coordinator Nico was able to take over the program for the day Nico was CAC’s first contact in Africa in 2008, and has been crucial to the program’s success in not just Tanzania, but all over the world. More than well equipped with three plus years of experience with the CAC curriculum, he was able to mix in some of his own coaching pointers so that the 36 Geita coaches never skipped a beat.

    The girls were able to pick up right where they left off, though they avoided the vegetable curry for the remainder of their stay. The last day of the program also provided a good deal of memories, as Nico was able to coordinate with the Executive Director to get his
    signature on the coaches’ certificates. Upon arriving at the field for the closing ceremony, the staff was thrilled to find the group of girls they had trained in the afternoon all week hard at work with one of the program’s third-year coaches. Marisa, Emily, and Melanie were each given a beautiful blue patterned “kanga” fabric as a parting
    gift, and were sad to say goodbye when the time came for the bus to
    depart.