• The Half Year in Review

    June 11, 2014. The FIFA Men’s World Cup is upon us and Coaches Across Continents has teams of coaches working with local partners in Kenya, Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and starting shortly in four locations in Brazil. Even with all this activity founder Nick Gates also has found time to speak tomorrow morning for 25 minutes on Sirius radio on the Wharton Business network, channel 111 (Thursday, June 12th, 8:00 AM EST).

    With the world focused on the showcase event of the world’s greatest game, it seems like an opportune time to reflect on the real power of sport and how Coaches Across Continents is using football to create self-directed learners all over the world to educate about conflict resolution including social inclusion, female empowerment including gender equity; health & wellness including HIV/AIDS behavioral change, and life skills.

    One of the biggest stories of the year is our partnership with Chevrolet FC and Manchester United and their “What Do You #PlayFor?” campaign. This will be a two-year, ten-program, multi-country initiative that sees revitalized football pitches and sport for social impact education for local organizations all over the world. The first two “What Do You #PlayFor?” programs of the year were fantastic. Videos have been released detailing the work of Rumah Cemara (Indonesia) and their use of soccer to combat stigma against HIV/AIDS. In total these videos have garnered over 7.3 million views! Within the next month another set of videos will be released regarding our latest training in this campaign with fellow former Beyond Sport Winner Beyond the Ball in Little Village, Chicago, USA.

    This year has also seen our coaches on the ground with our Hat Trick Initiative partners in Haiti, Colombia, Mexico, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Indonesia, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania (including Zanzibar), Cameroon, Zimbabwe, and the USA. Overall CAC is projecting that we will conclude 2014 having worked on field with our partners in 28 countries with an estimated 75 local organizations using sport for social impact. This will educate over 3,000 local leaders who will further impact 250,000 children. Even when CAC is not on the ground with our partners we are thrilled to see their progress and work with them through on-line resources. Recently our curriculum was adopted in schools in Nepal and Tanzania. On March 8th, our female empowerment games were played by our partner programs for International Women’s Day. CAC has also signed on with Peace One Day for their One Day One Goal initiative when our games will be played by organizations in over 130 countries on Peace Day, September 21st. The final global day that we support with our global network will be World AIDS Day on December 1st.

    Off field in 2014 Coaches Across Continents has spoken at top events including the Next Step Conference in India, the NSCAA Convention in Philadelphia, Reach Out to Asia’s “Empower” Conference in Qatar, and the Hofstra Soccer Conference in New York where our Chief Executive Strategist, Brian Suskiewicz, had the great privilege of speaking with Pelé.

    Furthermore CAC is one of six organizations selected by UNICEF to develop a global child rights policy concerning children in sport. We are proud that in 2014 every participant of our coaching courses has had a practical and locally relevant Child Rights education session. Off field has also seen the launch of a new website, new branding and logos with the phenomenal work of the Taiji Group, and a more focused mission towards creating self-directed learners over the course of our Hat Trick Initiative.

    It is for all these reasons that Coaches Across Continents is the global leader in sport for social impact. Coaches Across Continents will continue to push forward as the global leader in sport for social impact as we continue our mission of enabling communities to create lasting social change through sport. As we move forward, we are working towards our vision of realizing the day when all governments, municipalities, schools and communities have the skills to use sport as a social impact tool and make the choice to do so.

    If you or your organization want to get involved or support Coaches Across Continents, please contact us at or find the information you are looking for on our new-look website, built by the Taiji Group!

     

    Pelé gets a chance to meet Coaches Across Continents Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz. (photo credit Zack Lane, Hofstra University)

    Pelé gets a chance to meet Coaches Across Continents Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz. (photo credit Zack Lane, Hofstra University)

    Coaches Across Continents Communications Strategist Nora Dooley makes a friend in Haiti

    Coaches Across Continents Communications Strategist Nora Dooley makes a friend in Haiti

    Ginan (center) is the star of the new Chevrolet FC video highlighting the partnership with Coaches Across Continents

    Ginan (center) is the star of the new Chevrolet FC video highlighting the partnership with Coaches Across Continents

     

  • #BringBackOurGirls. Her and Me: Defining Chance

    CAC Senior Staff member, Nora Dooley, tells her story as it compares to the lives of the young women she meets in her CAC travels. 

    I am on a field. The best kind of field. I look around and see players warming up. The best kind of players. I close my eyes. I listen. I am thrown back into a time in my life on a different field, with different players. But the sounds are the same. The feeling is the same. Excitement, energy, passion, and hope.happy soccer When I open my eyes sadness pervades my thoughts. I remember where I am, and reality smashes through my nostalgia like a ball to the gut. The slick turf fields in my mind crumble into the rock­‐strewn dust pitch where I stand. Half-covered in the dust myself, I take in my surroundings. White and brown skin melts into deep black. Common shouts heard during practice jump from English to Créole. Fully‐matured young women run around quite obviously lacking an essential article of female athletic apparel. Goals are missing nets. Cleats are missing soles. But that feeling lingers. Excitement, energy, passion, and, now even more, hope.IMG_9783 The vast majority of my 24 years in this world have been devoted to the game of football – or soccer, thanks America. Before college I lived and breathed the sport. I’m convinced that the only reason I did well in school was because, yes, I have a decent brain thanks to my genes, but mainly I was so competitive in everything else, why not in school too? From the age of 5, it was on. Sports were me and I was sports. Basketball took the early lead, but soccer was gaining fast and soon emerged as the obvious choice – I was a little baller. IMG_7808 Being born and raised in America meant I had to keep up with the competitive nature of the country, which far surpasses my innate yearning for the win and bleeds into every aspect of the suburban sports scene. From equipment to training to multiple teams to travel, blind excess wreaks havoc on youngsters with dreams. A new pair of cleats every season? Par for the course. New warm-­ups so we can look better than the next team? Sure, why not? Beautifully manicured grass pitches? Brand-­new, top of the line field turf? Why? Because we can. This is America. And the best/worst part? My family was on the conservative end of the excess. My supportive parents never reached lunacy like so many others. They only wanted me to be happy, and had the means to do so. How lucky was I? Lucky. Since graduating from Columbia University where I played for the Women’s team for four years, I have jumped full‐throttle into a lifestyle that is drastically different from the first 22 of those oxygen/football guzzling years. I spend my time traveling week to week working for Coaches Across Continents, the best organization that ever claimed to be making a difference in this wildly unequal world. I spread the gospel of football, stifling my competitive urges in the name of social impact – educating underserved communities on how to think differently about the sport in order to empower their children to become self-directed learners. It is a true vocation.
    P1070842 Some of the places I stay would be unacceptable, shocking, in fact, to many of the people I grew up around in suburbia. Places where shitting in a hole with cockroaches exceeding fingers in numbers is the norm, getting malaria is a rite of passage, and iPhones might as well be UFOs. But standards of living are relative, just like pain, and love, and pretty much everything that elicits emotion. We react based on what we are accustomed to – whether I clearly love this man more than the last, or that story about the girl losing her mom hit home because I lost my dad, or man, shitting in a hole sucks, I never knew how high maintenance my ass was. We are the sum of our experiences, and my experiences, lucky as my circumstances were, led me to forgo the comforts of the lifestyle I was used to, and become a bona fide vagabond.But I’m not homeless. I have the most loving family and friends who never make me feel guilty for spending my days so far away. I have financial stability due to a great boss and supportive mother, and I know in an instant, I could return to the other side with the greener grass, and the timed sprinklers, and the fake smiles. But, really, I couldn’t. I can’t. I’m not homeless because my home is on the glass-­ridden, dust-­blown football pitches that furnish communities throughout the world. And, relative to my life, this is the only option. Bridging the absolute abyss that chance of birth creates – this is my ambition.
    IMG_0240 I am back on that field. I’m talking in broken French to a beautiful 20-year-­old Haitian girl. On the surface, sure, we’re different. Her skin is dark, mine is freckled white. Her eyes brown, mine blue. Her hair is in corn-­row braids, mine in one long, thick braid. And then I watch her play, and my metaphorical heart leaps to my throat. What can I say? She reminds me of me – different language, different culture, different people. But in that moment we are two girls with a fierce passion for a game, hoping that it will carry us into our futures, and nothing else is worth the loogie I just hocked.

    So, I ask you, what is the difference between her and me?
    Only chance.
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    Coaches Across Continents supports #BringBackOurGirls and last month ran our Female Empowerment program in Nigeria that impacted 7,500 young Nigerian women.
  • Nigerian Experience


    April 26, 2014. Community Impact Coach Natasha Bredekamp from The Football Foundation of South Africa joined CAC Senior Staff member Sophie Legros for a week in Nigeria – she tells us about her experience.

     

    It’s Sunday morning and the long journey towards Nigeria waits, filled with excitement and ready to coach again after 3 years, I ensure I have all the necessary documents. Board the plane in Cape Town and there are no hassles, phase one of my travels completed successfully, off the plane in Johannesburg and now for the dash across the airport to make it to the International Departure Gate to Nigeria in time. I make it through passport control and as I’m about to board the plane, I am asked for my Yellow Fever Card (OH NO!!!). I don’t have one of those and everyone said I wouldn’t need one but no stress, there is a clinic on Johannesburg airport and I can have the vaccination done there and then board the next plane.P1080873

    Monday morning, vaccine shot received and about to check in for the 2nd attempt to get to Nigeria. Success at last and I’m off, in a double seat all to myself with in-flight entertainment. Arrive in Lagos and the temperature is 35 degrees at 21:00pm (WELCOME TO NIGERIA). I get through passport control and as I’m looking for the assigned driver, I see a mob of people outside and I know there is no way I’m going to find him without any help, so I get an airport attendant to assist me in calling him and have him meet me inside the airport. Finally, we are in Lagos and on our way to the hotel, with buzzing roads and crazy traffic, you are left to wonder; “when does this town sleep?”.

    Tuesday morning, time to meet the Coaches Across Continents Team Mate – Sophie – and off to the training field. Today we are doing the Be Empowered module, with games like Seles Attack and Sawa’s Rights it was destined to be a good day, and so it was, with the enthusiastic students which were compiled of teachers, coaches and players all visibly enjoying every game and taking an interest in the message it delivered. P1080888

    Wednesday and Thursday was the same as Tuesday, same energy, same students but different games. Be Healthy and Be Money Savvy were two modules that grabbed some extra interest as the students couldn’t wait for reviews, so they could make some personal notes about what they learnt.

    Thursday afternoon was extra special as it included a certificate handover ceremony which acknowledges all the participants for their involvement and hard work during the week. An Absa Bank Representative was also available for the ceremony, which was nice as they had sponsored the training and supported the foundation in making it possible that Sophie and I could be there to deliver this amazing training session.

    With a heavy heart my week has come to an end and I am to leave Nigeria Friday night but not without taking a quick trip around Lagos to try and find some local markets. But the universe had other plans for me as it started storming and all the markets were closed, so I spent a few hours at the local mall before departing Nigeria. P1080897

    This trip has reminded me why I love what I do, as making a difference using sports brings so many different cultures, races, gender and nationalities all together in one venue with one GOAL!!

    Thank You to Sophie, Nick, Iwa, Preye, Lean and everyone who made this experience possible – Coaches Across Continents, Ovie Brume Foundation, Women Win, Youth Empowerment Foundation.