CAC Delivers Purposeful Play in Paris Refugee Centers during the Women’s World Cup
July 11, 2019. CAC’s Nora Dooley writes from Lyon, France where she watched USA vs. England in the World Cup semifinals after finishing On-Field trainings for CAC partners in Paris.
Six years of working with Coaches Across Continents and our incredible partners have given me the most unimaginable (at least to my adolescent brain!) education in empathy. From mid-May to mid-June I traveled from Brazil to México to Colombia to the USA to Tanzania and landed in France just in time for the most important football event in the world.
I list these travels not to boast my privilege nor shame my environmental footprint, but rather to share facts about the access that I have to the world because of the circumstances of my birth. Access granted to some people, denied to more people, and likely never even to be pursued by most people.
Then I think about the humans I shared space with in Paris for 8 days of Purposeful Play trainings with CAC partners who serve refugee and displaced communities across the city. Long-time partner, Fútbol Más France, and new partner, Kabubu, run different types of programs for refugees and migrants from dozens of countries including Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Congo, Romania, Angola, Eritrea, Senegal, Mali, Sudan, Tibet, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and others who are living in mostly short-term refugee centers in the south of the city. Fútbol Más runs weekly sports sessions for girls and boys of all ages as well as separate sessions for adult women and men. Their unique challenges include communication across language barriers, gender inequalities arriving from different cultures, and building an adaptable set of activities that can be used in different contexts and especially as participants come and go from the short-term establishments. CAC supports Fútbol Más and now Kabubu to integrate Purposeful Play methodology into their sessions to address these challenges and more intentionally educate and empower using play-based activities.
Through this work in Paris – and generally with CAC – I have shared and played with humans with stories I will never be able to fully understand, histories that bounced them across borders and oceans in search of safe, welcoming homes. I think about them as I bounce around this world searching for something else, while finding a humbling fulfillment in knowing that people from perhaps the most challenging, conflict-ridden circumstances find joy, safety and identity through CAC games.
Rohingya Refugees and UN SDGs
Over 900,000 Rohingya refugees are now living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. This is 3x bigger than any other refugee camp in the world. Starting last year, renewed violence including reports of rape, murder, and arson forced nearly all the Rohingya people living in the Rakhine state of Myanmar to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, and instantly fracturing their society.
Imagine all the people living in Austin, Texas fleeing en masse with no possessions, money, or communication – with family & friends permanently separated… or worse.
The UNHCR has taken the monumental task to lead the care for this population, including feeding, housing, and other basic needs. But these services only address so much. Refugees are coming from an instantly fractured society and arriving at a place where they might not know anyone. Many have been permanently separated from families, neighbors, and friends. Individuals, especially children, single women, the elderly, and the disabled are at increased vulnerability to suffer additional harm. It is here that other organizations, oftentimes NGOs, look to work with the UNHCR to provide vital services including Community Based Protection.
Coaches Across Continents, supported by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), have started a 6-month pilot program to use football to create Community Based Protection. Our program is using football to rebuild that fabric of society, and those networks, so that people are able to care for their families, their new neighbors, and each other – so that everyone is better supported and better protected, and therefore at reduced risk for experiencing additional harm.
Our On-Field interview with Adam Nord (UNHCR Community Based Protection) explains this concept further in this 3+ minute video.
“I see that this program… is a very important part of this as well. It’s about using a very strong community-based approach to train new young refugee coaches who are then going to go back into their community to work with and to support other youth / other individuals in a way that engages and strengthens those society ties. That’s complimented within CAC’s trainings on child protection, violence, and other issues, allows them then to engage through sports… in discussing those issues that are affecting their communities”
“It’s an excellent example of a community based approach” – Adam Nord, UNHCR Child Protection
Over the course of the 6-month pilot supported by the AFC, Coaches Across Continents has trained 75 local Rohingya refugees to become soccer coaches across 25 different camps/districts within Cox’s Bazar. Equipment has been provided by the AFC and BFF so that they can engage boys and girls in their community on a weekly basis, and begin to impact some of the 500,000 children under the age of 17 living in the camps. Throughout the year the newly minted coaches will receive communication, mentoring, and support from the BFF and CAC. The 6-month pilot will culminate with a Football Fun Festival in May, 2019, with an eye towards continuing and expanding this program as funding allows.
The Beyond Sport Awards: #WhatsYourLegacy?
September 10, 2018. Coaches Across Continents is looking forward to the Beyond Sport Awards in NYC on Wednesday, September 12, 2018. For the second consecutive year, CAC is shortlisted for the Global Impact of the Year Award, this year with our #WhatsYourLegacy? campaign. Overall there were 355 separate applications from over 100 countries on 6 continents for 10 categories of awards.
Over 25% of the finalists at this year’s Beyond Sport Awards are CAC partners!
Coaches Across Continents’ #WhatsYourLegacy? impacts over 16 million children in 56 countries on 6 continents through our three primary initiatives: 1. Corporation and Foundation Legacy Program; 2. Government and Community Legacy Program; and 3. Curriculum Legacy Program. All of these initiatives look to create Legacies of Social Change based on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
It is symbolic that in our tenth year, in the month that we celebrate our ten-year anniversary with #CAC10, we are being recognized for our impact on the sport for social impact field. Just last week, Founder Nick Gates wrote about his thoughts from working in a small town in Kigoma, Tanzania in 2008 to what is being accomplished daily through our year-round partnerships and 28 strategic resources. Coaches Across Continents was recognized 9 years ago by Beyond Sport with the Best New Project which helped to launch CAC on our road to success. This followed with Corporate of the Year with Chevrolet in 2014 as well as 22 other major global awards.
Nick is joined at the awards by ASK for Choice Strategist, Nora Dooley and Sustainability Strategist, Adam Burgess. The Awards may very well feel like a reunion of sorts, as the influence of CAC partnerships will be seen throughout. Nick, Nora, and Adam will be very busy meeting our partners who were also shortlisted and meeting some other new faces. CAC directly partners with 7 of the 35 finalists in the main categories. There are also two separate categories where CAC partners are recognized. 2 of the 5 young leaders nominated for the Courageous Use of Sport Award and 2 of the 3 finalists for Sport for Refugees Award are CAC partners.
Thursday, after the awards ceremony is the Beyond Sport United Conference. Nora will be the expert on a panel on how sport specifically can support young people in being socially responsible and active.
Not to be outdone by all the activity in NYC, 12 time zones away, Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz is in Kuala Lumpur for the Asian Football (AFC) Confederation Social Responsibility Conference and Dream Asia awards, occurring on the same two days. As the Official Social Responsibility Partner of the AFC, Coaches Across Continents is responsible for presenting at activities such as this one to share knowledge and best practices with their 47 member institutions as well as other organizations looking to use sport to create social change in Asia.
Chile, Cuatro Ciudades
April 27, 2018. Community Impact Coach Lina reflects on her on-field weeks working with CAC partner Futbol Mas in Chile, alongside the rest of the CAC team.
Iquique, Copiapó, Santiago y Concepción
Durante esta experiencia de dos semanas, puedo decir que tuvimos (Nora, Abby y yo) el privilegio de compartir con personas maravillosas de diferentes ciudades de Chile. En cada desplazamiento se observaba los contrastes en sus paisajes, las dunas, el mar, lo árido, lo verde, las montañas, el frio, el calor y esto se reflejó en la fuerza de su gente con el “exceso de pasión” para cada momento.
Durante las dos semanas pudimos trascender el deporte más allá de la alta competencia (Ganar/Perder), a través de juegos direccionados a temas de impacto social: inclusión, equidad, respeto al otro, interculturalidad, derechos humanos, educación sexual y medio ambiente. Al compartir metodologías se nos pueden abrir oportunidades para ampliar nuestra comprensión.
Gracias por hacerlo posible, CAC, Ask for Choice, Fútbol Más e Inder Medellín.
Blog 1 – Culture Shock
April 11, 2018. Global Citizen, Abigale Gibbons, writes about her first time on-field with Coaches Across Continents while working with Fútbol Más Chile.
Before my departure to Chile and Peru as a Global Citizen, I had no idea what to expect. I have a passion for sport and using it for social impact—which is the reason I was initially captivated by Coaches Across Continents, conversational Spanish (more or less) and was waiting to see where the following weeks would take me.
The first training was an eye opening and learning experience for me. The opportunity to finally work on an all female team, especially in the space of athletics, was (and is) an incredibly empowering feeling. I took the initial days to learn and absorb the process and planning it takes to host a training. (If you think hosting a training is easy, think again.) It takes a lot of research, intuition and understanding to properly run each session and it was certainly more intense than I imagined it to be. After hours of preparation, I was excited to see how all of the work off-field would play out on field.
The first city we landed in was Iquique—a beautiful town with a beach that resembles Rio de Janeiro or the California coast on one side and blissful mountain deserts on the other. In Iquique and all throughout Chile, we would be working alongside CAC partner Fútbol Màs, a global organization that uses sport in communities to recover public places and create safe spaces for children to train and grow.
For me personally, this first training was amazing, challenging and overwhelming all at the same time. After being so adjusted to my life in the States, the reality that I was now an outsider—who couldn’t properly communicate or understand the local language—quickly led me to begin to think differently, become more aware of those around me, have greater empathy and change my previous perspectives of what life is like for a foreigner living in a new culture, city, country and community.
One of my greatest takeaways from this first training was how grateful I was to be welcomed, as a stranger, into the lives and communities of the participants and Fútbol Màs. I began to develop a clearer understanding that we are all humans who want to help each other, learn from each other and better our communities by encouraging new ideas and evolution from tradition.
It’s Colombia not Columbia
December 15th, 2017. Nora Dooley writes about delivering ASK for Choice programs in Colombia with Community Partner Inder Alcaldía de Medellín, alongside Corporate Partners Nike, Postobón, GIZ, and Groupo Internacional de Paz, to close out a strong year working across the country for the rights of women and girls.
I treasure this moment of reflection. Four years after beginning my work with Coaches Across Continents, five years after graduating from Columbia University, I have spent more time in one country than any other: Colombia.
Working with CAC as a facilitator necessitates humility and a unique acceptance of the unknown. With our intention to challenge international NGO culture that designs development programs based on foreign knowledge of best practices (which can also be called white supremacy/ neo-colonialism), we must enter each community assuming and imposing nothing. Our job is to provide some structure through fun, play-based activities that stimulate group discussion, self-directed learning and collective problem-solving, and to support our partners as they create legacies for the social changes they want to see.
As little as I claim to know about this world, I can share some experiences – many of which I have enjoyed in Colombia with a faction of the large government organization, Inder Medellín.
Colombia is complicated. And even knowing more people and more facts about this country than most others, my U.S.-raised brain cannot imagine the depths of this complexity. I feel so fortunate, therefore, to have various and continuous opportunities to share time and space with Colombians invested in their community’s future.
Our work in Colombia throughout 2017 was bolstered by the social responsibility efforts of Nike and Postobón. This programming, centered on our ASK for Choice program which uses play to develop Attitudes, Skills and Knowledge to inform choices for women, men, and communities, caught some welcome attention. We spent a week north of Bogotá sharing with the GIZ sponsored program in collaboration with CAC partner, Grupo Internacional de Paz, and then returned to Medellín to learn more alongside humans I am lucky to call friends at Inder.
During this training with representatives from Inder’s ‘Deporte, Convivencia y Paz’ and ‘Cultura D’ teams, we focused on gender, problem-solving, game adaptation and creation, challenging and transforming the cultures we want to change, and the vast possibilities available inside the lines of the sports field to address all that lives beyond it.
I feel so grateful for CAC’s strong partnership with Inder, for my Paisa family, and for the experience (and wisdom?) to know – at least in my life – that it most definitely is Colombia, not Columbia.