• Work Hard, Play Hard – Week 2 in Lima, Peru

    November 4, 2014. Volunteer Coach Tomas Torres-Tarver of the One World Futbol family worked with us earlier this year in Colombia and Mexico. He returns to the field for two weeks in Lima, and writes about his experience during the second week of trainings in partnership with UNICEF Peru.

    On Monday October 13th I woke up at 9:15 am, excited to start my second week with Coaches Across Continents in Peru. The first week had gone very well, so I could not wait to see what this week had in store for us. I was excited to meet all the coaches and teachers that were about to take part in this tiring but amazing weeklong course. So I made myself some eggs, grabbed some coffee, and was ready to go alongside Nora, Billy, and Mauro (Community Impact Coach from Colombianitos) to see how this week would pan out.

    When we first arrived at the school we quickly set up and asked the Baseline questions, which help us evaluate how much the participants know about sport for social impact. Then we went to the field and started with Circle of Friends, which is a game that is designed to get participants talking and feeling a little more comfortable with each other. The group started off a little tense probably because they did not know what to expect, but once they saw how we connect the games to real life the group quickly started getting more involved in the conversations.

    One game that had particularly positive impact was the Lines Game. In this game the group is split into two teams and then each team is divided into four groups. Each group on each team is numbered one through four. The two teams line up facing each other standing in lines ordered one through four. When the person leading the game says any two of the four numbers those two lines switch as fast as possible but only with their own team. The first team that gets into its new position wins the round. This goes on multiple times and depending on how fast the group gets the game we start adding new rules like no talking. It was unbelievable how fast this group picked up the game, so we decided to test them: if the person leading the game put up only one number, the two groups with that number would switch across to the other team’s side and this would change the teams. This was one of the best games of the week because it was where the participants really started to understand the idea of this training. To finish the Lines Game we asked the group if they could identify the social message of the game and they said, among other things, communication, problem solving, and working as a team. These were great answers as one of the most important aspects of this game is allowing the players to come up with their own solutions instead of the coach interfering with the problem-solving process. We hope they carry this lesson and coaching style with them into their fields of work, as it is crucial in creating self-directed learners.

    After a great first day, we were invited to stay and practice with the Escuela de Futbol Feminino, a women’s semi-professional futbol team and one of our partner programs in Lima. The girls were awesome and they put us through some of the drills they do on a regular basis, leaving me panting and out of breath by the time I was done. Then we got a chance to play with them in small-sided games, which was a blast. We got to play with these girls three out of the 5 days after our sessions, which was inspiring because in many of these young ladies’ communities they are told that women cannot play futbol. The passion and love for the game that drives these girls to play is truly amazing, and I’m very happy I got a chance to coach and play with these incredible young women.

    During one of the afternoons later in the week we went to see one of the largest impoverished communities of Lima. We went to a school where there were only two teachers working with many children. The work they were doing was amazing, it was like they were the only two people in Lima that knew about this section of the city, or that everyone else had forgotten or didn’t care about this large Brazilian favela-like part of Lima. We shared some of the CAC games with the children, which was difficult for me because I had been left speechless thinking about how a city could just forget about such a large part of its population. We ended the visit at the school with a little futbol match with all the kids. This was a truly moving and humbling experience.

    The last day of the program came so fast, and it was evident that all the participants had really learned and taken to heart the new coaching style we had taught them over the past five days. It is a very good feeling having all these people coming up to us and thanking us for coming to their community and helping them learn how they can have a greater impact with the kids they work with. I couldn’t help but think that I had learned so much from these amazing coaches that really do what they do because of the love they have for their communities, and that passion is an amazing thing to be around. I feel so lucky that I got the opportunity to work with CAC and hope to be with them again in the future to do more of this incredible work.

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  • Next Stop: South Africa – CAC and Chevrolet Take 3

    September 25th, 2014. Fresh off the plane from Cambodia, CAC Founder Nick Gates and Senior Staff member Nora Dooley returned to South Africa for our third program in partnership with Chevrolet. The first two took place earlier this year in Bandung, Indonesia, and Chicago, USA, whereas this one was run in a community called Hammanskraal, north of the capital city, Pretoria.

    For the first four days of this Chevrolet FC training our team worked in tandem with the South African Football Association (SAFA) who led a D-License course for the 37 ESSP (Extra Support Sport Program) leaders from 17 schools around the Hammanskraal area. This was an introductory level course into coaching football and had a particular focus on life skills. Naturally CAC took the reigns when it came to the On-Field instruction, training these leaders in how to use sport to educate children on important social issues and to develop crucial life skills.

    For the following five days our staff went deeper with the ESSP teachers and taught them a total of 47 games that they can use with their students. We worked through many different modules of our social impact curriculum including games from our standard Skills for Life, Conflict Resolution, Health & Wellness, and Gender Equity themes as well as those about Financial Literacy, Female Empowerment, and HIV behavior change.

    One game that had a particularly positive impact was renamed Hammanskraal Social Squares to best suit the needs of the group. In this game we divided the group into four teams and had them each stand in one square marked out at each corner of a larger square. We asked each group to think of the most challenging problem facing their community and they came up with poverty, unemployment, corruption, and teenage pregnancy. Then we played the game. When we shouted two of those words, the two teams representing those words had to switch places as fast as possible. Once they got the hang of the rules, we added more challenges such as a ball that every player had to touch before the team arrived at the new square. Then we asked the groups to come up with a new word. This time they had to think of one word that could be a solution to the problem they already thought of. The groups came up with job creation, education, new leadership, and good choices. To make the game more challenging we adjusted the rules so that the squares represented the solutions and the teams had to remember what each square signified. This was a great game for us to play early on in the training in order to start the important conversations about social issues in the community and beyond. The game led to some great discussions on topics such as education and how to beat corruption.

    On the final day of the training the coaches organized a festival for local students in order to complete their SAFA D-License. Without any instruction from our team on what games to play with the children, the coaches chose all CAC games and absolutely blew us away with the success of the day. After the festival players were telling us what they learned from the ESSP coaches and brought up lessons like how to avoid peer pressure, the importance of education, gender equality, and solving problems without violence. We were beyond impressed. The transformation that these 37 coaches – 22 women and 15 men – went through over the course of the 10 days was phenomenal.

    The final day of the program was the big event where everyone came together at one of the local schools for the big Chevrolet tournament. Manchester United legend Gary Bailey, a native of South Africa, joined the team as well as an all-star crew from our partners at One World Futbol Project (OWFP). The OWFP Founders revealed the donation of the 1,000,000th football in a very special ceremony. The day was a huge success with 17 girls teams from all the schools where our newly trained ESSP Social Impact coaches teach. They competed in small-sided games and the players who demonstrated the most positive attitudes and best sportsmanship were awarded with the opportunity to play in a final match with 2 players from every team.

    As the theme for the training was centered on Female Empowerment, this was an incredible way to end the program with so many girls enjoying the beautiful game and their 37 coaches (22 being women) supporting them through it all. We were also honored by the presence of a team of grandmothers called Rekone Gogos FC who train 6 days a week at a nearby field, coached by 2 of the male ESSP coaches. They were the best fans of all and added an extra layer of excitement to an already empowered program.

    Stay tuned to see what’s next for our partnership with Chevrolet and Manchester United.

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