• The Sun Newspaper with CAC in Uganda

    July 11th 2013: Coaches Across Continents continues to make headlines around the world. Earlier this year ROBIN PERRIE, a reporter with The Sun, the biggest selling newspaper in the UK, travelled to Uganda with us to see our work with former child soldiers. Here is his story.

    TEENAGER Pamela Gitty suffered unimaginable horrors when she was kidnapped by the blood-thirsty warlord Joseph Kony and forced into battle as a child soldier. She was repeatedly raped by the brute’s henchmen and had to patrol barefoot through the bush in northern Uganda firing on government troops with an AK47 – all when she was just 15. But despite the trauma she experienced, Pamela has rebuilt her life thanks to a remarkable link-up between a former Premiership soccer boss and one of Kony’s reformed officers.

    Nick Gates, 46, ran a successful sports firm and worked as a business executive at Middlesbrough when they were in the top flight. But the soccer-mad tycoon gave it all up to devote his life to helping the world’s most troubled youngsters – using the power of football. He ploughed £2m of his own money into a charity – Coaches Across Continents – which has now worked with 320,000 kids in 20 countries. They train locals how to be coaches so they in turn can use simple football games to teach younger generations to resolve arguments peacefully, educate them about HIV/Aids and give girls confidence in male-dominated societies. Nick has coached youngsters in earthquake-ravaged Haiti, taught boys how to respect women in India, a country shamed by recent rape cases, and played on dirt pitches with HIV positive slum kids across Africa.

    But the most heart-rending stories he has come across are the former child soldiers in Uganda, where Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army committed atrocities for 25 years. The evil Guerrilla leader came to the world’s attention last year when the Kony 2012 video went viral across Facebook and Twitter but he is still at large, despite a $5m bounty on his head.

    Nick is one of the many selfless charity workers left to pick up the pieces following the countless acts of savagery his army committed. He works with kids at a school in the remote town of Pader, a gruelling ten-hour drive from the capital of Kampala, the last three of which are on a rutted dirt road. The school is run by Friends of Orphans (FRO), a charity started by Ricky Anywar, himself a former child soldier. Ricky, 38, has helped rehabilitate more than 1,100 child soldiers in his home town and in the past four years has been doing it with the help of Nick and his innovative coaching techniques. Nick said: “Ricky recognised that football was a great way of helping these kids who’d had their childhoods stolen. They had forgotten how to laugh and football was the medicine that could help them.” Ricky added: “This is a sad story but it is also one of hope.”

    One of the stars of the programme is Pamela, now 25, who used her time at the school to become a qualified mechanic. She was abducted in 2003 after being forced to watch her parents beaten to death. She then spent the next two years as a child soldier and sex slave, eventually giving birth to a daughter who was fathered by one of Kony’s commanders. She said:

    “My parents were beaten by clubs and I witnessed it. I became paralysed. I did not know what was happening. I lost all my senses. Visions of their murder still come to me and it brings me lots of pain. When I was abducted I was terrified that I would be killed like my parents. But if you show fear they will force you to kill someone so you learn courage. I was used as a sex slave. Once you are abducted there is no choice. From that moment the girls cannot say no. I was forced to fight. The young recruits always had to go in front when we were moving through the bush so you had to fire to protect yourself from government troops. I fired the gun a lot but I don’t know if I killed anyone.”

    After two years she managed to escape when her unit scattered during an attack by government troops. She struggled to cope with life until she heard about Ricky’s school. She spent a year there where she learned the skills to become a mechanic but one of her favourite lessons was playing football with Nick. Pamela said: “It made me very happy and taught me how to make friends and get along with people again.”

    The distance between Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Ricky’s school in Pader is about 4,000 miles – but his pupils are all huge Toon fans thanks to Sir Bobby Robson. Thousands of fans donated shirts and scarves in his memory when the former Newcastle and England manager died in 2009. The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation passed them to a number of charities – including Nick’s – to give to kids in Africa. There were so many that they are still being distributed and The Sun took over hundreds of them for Ricky’s pupils when we visited his school. LTN_FOOTBALL_UGANDA_22One was Tookema Innocent, 19, who was a child soldier for six months. The shy teenager is quietly spoken and modest – yet he was once forced to stab to death a girl child soldier who had tried to escape. One day he hopes to open his own IT business but for now he is the proud owner of a Newcastle United top. He said: “I am a Chelsea fan but now I know that Bobby Robson was a great man.”

    Sir Bobby’s widow Lady Elsie was delighted to hear that the troubled kids were getting so much joy from the shirts and scarves. She said: “Bobby was a big supporter of Coaches Across Continents because he appreciated the power of football to put a smile on people’s faces. He worked all over the world so he knew that football is an international language. These children have very little compared to us in Britain. But what they do have is the same love of the game that Bobby had and he would have been thrilled to know they had gained some pleasure from the shirts and scarves. It proves that his legacy lives on.”

    Ricky was determined to help his fellow child soldiers after he finally escaped from Kony’s clutches. He had been abducted as a 14-year-old alongside his older brother Patrick and they were then forced to watch as their parents and three younger sisters were locked inside a mud hut which was set alight. Ricky took The Sun back to the old family home, a stone-built house about a mile from Pader, which is now boarded up. He wept as he stared at the spot where his family were murdered, the overgrown base of the mud hut now the only visible sign left of what had served as the children’s bedroom before the LRA struck. Ricky said:

    “They tied them to the pillar in the centre of the hut so there was no escape. My world just collapsed as I looked them in the face. I felt dead inside and the whole world went dark. They locked the door with a padlock and started the fire. The grass roof was so dry that it goes up like petrol. There was a lot of screaming. No-one will die quietly unless it is with a gun.” The brothers were taken into the bush with another 350 local kids at the start of what would be a two-and-a-half-year nightmare for Ricky. He said: “A boy called Joseph tried to escape but he was caught so they used him as part of our indoctrination. One of the commanders told the group: ‘Joseph escaped from us, so we are going to kill Joseph’. But then they said: ‘We are not going to kill him, you are’. We were all lined up and everyone had to cut him with a machete. You had to cut him really hard so the commanders could see you had no fear. Just as it got to me it was stopped because Joseph was in such a mess. When he breathed out blood sprayed from his cuts like water from the pipe. From then on they told everyone that instead of cutting him, you had to walk on him. I was missed though and did not have to hurt him, which was a miracle. After he had died they said to us: ‘If you ever escape, Joseph’s spirit will haunt you and we will catch you, bring you back and kill you’.”

    Ricky rose to the equivalent rank of sergeant major and also acted as quartermaster – keeping a check on his unit’s guns and ammo and registering new recruits. At one stage his brother escaped and he then spent three months planning his own escape which he successfully made one night with two friends. But when he returned home he discovered Patrick had been unable to cope with life and had hanged himself from a tree a few yards from where their family had died. A month later Ricky was captured again by the LRA and taken back to the bush, but four days later escaped a second time and this time for good. He moved to another town where he got a job at a gin factory. The owner befriend him and paid for him to go to school and he then got a job in the personnel department of the Ministry of Education and Sports in Kampala. But he felt his true calling was to head back north to help his fellow victims of the war. He said:

    “Joseph Kony broke my heart, but he did not break my spirit. I thought that if God helped me to grow to an adult then I needed to help the children. They have wounds in their hearts and minds that need to be washed and cleaned through rehabilitation. I felt the same tears, I saw it first hand. The most difficult thing for a child soldier is to talk openly about what they did because it is very embarrassing and they do not trust anyone. So I became the voice for these voiceless children. Rehab alone is not enough so that is why we started the vocational school. Child soldiers have no education, no skills, they are brought up in ignorance and violence. So they come to our school to learn a skill to generate income. And we teach them that if they go back to their villages we need peace. You don’t resolve conflicts by violence. Most important of all, we give them hope.”

    The school opened in 2003 and around 200 former child soldiers and war orphans attend the 12-month course each year. Nick’s football coaching was made part of the curriculum in 2010. He said:

    “Without doubt the issue was that the kids had lost their voice. The worst thing as a child soldier is to have a voice in the bush because it gets you noticed and will lead to you being beaten or worse. We get them practising skills named after famous players so it makes it easy for them to remember them. As they do the skill they have to shout out its name. It gives them confidence to talk in a group. We also build team work and leadership using games where one person is captain, they have to a make a decision and others have to listen and follow that decision. The improvement we see is amazing. They learn to interact, to make friends and to laugh again.”

    Nick, whose dad Bill played for Middlesbrough and whose uncle is former Ipswich Town ace Eric Gates, could have been a footballer himself. He played for England U18s and was offered a contract by Leeds, Ipswich and Luton. He took the academic route instead and ended up at Harvard University in America where he studied sociology. He then set up a chain of sports shops in the States, just like his dad had done in the North East when he retired from playing, and also ran hundreds of soccer camps. After he left that business he travelled the world, visiting more than 50 countries to research how sport could help poverty-stricken communities. Nick worked as Middlesbrough’s Business of Football executive in the 2003/4 season when future England boss Steve McClaren was manager. After leaving the Boro he travelled again before coming up with the idea for Coaches Across Continents in 2007. He launched it with just one programme the following year in Tanzania. But – with a skeleton staff of just six full-timers and 50 volunteers – he has now run 46 programmes across three continents.

    Each one of these uses indestructible footballs, an incredible invention developed by American charity One World Futbol, backed by rock star Sting. The kids play on such rough pitches that normal balls burst easily. LTN_FOOTBALL_UGANDA_07
    But these balls – made out of the same material as Crocs shoes – are impossible to burst even with a knife and never need pumping up. Nick said: “They are ideal for pitches which are covered in stones and rocks. These communities can barely afford one ball never mind replacing it every time it bursts.”

  • Meet our Partner Programs in Uganda

    Meet Kampala School of Excellence Ministries
    1. What is your name and what is your organization? Ntale Daniel Kiseka and am the founder of Kampala School Of Excellence Ministries

    2. What is the biggest message you try to teach your kids through the game of soccer?  Our main answer with football is to teach goal setting because we believe that it helps one succeed in life. We believe that participation in sports gives a child fun, practical and active way to learn about goal setting.

    3. Who is your favorite soccer team? CHELSEA Football Club
    4. If you could meet any famous soccer person in the world, who would it be and why?
    Didier Drogba, I would feel so great seeing a blood brother succeeding in life to famous world.

    5. What is the thing you are looking forward to most about working with Coaches Across Continents? 

    With the help of working with your organization, a number of our trained coaches have become more engaged with their teams while helping them to steward each player towards a positive outcome, such as going to or playing in college or beyond.

    Meet Buwate Youth Sports Academy

    1. What is your name and what is organization? My names are KATO RICHARD SSEBUNYA. THE ORGANIZATION IS BUWATE YOUTH SPORTS ACADEMY.
    2. What is the biggest message you try to teach your kids through the game of soccer?
    HIV/AIDS awareness, social Development, and to keep out of Drugs
    3. What is your favorite soccer team?
    4. If you could meet any famous soccer person in world , who would it be?
    BECKHAM AND MARTA THE FEMALE so that I can tell them about our organization. 
    5. What is best thing about working with Coaches Across Continents?
    To gain knowledge and to promote our organization.

    Meet Friends of Orphans (FRO)

    1. What is your name and what is your organization? My name is Anywar Ricky Richard and the name of my organization is call Friends of Orphans.

    2. What is the biggest message you try to teach your kids through the game of soccer?

    Friends of Orphans runs games and sports program to help in peace building and reconciliation among the people of northern Uganda who have been at war for over 21 years. FRO supports many different games and sports teams in northern Uganda through training, supplies of games and sports equipments and holds games and sports competitions, which draws teams from many different communities – this encourages interaction and engenders a sense of community. FRO trains peace builder’s educators – who are able to instruct, educate and also monitor human rights’ violation – and community groups.

    3. Who is your favorite soccer team? Arsenal

    4. If you could meet any famous soccer person in the world, who would it be? Thierry Henry because he looks very humble and kind.

    5. What is the best thing about working with Coaches Across Continents? Bringing in well experienced coaches to work with Friends of Orphans. Also for using soccer as a way to mobilize communities to teach them in various aspects of developments.

  • A Letter from a former child soldier in Pader, Northern Uganda

    May 7th, 2012.  In response to Kony 2012, Ricky the founder of our partner FRO, wrote this objective letter to Coaches Across Continents

    Coaches Across Continents in Uganda

    I am writing from Pader, Uganda because I believe the recent conversation about Kony, the Lord’s Resistance Army and Invisible Children is not including the voice of those that matter most in this conversation – the people of Northern Uganda who have had their lives and families terrorized by the LRA. I know more than I would like to know about the LRA, not from watching Kony 2012 or reading insightful accounts of the conflict, but because personally I have seen it, have lived it and have been in it. I was one of the now famous “child soldiers”. I was abducted at the age of 14 years with my brother by the LRA and remained with them for nearly 2.5 years. We were picked up in front of our home, our powerless family members were burned to death in our grass-thatched house while we were forced to watch and hear them cry for help. I saw brutality beyond description; I saw tortures, rapes, killing, abduction and war. Since 1999, through Friends of Orphans I have worked to rehabilitate countless former child soldiers and others affected by the war to reverse the massive amount of damage the LRA has done to my community and our youth. I know for real how bad the LRA rebels are and I demand for the immediate end to this conflict. I believe for this to happen, OUR voices must be heard.

    At this moment, more than ever, the optimism and hope of the people in northern Uganda for the end of violent conflict and return of peace in the region is more prominent than ever. This is a direct outcome of the protracted negotiation that previously took place in southern Sudan. Even though the peace talks headed by Riek Machar did not result in a peace agreement between the LRA and the government of Uganda, it has brought relative peace to Northern Uganda and people have moved back to their original villages from the refugee camps, at least for now there is no Joseph Kony in Uganda.

    I support the peaceful means of ending this conflict rather than the military approach. I encourage it continually since it has brought tangible results and has saved many lives that would have been otherwise lost to the war. The people of Northern Uganda believe more in a peaceful means of resolving this conflict because it has been tried and it has worked, they have seen the result.

    Invisible Children are known in Northern Uganda as a scholar organization supporting former abductees education, which much needed in the region. But they are not known as a peace building organization and I do not think they have experiences with peace building and conflict resolution methods. I totally disagree with their approach of military action as a mean to end this conflict. Since 1989 the government of Uganda has been consistently used military campaigns against Kony including major operations like operation Iron Fist and Lightening Thunder. Operation Lightening Thunder was highly expected to end the war by either capturing Kony alive or killing him. This was carried out by UPDF (Uganda army), DR Congo army and the SPLA southern Sudan army on Kony in DR Congo with the technical support from the USA government and still it failed and instead spread the atrocities to Central African Republic as Kony relocated there. The only known result of the military attacks on Kony is dispersing the rebels into smaller groups from their base resulting in all kinds of atrocities on civilians including the Baralonyo attack in Lira district, (http://ugandaradionetwork.com/a/story.php?s=34980) the Kanga Pa-aculu attack in Pader district and many others where a lot of civilians lost their lives. It is also well known that a majority of the LRA soldiers are abducted children, he uses these abducted children as a shield to protect himself from any military attacks, as a result any attack will be on the abducted children.

    Now, how can this be done? Instead of campaigning for military action as a means to end this war, I suggest a continuation of the failed peace talks. I would urge everyone involved in the process to examine what made the peace talks fail and how can we improve and reinstate the process. As an example, the government of Sudan, a key player in the financing the war, was left out and not involved in the previous peace talks. I strongly believe they can play a greater role in the peace process.

    Furthermore, there seems to be a continual call for Kony to be taken to the ICC if captured. Communities agree that if Kony is captured he should be brought to book to answer for the war crimes he committed. Some want Kony to be taken to the ICC while others says he should be tried locally in Uganda so that it act as a lesion to others who would have bad intentions like that of Joseph Kony and bring closure for the communities affected. This becomes ever more complicated because others suggest that both parties involved in the war should be investigated and possibly tried too. People like Doctor Olara Otunnu, the president of Uganda People’s Congress, has written widely about the UPDF’s involvement in causing various atrocities during this conflict. The Government of Uganda has denied any wrong doing on its part. What is certain is that is not a simple problem that can be solved with a simple solution, this will inevitably require intervention in the form of a systematic approach in bringing Kony to book if reconciliation is to provide opportunities to all people affected by war and the wider communities to have a voice in peace building, reconciliation and societal healing. This will prepare the communities in Northern Uganda for subsequent rehabilitation with a view of shaping their immediate future through promotion of social inclusion and demonstrated ownership.

    Coaches Across Continents leader “Vidic’ in Pader

    What we want is to stop the war in a way that will not cause any more atrocities because the people of northern Uganda have shed too much blood from this war. We do not want to see more death and destruction in the process of ending the war. Nobody supports Kony in Northern Uganda; we are only tired of wars and now want to look at ways in which sustainable peace can be restored in northern Uganda without seeing more people dying.

    This brings me to my last point. We should also remember that the effect of the war is more painful than the war itself, so we need to think of more practical ways to rebuild and heal our community. We are now at the beginning of a long journey ahead. My vision is to build a Northern Ugandan society in which the vulnerable are empowered to achieve their full potential and contribute to the development of their community. In 1999 I founded Friends of Orphans (www.frouganda.org) to work with former child soldiers, orphans, child mothers, war and HIV/AIDS affected and infected communities in Northern Uganda to rehabilitate, reintegrate and empower them. We provide education (both vocational and academic), health, peace building, human rights, income generating activities and livelihood support programs. FRO is now working to build a radio station to help give voice to the voiceless through radio communication. The goal of the radio station is to promote peace and human dignity throughout our area. Our aim is to ensure that the perspectives of the people whose lives are most affected by development (mainly the poor and marginalized) are included within decision-making. The aim is to use information to empower the disadvantage communities economically and fight poverty so as to improve on their standard of living and contribute to the development of their communities. Just as Invisible Children is doing, we are trying to amplify “the voice of the voiceless”, however instead of through social media, we just want to start with radio. To do so, we need the support of all those who now know what we have endured and will not stand for it.

    We thank Invisible Children for making you aware of what has happened in Northern Uganda and request they continue to focus their enthusiasm and resources toward building a better Uganda.

    Anywar Ricky Richard is a former LRA child soldier and founder of the charity organization Friends of Orphans (FRO) www.frouganda.org Ricky and FRO have been awarded the2008 Harriet Tubman Freedom Award and the 2008 Humanitarian Award from World of Children.



    Brief History of Friends of Orphans (FRO):

    Friends of Orphans (FRO) was founded and is administered by former child soldiers and abductees from Pader District, all of whom were and continue to be affected by the war in Northern Uganda. FRO founder Ricky Anywar Richard and others

    Seeing the smiles in Pader with Coaches Across Continents partner, FRO.

    conceived Friends of Orphans in 1999 when some of its organizing members were pursuing their degrees at the University of Makerere. From our experiences as former abductees and orphans, many of whom also lost immediate and extended family members, friends and neighbors, suffered displacement and continue to suffer those losses, led us to commit to the ongoing and unmet needs of our community.

    We formally prepared ourselves as educators, medical officers, administrators, environmentalists, and in other professions through university education and work experience to enable us to organize an organization with the vision and ability to meet the psycho-social, education and training, economic development, peace building, human rights, livelihood support programs and family service, cultural and social needs of children and women affected by conflict in Northern Uganda.

    Since 1999, we have launched community-based education, vocational skill training, HIV/AIDS prevention, peace building and community development programs in Northern Uganda which address the immediate and long term needs of the community, many of whom are former child soldiers, child mothers, orphans, youths and women.

    Friends of Orphans,

    P. O Box 29536, Kampala, Uganda.

    Tel: +256 772 383 574,

    E-Mail: ,

    Website: www.frouganda.org

  • Off the beaten path: Our program in Pader, Northern Uganda

    Charles "Vidic" who is the captain of the FRO coaching team

    July 25th, 2011:  Brian talks about our program in Pader with Friends of Orphans.

    It is mid July and I have just left Pader, Uganda. If you type that into Google you may be able to figure out that Pader is in Northern Uganda, about two hours from Gulu. Dig a little deeper and you might learn that this was one of many towns and communities recently ravaged by sixteen years of war by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony against the Acholi people. The violence between the LRA and government forces displaced nearly 1.6 million people in Northern Uganda and the LRA abducted over 66,000 children to serve as soldiers for their campaign of violence. Almost every type of atrocity you can imagine was committed during this insurgency. Many of the abducted children were forced to murder their own parents and family members, burn their homes and villages, beat fellow soldiers and escapees to death, and raped. Northern Uganda was a horrific place for nearly two decades. Every person was affected, and every aspect of society was altered.

    Fortunately there has not been an attack by the LRA in Uganda in five years, even though they still operate in the neighboring DRC (Democratic Republic of the Congo). Before the war waged by the LRA, Ugandan history includes the violent dictatorship of Idi Amin (portrayed in the movie The Last King of Scotland), five years of civil war in the early 1980s, and a successful coup of the government by the National Resistance Army (NRA) in 1986. In short, the almost fifty-year history of Uganda since independence from Britain has been brutal, bloody, and violent.

    You will never find Pader in Lonely Planet or any other tourist guidebook. Just to get here takes a day from the capital of Kampala with the last 100 km a one-lane dirt track. The society that once existed many decades ago has been shattered and they are attempting to re-construct a new one in its place. So what was I doing there? Well, sometimes to see the most progress and feel the most hope in the world you need to go to the place that has the most to gain.

    Before getting into the work that Coaches Across Continents is doing with Friends of

    One of the amazing female young leaders

    Orphans (FRO) I need to try to describe Pader to you. I say try, because unless you have actually visited rural Africa, a war-torn area, or a United Nations emergency relief zone you will only be able to grasp an idea of the level of poverty that exists and the amount of recovery that is needed here. Even by African standards, Pader is an extremely poor village that relies almost exclusively on agriculture. It has high unemployment, inflation, and poor infrastructure with limited electricity and occasional running water in the nicest buildings. For the past five years it was a United Nations Emergency Zone filled with NGOs and aid programs like War Child, UNICEF, World Food Bank, and countless others. However all but five NGOs have pulled out as recovery in Pader is ongoing as opposed to being an immediate humanitarian emergency. The feeling of international intervention is always in the periphery, and the legacy of the NGOs and United Nation efforts are apparent in the signs, large tents, and deserted buildings surrounded by barbed wire that are on the outskirts of town.

    Rural life in Pader

    For now Pader is a town at rest. Its people have had their fill of violence and are quietly living their lives one day at a time, not dwelling on the past. There does not seem to be any animosity or hatred in the Acholi people which makes you wonder how such a brutal war existed among its people for so long. There does not seem to be judgment or reservations about what the future might bring, just acceptance. For now they are slowly recovering and rebuilding their society one day at a time through programs like Friends of Orphans (FRO) and enjoying the peace which that have only known recently.

    I was in Pader working with Coaches Across Continents Hat-Trick partner Friends of Orphans (FRO). FRO was started and is run by former child soldier Ricky Anwar. In fact, many of their teachers and staff are former child soldiers themselves. FRO was founded in 1999 at the height of the war in order to address the huge numbers of unemployed youth, mistrust issues against former child soldiers, reintegration problems, and rehabilitation issues as people deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. FROs mission is to rehabilitate, educate, and reintegrate. They do this through education, counseling, and sport.

    What FRO has built in five years to address these issues is the most impressive and uplifting story I have seen in Africa. FRO support 1,200 needy primary students in 56 different schools, but more impressively they run a FRO school which is a combination of education, counseling, and sports programs for two hundred students annually. These two hundred students aged 16-25 are put forward by their communities as being vulnerable youth. These include former child soldiers (70%), orphans, female victims of war, land mine survivors, and victims of HIV/AIDS. After home interviews and community reference checks these youths are admitted. During their year at FRO, these students undergo counseling as well as learn a vocation that they have an interest in such as welding, computers, carpentry, catering, tailoring, bricklaying, and others.

    So many smiles during our work in Pader

    Coaches Across Continents is now in our second year we are working with all the students at FRO to train them as soccer coaches for social development. As Ricky says, “sport is part of our medicine, it is part of our therapy.” Already they have embraced our program and together we have gone out to work with local primary schools. We had a two-hour session every morning to teach them various CAC games and the important social messages that each game teaches. Even though every session is filled with laughter from start to finish there is a sobering thought that has occurred to each of us Western Coaches: each FRO student that we are coaching has some horrific event in their past, and as a group they are most certainly responsible for hundreds of deaths. However it does not appear that they would be capable of such things because of the joy and laughter that they life their life with each day and from our interactions and friendships with them. Maybe that is the best indication that the work by FRO is succeeding beyond all expectations.

    In the afternoons we went to local primary schools to work with younger students. This is

    Judith surrounded by young children

    a great opportunity for the newly trained FRO soccer coach/students to get hands-on experience under our guidance. Already you can see the talents and enthusiasm these coaches have for the game and teaching the younger generation. This added responsibility and engendering leaders is the long-term goal of both FRO and CAC and we have every belief that this program will be sustainable for many years to come. In just a short time that the FRO students will become coaches and leaders throughout the community without our assistance and be able to pass along life lessons regarding non-violent conflict resolution, health & wellness including HIV/AIDS, and female empowerment.

    As I mentioned, sometimes to see the most good in the world you have to be someplace that has the most to gain. For those of you who have expressed an interest in supporting CAC I ask that you please do so today. Places like Pader are the reason that I decided to work with Coaches Across Continents. You can only take my word for it that it is programs like this that are bringing the most joy, the most hope, and the most improvement to the people globally who need it most.

    Please CLICK HERE to donate. Thank you.

  • The Eyes Have It

    The orange-red sun was setting behind the tall July corn when I arrived after eighteen hours of flight, followed by eight more of bumpy, overland travel. I’d brushed up on my Ugandan history and current events in the lead up to this trip back in Los Angeles. It would be disingenuous to say that I was still not prepared for the level of penury I’d encounter in Pader, Uganda. Pader 1Indeed, I’d fully expected the half naked, filthy little children; the intermittent availability of power and water; the constant saturation of sweat and 30% deet, caked in red dirt; the choice of three items, the same three items, at all three meal times, for days on end; even the sense of western guilt that would overwhelm me each time I saw a woman walking a kilometer, back to her hut, with five gallons of water balanced on her head after I had just finished complaining about my food selection. I’d expected all of this. I’ve been to places like this before.

    What I’d not expected on this trip to the war torn region of Northern Uganda, came through the anonymity of observation afforded mPader 2e for my role with Coaches Across Continents. Several months back, Nick had put the touch on me to shoot and edit an updated video for CAC. Intrigued by the notion of his partnering with a local organization that was working on reintegrating the former child soldiers and child “brides” of the Lord’s Resistance Army, I quickly accepted. When I was last in Uganda eight years ago, the horror still raged in the out-of-bounds north.

    The Lord’s RePader 3sistance Army (LRA), simply put for those who do not recall, was a marauding rebel force in the north of Uganda that raided villages and abducted children, coercing them to murder and/or serve as sex slaves for the militia. Among other atrocities, these children were often put in the impossible situation of having to kill their own families or face certain death. Distraught parents, desiring any chance of life for their young ones, would tearfully plead with their own children to comply with the macabre orders of the night raiders. So, in a moment, a young person would be saddled with the recurring nightmare of, say, chopping off the heads of his parents, with a machete, at an age when most western children are on a track to be haunted by matters far less weighty.

    Friends of Orphans (FRO) runs a local trade school program designed to reintegrate these shattered lives, robbed of everything, installing them back into the local communities. They’ve asked Coaches Across Continents to be involved in the “Sport for Development” part of their curriculum.

    Everyday now, through the lens of my video and still cameras, I see the joy and laughter that has re-entered these now young adult lives. While our western coaches instruct the students from FRO on how to become Soccer for Life Skills coaches, I wander amidst the activity, freely glimpsing into the souls of these people – these Pader 4children. If that sounds too dramatic, be aware that to smile and laugh – to reach out at all – were efforts that one might have assumed these young people would never again have attempted. Inspired by the work of the dedicated volunteers of CAC, I look through a 200-millimeter zoom lens and see new found hope for Pader’s future. So candid is my view, for not being the direct focus of the students, that I am often rapt, intimately exposed to the unfettered jubilation in their eyes.

    Kevin is filming the new Coaches Across Continents documentary in Pader, Uganda.  the new video will be ready in October 2011.

  • Goal 2: Pader, Uganda. Reintegrating former child soldiers through soccer.

    February 24th, 2011.

    Dates have been confirmed with our partner in Northern Uganda to run the 2nd year of our Hat-Trick Initiative with FRO, a wonderful organization that works with former child soldiers and orphans to reintegrate them into the community.

    In 2010, Coaches across Continents invested 4,480 hours in Pader to work and structure the 3 year program.  Prior to arriving in Pader, Coaches across Continents worked closely with the Harvard FXB center to understand the unique challenges of working with former child soldiers. 

    “The adaptability of the Hat-Trick Initiative was demonstrated in Pader as our coaches worked alongside FRO and the young men and women in their program.  Ivan, Stephen, Sophie, Nick and Deb structured the social development education to encourage the young people to find their voice and to rediscover their joy and laughter.  By the end of the first year, a number of young men and women qualified as Junior Coaches”  Nick Gates, Founder Coaches across Continents.

    The second year of the program has a clear goal of developing Coaches for Life Skills and to have them work in local primary schools to tell their stories to the younger generation in Pader. 

    “We are happy that the partnership is continuing and growing.  The timing of first two weeks of July is good for us so you can send the coaches to come and work with the children. We have both boys and girls.  Anywar Ricky Richard the founder of Friends of Orphans.
    Coaches Brian, Sarah, Nick and Kevin will be part of the 2011 FRO Hat-Trick Initiative in Pader and will build upon the sustainability of this unique partnership and work hard to create a new generation of leaders.