• Kicking Into Life

    September 24, 2019. CAC staff member, Jamie Tomkinson, led our second year of Purposeful Play training with local partner, Palestine Sports for Life. He was also joined by Community Impact Coach, Marian Dubois, of the Fútbol Más site in Paris, France. 

    The CAC team have been in Palestine this last week – working in partnership with Palestine Sports for Life and Fútbol Más France, we delivered a world class programme for over 20 coaches, community leaders, government ministers and teachers from the United Nations. Taking into account the issues that affect the citizens of the West Bank, we decided to use our #PurposefulPlay curriculum to deliver a workshop that addressed UNSDG #3 ‘Health and Wellness’ and UNSDG #5 ‘Gender Equality’.

    Specifically, we wanted to focus on Mental Health. Many residents of Palestine have difficulty with anxiety, conflict resolution and depression due to many factors. We played some games from our upcoming and new Mental Health Curriculum, where our discussions focused on 1) how our actions and words can affect those around us and 2) what we can do as friends, family and leaders to support not only children, but also other members of our community who are suffering in silence. The simple act of listening, for example, was mentioned many times and the importance of being approachable and simply being present, can make a massive difference.

    A highlight for me was going to visit one of the participant’s local Kick-Boxing class for girls and young women. We were only supposed to be there for 45 minutes, but I found myself still there 2 and a half hours later laughing and learning – I got my own taste of #EducationOutsideTheClassroom, as these brilliant young women and girls taught me what life was like for them, how they’ve built up a commendable resilience, and with their Kick-Boxing skills, if they wanted to beat me up they’d have no problem!

  • Cultural Differences, Cultural Development

    April 18th, 2018. Community Impact Coach, Lorik from GOALS Armenia, writes and reflects on her experience working with ANERA in Lebanon. 

    As a Community Impact Coach, I joined Jordan from CAC in Lebanon. On the third week of training, we moved from the seashore to the mountainous region of Zahle. The taxi driver who took us to the region was very kind and stopped every now and then to allow us to take some photos of the beautiful view. Later on, we arrived in Zahle; we were staying in the area of Maronite Christians, which was surrounded by statues of St. Charbel and Maryam. We descended towards the lower part of the mountain to Saadnayel, which is the beginning of the Muslim region – and where we were holding our training.

    The participants of the training were of different nationalities, including Palestinians and Syrians. They had different backgrounds, cultures, religions and beliefs. Seeing past each others differences is one of the most important factors in life skills through sport for social impact games. There were challenges in implementing the games because of cultural difference and the interaction of both genders; the problem was solved by using alternative methods – ex. tagging or holding hands through use of the bibs.

    During the first day, men were playing very rigorously during the games, which made women want to sit at the back and not show any willingness to participate. By bringing this issue up during discussions and asking for solutions, they agreed on equal participation. During one of the coach back sessions, the participants had set a rule where only the women could score a goal. This demonstrated good progression of the group.

    One of the participants who motivated me was a lady called Mirna, who was born with a disability because of the relative marriage of her parents. She is a Ph.D. student who is studying NLP. She is Palestinian and living as part of a minority group in Lebanon. Observing different kinds of discrimination, she spent most of her childhood in hospitals and at home. She overcame her isolation with the help of her psychologist by setting life goals. She is a life skills instructor, a psychologist, and a role model for many of her students.

    Obtaining experience in coaching different groups of cultures and religions allowed me to better understand their mentality, and it facilitated the sharing of ideas and knowledge. It was inspiring to see and meet different people who thrive to provide equal opportunity for their students and provide a safe space for them to express their opinions.

  • CAC Hits Israel

    December 10, 2013.  Nick Gates and Graham Bradford arrived in Israel on 17th of November, mentally and physically refreshed after a full 24 hours on the road travelling from Nagpur, India after a wonderfully successful and enjoyable programme with Slum Soccer.  Perhaps ‘fully refreshed’ may be a slight exaggeration on reflection.  The trip included three flights, the world’s shortest hotel stay (for respectable reasons) with the chaps checking into the hotel in Mumbai at around 2.30 am and taking the early morning alarm call at 4.00 am.  Only just enough time for an evening meal, 14 minutes in bed and a full Indian breakfast.

    israel1Destination Tel Aviv was achieved eventually and in zombie-like condition we were met by the delightful Keren Levi, international Development Manager at Mifalot, our partner organisation for the 5 days ahead.  Mifalot is a Beyond Sport Winner and Street Football World member.  Keren had the dubious pleasure of being our driver, guide, bodyguard, interpreter, historian, X-factor correspondent and theological punching-bag for our time in Israel. She was exceptionally welcoming, helpful, patient, and skilled in most of these roles.  We wish her lots of luck in her driving test – which she should be ready for sometime next summer.

    The setting for our stay on Tel Aviv beachfront was in some contrast to our Indian experience, but it was noted that there was a disappointing absence of sacred cows and tuk-tuks in the street.  We just about coped though.

    israel2The purpose of the week was a departure from a typical program, with Mifalot senior manager Clive Lessem seeking to learn from Nick how Coaches Across Continents’ coaching, business and logistics model operates so successfully around the globe, as Mifalot looks to spread their work beyond Israel.  Mifalot is a well-established secular social development organization, affiliated and funded by Hapoel Tel Aviv FC.  It works across a wide spectrum of communities in Israel, using sport for social development across ethnic, economic, gender, special needs and of course religious divides – of which Israel has a few.

    Mifalot works across Israel and Nick and Graham led or observed sessions with a number Mifalot’s regional teams of full-time and volunteer coaches across the country.  A well-developed national programme of volunteers known as ‘civil service’ provides a healthy supply of coaches to support the core team of full-time staff and Nick and Graham took lively sessions in the north, south and west of Israel, including a highly significant session in the West Bank.  In our nation-wide tour of duty we ran coaching sessions for mixed groups of Jewish, Bedouin, Cicassia and Christian coaches in.

    israel3It was clear that the West Bank session was going to be special.  To Nick and Graham there was a significant level of concern that this might be our last ever coaching session together, whilst there was a certain air of excitement and anticipation within Mifalot’s team of full-time staff and coaches who had worked hard to facilitate it.  The setting was to the west of Jerusalem, the playing field – perhaps surprisingly – was exceptional (and the call to prayer from the minaret immediately adjacent to the field particularly deafening) and the participants a mix of volunteer coaches from the Arabic, Jewish and Bedouin communities, including women – which in the context of the West Bank was a highly significant.  From our point of view the session was not particularly exceptional… it was great fun, there was lots of laughing, noise, enthusiasm and healthy debate – the usual Coaches Across Continents fare.  However, for our hosts the coming together of men and women from these communities was hugely significant, and congratulations should go to Seigi and his local coaching team for all the work it must have taken to bring these together on the field, in learning, laughing and friendship.

    bhe2Historic as the program may have been, there were other highlights which Nick and Graham will take with them from Israel.  These include the food, the food and the food.  Wow.  Quantity and quality is perhaps a rare combination on a Coaches Across Continents Program, but was surely the case here.  Of particular note was the restaurateur in Um El-Fahem who produced a fantastic array of around ten dishes of various salads, humus and flatbreads before four of us, which Nick and Graham hadn’t realized were merely starters, before bringing to the table superb Arabic meat dishes.  We couldn’t praise his food enough, but he was devastated we couldn’t eat it all!  But we knew we were in the land of milk and honey when at breakfast our hotel included the option of trifle, tuna salad and porridge….. Well it would have been rude not to!

    Thanks again to Clive, Keren and their great team of coaches for exceptional hospitality and the opening up of a great future working relationship with CAC.

    20131119_194023