Opening The Door Into Europe
September 14th 2015. We recently started our first ever Hat-Trick Initiative partnership in Europe with The Door in Albania.
Coaches Across Continents is an organization with a long and deep connection to Europe. The founder, Nick Gates, is from the UK. We are a registered non-profit in the UK as well as the US. Over the course of eight years we have had staff and volunteers from across Europe and our current staff are citizens of places such as Belgium, Germany and the UK. We have developed many partnerships with other European organizations such as Peace One Day and streetfootballworld and regularly speak at and attend European conferences like Beyond Sport in London, Peace and Sport in Monaco and Trust Women in London.
Despite this, we have never partnered with another European organization to implement our three year Hat-Trick Initiative. Until this year. We were delighted to accept The Door, from Albania, following their application as part of our Peace Day competition earlier this year.
The Door is an organization based in picturesque Shkoder in Northern Albania. They have an extensive soccer academy including a girls team (one of the few in Albania). They also run a social integration program with local children and facilitate sessions every year to coincide with Peace Day on September 21st. In this part of Europe there are many tightly packed countries. Decades of conflict has forced great crossover between the many nationalities, religions and social groups which co-exist in the region. Organizations such as The Door, which promote integration and inclusion are integral to the ongoing peace in Shkoder, Albania, and the surrounding countries.
We began our first On-Field week with The Door in unusual circumstances. We met the participants for the week at The Door’s eco-social farm which, despite still being in development, was home to many farm animals and a playground where children who are in need of a safe space visit. It was clear from the first day that our participants would not disappoint. They were all keen to learn more about how children can be taught through sport. This led to an impactful week during which these local coaches demonstrated not only their coaching ability but also their willingness to protect the rights of children and to improve their community. We observed passionate opinions on the problems in their community and the importance of sport, music and art in addressing these issues.
The Door will be running a Play for Peace tournament in Shkoder to celebrate Peace Day this year. We made sure to teach a number of CAC’s Peace Day games which can be used to educate children taking part in the tournament about the issues of stereotyping, violence and discrimination. At the end of the week the participants showed great ability and passion as they coached some of the games we had shown them. It was our pleasure to initiate this partnership between CAC, Peace One Day and The Door. Having opened the door to Europe through Shkoder, Albania who knows where we could end up!