• 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.

    To support or learn more about this initiative, please contact CAC Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz at

  • And so it begins…

    September 19th, 2018. Global Citizen Jesse DiLuzio writes about his first country on-field with Coaches Across Continents with Community Partner Reclaim Childhood in Jordan.

    My work with CAC began in Amman, Jordan where I was fortunate enough to work with coaches from a diverse group of countries that included Jordan, Somalia, Palestine, Lebanon and Syria! As part of this process, CAC partnered with a local non-profit called Reclaim Childhood, an organization that works to empower refugee and at-risk women and girls in Jordan through sport and play. This partnership proved to be a fruitful one, and myself, Markus (full-time CAC Coach), and Rose (Community Impact Coach from Lebanon) were very fortunate to work with an incredible group of motivated coaches.

    Over the course of the week, we discussed a number of issues with a focus on rights for refugees and women in society. During these discussions, it became increasingly clear that many of the coaches in front of us were already great leaders in their communities. Haneen Khateeb, a female coach from Amman is one of these examples. Just last year, Haneen broke a world record through her participation in the highest-elevation soccer match ever played. At the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, Haneen along with 29 other players representing 22 different countries played the 90 minute match 5,985 meters above sea level. As extraordinary as this feat was both physically and mentally, it is even more incredible when you consider the social impact of her actions. While the women’s football scene in Jordan has been much improved under the leadership of HRH Prince Ali, the role of women in sports has been a controversial topic across the region, where in some places, women are banned from participating in sports altogether. Haneen’s efforts served as an inspiration for thousands of women looking to overcome their obstacles and pursue their dreams.

    Other coaches that we trained also told us about the amazing efforts that they have put forth in order to provide a positive environment for other underserved groups. Muhammad (Yasin) and Paul, two friends from Amman, have effectively created a space in their homes for over one hundred refugees to discuss, challenge, and collectively overcome the many obstacles they face coming from corrupt, war-torn states such as Syria. Not to mention the incredible women who work with Reclaim Childhood throughout the year constantly recruiting underprivileged girls across Jordan to learn and play soccer in a space free from social pressure.  

    While I entered the week eager and enthusiastic to provide and teach all of the things I have learned in 18 years as a soccer player/coach, I found myself doing quite the opposite. There’s a saying in Jordan that “whenever you are full, you can still eat forty more tidbits of food”. While I was always too full to test its validity during meals, I think this spirit was certainly embodied by the coaches that we worked with this week. Despite the fact that all of them had already accomplished incredible things in their communities, none of them were full. They always wanted to learn more, and their enthusiasm was unwavering. I became the listener, the learner, the “trainee”, as the coaches took the games/discussions that we led and took them to new heights. It was a humbling experience, one that put a lot of my previous assumptions about coaching into doubt. 

    Off the field, the experience was quite wonderful as well! The locals in Amman are very hospitable and have warm hearts. They will feed you till you can’t move, talk to you until days end, and are always down for a coffee or two. Must haves for me are Shawarma from Saj’s, Falafel from Chammad’s?, Frike, Labaneh, and Mansaf from anywhere. Petra beer is pretty good as well. 

    It was truly an amazing first week with Coaches Across Continents and I look forward to more travels with the organization!

    Until next time,

    Jesse DiLuzio
  • It’s Your Turn

    August 17th, 2018. Global Citizen, Rosa Morales, writes about her experience working with ANERA and their team of Life Skills Trainers throughout Lebanon. 

    “It is the obligation of every person born in a safer room to open the door when someone in danger knocks.”  – Dina Nayeri

    Despite the image that western media attempts to portray, Lebanon is a country filled with diversity, where people, both old and new, coexist happily with their various religions and communities. With approximately seven million people inhabiting the small country, a long history of civil conflict, and the current refugee situation, Lebanon has a diverse history that isn’t quite like any other country. This rich history has even misled Americans into believing that Lebanon is dangerous and that tourists should refrain from traveling outside of Beirut, the capital. However, after traveling throughout the country’s many historical cities and meeting a tremendous variety of incredible people, I beg to differ.

    Working with ANERA (American Near East Refugee Aid), a nonprofit that continues to “help refugees and others hurt by conflicts in the Middle East live with dignity and purpose,” has opened my eyes to the situations that millions of people suffer from every single day. Coming from a privileged family, I have not had to worry about not getting an education, not being able to attain good health care nor clean water, or even be discriminated against in a community and country that you were forced to escape to. However, after spending eight days in this stunning country filled with such bright and beautiful people, I have come to the realization that we, the privileged, have to stop acting like these battles aren’t also battles of our own.

    ANERA, throughout Lebanon, from north to south, east to west, continuously provides safe havens for youth and teachers to go to in order to develop knowledge on their life skills, health and wellness, and overall rehabilitation in a foreign country with the help of Coaches Across Continents. Alongside this, they have connected thousands of Palestinian refugees to reliable sources of water, helped youth return to continue their education, as well as, renovating important structures, buildings, and organizations in their communities.

    Though, the real question is: When will YOU do something?

    People are always talking about wanting to do better for others, to see others achieve great successes, and practicing selflessness. However, they have not taken the initiative to actually do so. If you are in a position of privilege, it is important to realize that you have the ability to change a tremendous amount of people’s lives. In the greater scheme of things, the quote “help your neighbor” becomes incredibly prevalent. Your neighbors, peers, teammates, coworkers may all be undergoing some type of stressful situation that you could potentially help with. If you hear calls for help, whether they are subtle or more obvious, be there for them.

    ANERA and CAC have both contributed to this cause, but when is it going to be your turn?

    After spending a total of three weeks abroad, attempting to use sport for social impact in a variety of communities, I have broadened my knowledge and witnessed those who fight wars much harder than any battle I have had to face in my lifetime. There are people who are surviving off of nothing, when I have been living, thriving with objects that these same people may yearn for but may never see. It is time to give back to those who have faced enough hatred, trauma, and discrimination for the rest of us. Thus, I encourage you to lend out a helping hand for human kind and change the world one day at a time.

  • Creating Traditions of Woman-Power with Refugees in Jordan

    November 13th 2017. Global Citizen, Ian Phillips, joined us on-field to work with our new ASK for Choice partner, Reclaim Childhood, and their coaches from Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, Sudan and Egypt.

    It’s 5am in Amman, Jordan. The first few tentative rays of light are making their way through the night sky. The stillness in the air is broken by the Muslim call to prayer, and the sound echoes across the hilltops, down in to the valleys, and makes its way to my window. The chants are haunting, and beautiful, but did I mention that it’s 5am? The call to prayer rings out from mosque to mosque five times a day and, like the sound that echoes throughout the city, the influence of Islam is pervasive here. It can be heard, seen, and felt in the streets. While this influence manifests itself in many positive ways – such as the kindness, warmth, hospitality and generosity that I witnessed every day, it’s also fair to say that the traditional attitudes many people associate with this part of the world create significant challenges for the women and girls who live here.

    We’re here in Jordan to work with a local NGO called Reclaim Childhood, an organization that uses sport to empower and educate girls. Often, the practices and leagues set up by Reclaim Childhood represent the only opportunity these girls have to leave their house in order to play, exercise, express themselves, and learn important lessons in a safe space. Their all-female staff and coaches are courageous, intelligent, empathetic, compassionate – and inspirational. The highlight of the week was having the opportunity to visit the coaches in action – and seeing a field full of smiling, happy, vibrant young girls. This, more than anything, shows that the efforts of Reclaim Childhood’s brave coaches are worthwhile, and that their programs are having a positive impact.

    The week of training in Amman was an amazing experience. The CAC coaches and myself were able to work with a group of people who are passionate, thoughtful, and genuinely dedicated to creating positive change in their respective communities. I’m grateful for the chance to get On-Field with CAC, and to meet some of the local partners who make this work so worthwhile.

  • Today Is Peace Day!

    September 21st 2016. Today is Peace Day. This UN recognized day, facilitated by Peace One Day, is a day to promote peace and international cooperation through events and activities. One of the key Peace Day initiatives is One Day One Goal. This initiative uses the power of soccer to unite people, strengthen peace-building efforts and educate about social inclusion. Some of the biggest supporters of One Day One Goal include global sporting ambassadors Gary Lineker, Victor Wanyama and Fabrice Muamba. As part of One Day One Goal over the past few years, we provide a Peace Day resource packet to organizations in over 130 countries. This packet helps them play games to teach youth about understanding forms of violence and avoiding stereotypes. To see a recent example of the reconciliatory nature of the CAC curriculum and sport check out this recent blog from Indonesia which united two conflicting communities. This topic is especially important in the current global climate of ethnic divisiveness often stoked by fear and paranoia. No matter your medium, promoting peace and social inclusion for Peace Day will send an important message of unity.

    Today and over the next week organizations will be running events and activities using sport to promote peace. For example, our partners in DRC Malaika, ran sports sessions, dance events and theater at their community center. Training4ChangeS our partner in South Africa ran problem solving games on Peace Day with key community leaders. In Uganda, Soccer Without Borders Uganda had their children, many of whom are refugees; sing songs; play sport; and make crafts. Naz Goal in India ran events to promote peace between their young people. This is just a small sample of the Peace Day activities- there will be many more over the next few days. If you are running Peace Day 2016 events please send the pictures and stories to and we will promote your inspirational work.

    Who will you make peace with this Peace Day?

  • Albania: Land of the Free, Home of the Beautiful

    September 20th 2016. Nora Dooley writes about our second year On-Field with The Door Albania.

    I once read that “freedom” and “civilization” can cultivate a reality where the desire for foolproof living destroys spontaneity – and, perhaps, freedom itself.

    What does that mean?

    I’m in Shkodër, Albania. I’ve just had this magnetic week learning and sharing with a group of mostly young Albanian leaders with a few oldies but goodies sprinkled in. It’s my last night and they want to show me some of the places they like to visit around town. We park, walk up a hill and through a gate that had the appearance of being locked – perhaps to keep out the riff-raff – but my Albanian companions assured me (and my US safety training) all was well. We reach our destination.

    I’m walking through an old mansion that would never lawfully exist in the States unless it was a construction site. It could have been a victim of an earthquake with more rubble-crunching steps than not. But it’s obvious this was once a home for royalty – most obvious when you look beyond the bruised walls over the inferior heights of “inferior” homes across Lake Skadar. I, with my dark soul, find beauty in the destruction of this once royal palace – historically, ironically, sure. But really because one cannot find something so honestly ruined in most “liberated” communities unless it’s been dubbed a – capital R – Ruin. And of course it is then swiftly “protected” by rules (we must keep out the riff-raff).

    One of the main societal issues expressed to me by these participants in Shkodër is the lack of opportunities to “succeed” in the current national reality. Many citizens pursue work and higher education outside the country lines. I – the weird foreigner – look around at the beauty, listen to the ideas of this passionate group, and have difficulty understanding.

    It seems there is infinite opportunity if only the ‘powers that be’ valued different tasks (expand to: everywhere).

    But if this society valued the task of “cleaning” the rubble palace – would it lose its dark, imagination-capturing beauty? Would it attempt to safeguard it against all risk yielding yet another example of spontaneity’s death?

    Wherever these questions lead – in this moment, at this eerily beautiful structure, after this inspiring week with our Albanian partner that seeks to tap the well of potential in the country’s youth, I felt free. Whatever that means.

    dsc_7328