• CAC Delivers Purposeful Play in Paris Refugee Centers during the Women’s World Cup

    July 11, 2019. CAC’s Nora Dooley writes from Lyon, France where she watched USA vs. England in the World Cup semifinals after finishing On-Field trainings for CAC partners in Paris.

    Six years of working with Coaches Across Continents and our incredible partners have given me the most unimaginable (at least to my adolescent brain!) education in empathy. From mid-May to mid-June I traveled from Brazil to México to Colombia to the USA to Tanzania and landed in France just in time for the most important football event in the world.

    I list these travels not to boast my privilege nor shame my environmental footprint, but rather to share facts about the access that I have to the world because of the circumstances of my birth. Access granted to some people, denied to more people, and likely never even to be pursued by most people.

    Then I think about the humans I shared space with in Paris for 8 days of Purposeful Play trainings with CAC partners who serve refugee and displaced communities across the city. Long-time partner, Fútbol Más France, and new partner, Kabubu, run different types of programs for refugees and migrants from dozens of countries including Yemen, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Congo, Romania, Angola, Eritrea, Senegal, Mali, Sudan, Tibet, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Syria and others who are living in mostly short-term refugee centers in the south of the city. Fútbol Más runs weekly sports sessions for girls and boys of all ages as well as separate sessions for adult women and men. Their unique challenges include communication across language barriers, gender inequalities arriving from different cultures, and building an adaptable set of activities that can be used in different contexts and especially as participants come and go from the short-term establishments. CAC supports Fútbol Más and now Kabubu to integrate Purposeful Play methodology into their sessions to address these challenges and more intentionally educate and empower using play-based activities.

    Through this work in Paris – and generally with CAC – I have shared and played with humans with stories I will never be able to fully understand, histories that bounced them across borders and oceans in search of safe, welcoming homes. I think about them as I bounce around this world searching for something else, while finding a humbling fulfillment in knowing that people from perhaps the most challenging, conflict-ridden circumstances find joy, safety and identity through CAC games.

  • All-Star team impacts Bangladeshi and Rohingya

    This past month CAC headlined phase two of our Bangladesh initiative as the Official Social Responsibility Partner of the Asian Football Confederation.  Along with professional coaches from the English FA, Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz delivered coaching education and Football Fun Festivals in three locations in Bangladesh, including the Kutapalong Rohingya Refugee camp, home to nearly 1,000,000 individuals including 500,000 children.

    “We are using football to ensure and protect the rights of some of the most vulnerable individuals, children in refugee camps and underserved Bangladeshi children throughout the country.” – Brian Suskiewicz, CAC CEO

    This initiative provides grassroots coaching expertise to both Bangladeshi and Rohingya coaches, aligning with CAC’s new Community Empowerment to Ensure Human Rights Guiding Principles, which were released on World Refugee Day.  In addition to the aforementioned refugee camp, training sites included the town of Cox’s Bazar and the Bangladesh Football Federation House in the capital, Dhaka.

    Along with Alena Moulton, Kevin Coleman, Taff Rahman, and Anwar Uddin, the CAC/English FA team educated 174 coaches who will impact 21,390 children, while also hosting three Football Fun Festivals around the country.  This is the second phase, concluding the first year of the initiative. Further plans will continue the partnership well into 2020.  Other partners include the Jaago Foundation and the UNHCR in Bangladesh.  Of special note, the Jaago Foundation had 50+% female participation during this initiative, which was the first time over 90% of them had played football!

    For further information, please read the project overview from December, 2018 or contact CAC at .

  • CAC Publishes “Community Empowerment to Ensure Human Rights Guiding Principles”

    June 20, 2019.  On World Refugee Day, Coaches Across Continents is releasing our Community Empowerment to  Ensure Human Rights Guiding Principles.  CAC’s decade of experience in using Purposeful Play to empower communities to recognize, protect, and ensure all human rights is now bolstered by these guiding principles which will help our partnerships in more than 60 countries.

    CAC Community Empowerment to Ensure Human Rights- Guiding Principles

    “Community Empowerment is the idea that a community best understands the individuals within that community, and that the best people to take care of one another are each other.” – Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz

    CAC uses Purposeful Play and Education Outside the Classroom in 60+ countries to Empower Communities to Recognize and Ensure Human Rights.

    Developed from our decade of experience in communities around the world, as well as strategic partnerships with the UNHCR and UNICEF, these Guiding Principles for Community Empowerment to Ensure Human Rights provide the opportunity for all organizations to learn best practices in both emergency and non-emergency situations.

    To help explain the importance of these guidelines, Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz presented on our Virtual Learning podcast this month.  Click here to listen.

     

    For more information on these guidelines, please contact us at

    World Refugee Day is June 20th.  A special thanks to these CAC partners who work with refugees and internally displaced persons every day:

    • Asian Football Confederation / BFF / UNHCR benefitting Rohingya Refugees, Bangladesh
    • ANERA, Lebanon
    • Fútbol Más, France
    • Fútbol Más, México
    • Girl Determined, Myanmar
    • Kabubu, France
    • Kicken Ohne Grenzen, Austria
    • Palestine Sports for Life, Palestine
    • Reclaim Childhood, Jordan
    • Soccer Without Borders, Uganda and United States
  • 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.