The Hippocratic Oath & Soccer
CAC SDL Coach Turner Humphries writes about our week with Futebol Social in Sao Roque, Brazil.
April 19th 2016. From Rio de Janeiro our team made the journey to Sao Roque, a small town outside of Sao Paulo. In Sao Roque we had around forty participants, all with varied backgrounds and coaching experience. In the group were students, teachers, jiu jitsu coaches, volleyball players, skateboarders and CrossFit enthusiasts. Having such a diverse group allows for many different views on the social messages our games address. Furthermore, it challenges both the CAC team and the participants to think of ways to adapt our games to best suit their discipline.
For this week of training we would be joined by Davi Alexander, a Community Impact Coach from ACER Brasil, a different organization in Sao Paulo. Davi met us for breakfast each morning as we discussed how to best impact the participants and which games we had planned for that day. Over coffee and bananas, we worked with Davi to find games for him to coach that would serve to aid in his development. Davi was able to coach a wide variety of games, including activities that addressed gender equity, conflict prevention and drug and alcohol abuse.
At every CAC training we discuss our child protection policy with the participants. For this week we decided to add in another component to our discussion. With the participants in small groups we gave them three different scenarios. Each scenario required the participants to resolve a complex issue where the rights of the child were not being protected. For example, one of the scenarios was as follows: you are an assistant coach and you witness the head coach verbally abusing a number of the players and embarrassing them in front of the whole team – what do you do? Among the responses were, ‘speak privately with the head coach about his/her behavior,’ ‘speak with a senior club or school official to ensure action is taken regarding the coach,’ ‘give encouraging words to the players to try and improve their self-esteem.’ One thing all these responses have in common is being proactive. It was encouraging to hear so much feedback from the participants and see them working together to discuss child rights issues. An issue a number of the participants raised during the week was the intense focus on winning at the youth level. We heard that because of this results based approach many children were dropping out of their sports teams. ‘Above all else sport should be fun,’ one participant proclaimed. Speaking privately with another participant, he told me that coaches should be required to sign a document similar to the Hippocratic Oath – a document that all those in the medical profession must adhere to. The main tenet of the Hippocratic Oath is that first, do no harm. Now with a fresh cadre of games, I hope that the coaches, jiu jitsu teachers and CrossFitters can bring some of the fun back into sports in Sao Roque.
In Her Words
March 28th 2016. CAC sits down with Venezuelan training participant Keila Molina to learn more about her life and her experience with CAC in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Q: How did you get involved in football?
A: It’s really a lucky story. When I was young I only played volleyball. My older sister was very athletic and I looked up to her very much. Naturally, I just wanted to do whatever she was doing, so I played volleyball. In Venezuela, women’s football is not very popular or glamorous or commercial. I could play but it was kind of shamed. My father was a football player, so I played at home with him but that was it. But at one point I broke my hand so I couldn’t play volleyball for a long time. While I was injured, I would go running to stay fit, and I would run by a football field. One day there was a team of girls playing football on the field and the coach came up to me after my run and asked me if I wanted to play for the team. After about six weeks I was on the team and loved it. I had grown up hearing that football was only for boys, but all the sudden I was playing for my state team, my pre-national team, university team and from 2008-2015 I played professionally for Carabobo FC.
Q: As a Venezuelan woman living in Brazil, how does the experience that girls and women in Brazil have differ from their experience in Venezuela?
A: In Brazil it seems to me like it is all about creating fame for the boys as professionals. I think in Venezuela there are less resources but more support currently for everyone to play. Brazil has spaces to play in many places but I almost never see any girls or women out playing.
In Venezuela, fields and courts are private and it costs a lot to buy time to play. It takes a big effort to get field time, and in the cities sometimes it isn’t safe to be out playing.
[In Rio] it feels like female players are completely ignored and I don’t see any intention to plan for a structure to help girls play. And also, girls don’t ask to play or be involved because they are taught to keep quiet.
When I arrived in Rio I was surprised by how much space there was to play and also by not seeing any girls playing on so many fields.
There’s no structure for girls’ team sports in school in Venezuela right now, but there is some change happening there. In 1995 the Venezuelan Men’s Football Team got their first FIFA ranking so being a fan became more popular and women playing was less of a problem. Since then progress has stopped, started and at times gone backward. The work for equality in sport hasn’t been sustained for female players. Last year there was more funding toward female teams, so I hope the progress will finally continue.
For me, we have a responsibility to help improve the situation for the next generation of girls. We need to make school and club sport structure better and more available to girls who want to play. We have to be completely dedicated to fix this problem because it is so difficult.
Q: So what brought you to the CAC training this week?
A: I heard through Facebook about the training and I didn’t want to miss this opportunity. I was grabbed by the idea of using sport to educate and the reasons behind trying to unite the ideas.
Q: What did you enjoy most about the training?
A: I loved the exchange of information between people from very different backgrounds. We all live in different places and have different difficulties. Discussing such intense problems allowed us to know each other’s positions on things. I thought the conversation dynamic created a diplomatic atmosphere with respect and understanding. After one day I felt like I knew these people very well. I think football is the best tool for discussing difficult topics in my opinion.
The effort to communicate within the group was great and the approach that [CAC] brought was simple and there was always a well defined subject.
Q: What were your biggest takeaways from this week?
A: The child rights talk was very effective to me. The right to live your life, to be defended, to be able to go to school, to a family, those things are very important to me. For me there is always a way to find a solution to a problem, and it is the same with the problem of child abuse. The talk that we had made me hopeful about finding a solution for [child abuse].
Q: How will you act on what you learned in the training now that it is over?
A: The most important thing for me to do is to act out what I learned, and just be an example. I don’t have a group to go back and work with, but I do have a community. I will practice correcting without offending, trying to stimulate thought and stress how important education is. All it takes is one word to change someone’s day, or even life. Even a simple ‘good morning,’ something so simple, can have an impact. Anyone can have that effect.
A Different Side of Brazil
CAC volunteer Ariana Ruela talks about her return to Brazil with CAC one year after the World Cup
June 27th 2015. It was only a year ago that I arrived in Brazil for the first time, on my own, to watch the biggest tournament of futebol in the world—the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Speaking Portuguese (half of my family are from and still reside in Portugal), I quickly found my way around exploring three different cities, attending Portugal’s group matches, making new friends, and spending my afternoons finding peladas, Portuguese for small sided soccer games, that I could join in on. One thing was for sure: futebol in Brazil is a way of life. They live it, breathe it, eat and sleep thinking and dreaming about it.
However, during that time, what I didn’t get to see was the reality of everyday life here in Brazil. A little over 6 months after my adventure for the World Cup, I received the opportunity to return to Brazil with the awesome organization, Coaches Across Continents (CAC), where the power of futebol is used for social impact. This wasn’t just any opportunity for me. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to do something I have dreamed about. You might wonder why? A huge futebol player and lover of the game, I currently just finished my Masters in Global Affairs. Additionally, I have been coaching since I was 14 for various clubs in NJ, VA, as well as for NY Red Bulls Training Programs. As you can imagine, futebol is a way of life for me as well. What better way to fuse my studies in human rights and development with my passion and knowledge for the game of futebol?? And on top of that to do it in the beautiful Brazil where futebol is exactly that—the way of life.
Since arriving in Brazil, it has been amazing to work with the coaches, educators, and mentors here in this country. My first week in Rio de Janeiro was very insightful and inspiring as Niki talked about in her blog last week. One minute it was Monday and before you knew it, Saturday had already arrived and it was time to leave the beautiful beaches and people we had met and worked with in Rio to head to our next city. A 7 hour bus ride later, we arrived in Sao Paulo where we would stay for two weeks. Instantaneously, I discovered Sao Paulo was very different from Rio. With beaches an hour away unlike Rio, my first impression of Sao Paulo was bigness and city-like, sky rises and smog.
I quickly learned that Sao Paulo is a city where you get all four seasons in one day. When we wake up it is sunny and warm, by the time the afternoon rolls in it is cloudy and drizzling, and by night time you are shivering wondering why the heck you didn’t bring pants to Brazil. With that said, before you knew it, it was Monday again and time to meet a new group of coaches, educators and mentors that we would work with for the first week in Sao Paulo along with Futebol Social. These new participants brought a lot of energy to the sessions, were eager to learn, and quickly grasped what CAC is all about. Sessions were fun, insightful, and informing. It wasn’t long before we started learning about the problems and issues the coaches and mentors try and tackle day in and day out in their work.
What made this week special was the chance to work with kids. The participants were able to see first-hand how kids responded to the activities. Smiles were big. Laughter could be heard all around. And when it came time to chat, kids were clever and witty. Participants were also then able to try and run an activity themselves with the kids. It was wonderful to see the amount of learning occurring on the futebol pitch. What was even more exciting were the mornings when participants would arrive eager to tell us they had tried the activities with their kids and has a lot of success showing us pictures and videos. The week hadn’t even ended yet and the work CAC is doing was already having an impact.
One particular day stood out to me, being a coach myself and someone highly interested in the use of futebol for social impact. A huge discussion between coaches who are training kids in futebol clubs and mentors/educators who are working with children in social projects had erupted. The coaches wondered how they could use such activities when the parents are looking for them to teach their kid the game and develop them into the “next Neymar.” A valid point, but the others in the group didn’t see eye to eye which created some great discussion. In the end, whether it be working with kids in a top futebol club or working with kids in a social project or at school, we are responsible for guiding them as they are the future generation. We can teach them how to work in groups, how to be responsible, to be confident, to work hard, to dream big, to understand the importance of education and gender equality, and to not cheat, lie and steal through futebol. At the end of the day, not every child trained in these futebol clubs will be “the next Neymar,” but they will be the next generation of adults and it is important as coaches, educators, and mentors we guide them in the right direction regardless if we are working with them as a futebol coach or as a mentor in a social program.
This week was really inspiring to me. It showed that the participants were really taking in all that we were giving them. They understood that the game their country is so passionate about can be one of the many solutions to help ease the problems they face in their communities. Only two weeks in and I could already see the difference CAC was making in the lives of these leaders. Not only did participants now understand what sport for social impact is, but they also started to apply it immediately. At the end of the day, that little ball in this big country represents life. A futebol something so small, yet so big in the hearts of Brazilians can be used to create change and improve communities one small step at a time.
To Sao Paulo and Futebol Social, obrigado!!
Beauty Inside And Out
CAC volunteer Niki Herdegen talks about her week in Rio de Janeiro with Futebol Social.
June 22nd 2015. We began our second week in Brazil by transitioning from the quiet city of Brasilia to the city that never sleeps, Rio de Janeiro. Adjusting to city life was difficult at first, but the people proved to be extremely welcoming, helpful, and kind. The breathtaking views of Copacabana beach provided an easy escape from the buzzing of the city, giving us truly the best of both worlds during our stay in Rio.
For our sessions during the week we once again partnered with Futebol Social. We had a huge turn out with the program the week before in Brasilia, so I had come in with huge expectations. To my surprise our group was quite small with no more than 15 participants per day ranging in all different ages and backgrounds. The group was small but mighty, and the intimacy of small numbers allowed us to discuss in depth the social problems in Rio. Our conversations got individuals excited and sometimes even heated, but it was incredible to see that all these discussions can be lead through our curriculum with Coaches Across Continents. It became evident that drugs, alcohol, child rights, gender equity and violence were all ugly problems in the beautiful city. We specifically selected games that highlighted these problems to help educate the local leaders and pass down to their children they train. The games put smiles across everyone’s faces and it was hilarious how much fun grown adults were having playing games designed for children. However, the serious undertones at the end of each game showed the coaches that the social message is key to solving the problems we discussed before.
During my week coaching in Rio, the hardest part for me was hearing about the lack of equal opportunities for girls both on and off the field. It made me realize how much I take for granted and how easy it is for me to go out and simply play the sport I love. Women are expected to stay home and take care of housework, not participate in activities like the other men and boys. Our female members payed an important role in not only sharing their inspiring stories but also inspiring other male members to take a stand against the problem. The problem is diminishing slowly, but I know if these coaches pass down the games we teach to their children we can create a generation that lives without discrimination.
Our 2nd year curriculum in Rio came to an end and I couldn’t be more thankful to have met our participants. All of them have a passion for soccer and more importantly the social programs they are involved in. If they can continue to pass down the messages to the children they coach, the positive impact will create a domino effect of lasting change. Our participants allowed us to share with them their beautiful city, whose heart triumphs the beauty on the outside. I’m looking forward to my next two weeks in Sao Paulo as we continue our journey in Brazil.
Protecting Street Children in Penha (Rio)
May 29th, 2015. Penha is a favela in Rio de Janiero, Brazil, located in the north zone. It is a favela which has tremendous social problems including drug trafficking and seemingly weekly shootings often involving the ever-present police. We are here with Street Child United which dedicates itself to improving the lives of street children and ensuring that they have access to the same rights as all other children. You may also recognize them as the hosts of the Street Child World Cup, their flagship event where they bring teams of street children from dozens of countries together to compete every four years.
However the impact that they have on the street children occurs daily, as they run training sessions with children in Penha. Our award-winning partnership with Chevrolet FC and their #PlayItForward campaign has allowed our two groups to work together for the past two weeks, collaborating as we implement a training plan that highlights specific aspects of our curriculum – most notably Child Rights and Conflict Resolution. It is easy to state that children should have certain rights, such as the right to education, the right to safe sport, and the right to a protected home – but if adults are not fighting to ensure those rights, how could they be ensured?
Our curriculum specifically teaches both coaches and children about the rights afforded them under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Most important is that they are fun, extremely soccer-specific, and create a safe space for children to learn while they are playing (UN Child Right #31). Street Child United will take our curriculum and implement it into their training to ensure that their goal to create a world in which street children are protected, supported and given opportunities to realize their potential is reached.
Also joining the training this week were coaches from Favella Street and PlayLife, and our staff was joined by Camila, a Community Impact Coach from our São Paulo partner ACER. These coaches (all women) and girls who participated in training made this one of the most gender-balanced training sessions CAC have had. These powerful female role models are helping to ensure the rights of young boys and girls in Brazil and through Street Child, around the world.