• PILLARS OF SOCIAL CHANGE

    September  7th 2016. Community Impact Coach Paul Lwanga blogged about working with CAC and FHPU Enterprise in Kigali, Rwanda.

    Coaches Across Continents, in conjunction with Football For Hope and Unity [FHPU], conducted a wonderful training program for community coaches in Kigali. 23 coaches from Kigali turned up for training from the 22nd to the 26th of August 2016. Coach Markus Bensch was in charge of the training. He was assisted by Coach Nico Achimpota, CIC from Tanzania, and Lwanga Paul, a CIC based in Rwanda.

    It was exciting to work as a CIC in a new community and the games implemented increased my understanding and that of all the participants. The social messages covered a wide range of issues namely; Child Rights, Health and Wellness, Gender Equality, Life Skills, Drugs and Alcohol Abuse, Problem-Solving, team-building, Environmental Awareness, and Social Inclusion, while pointing out role models like Neymar and Mia Hamm,

    The training also offered opportunities to all participants to observe other coaches coaching. What inspired me the most was how coach Markus create fun education through play and added more playing time with less talking. He also made the players feel the challenge and social message as they played different games.

    The fun and energy from all the participants was exceptional to me. I am indeed privileged to have worked with all of the coaches in Kigali. They were so innovative and creative especially when they coached CAC games or their own adopted games. The CAC team offered guidance and feedback which will help spread the CAC message across different communities here in Kigali.

    Many community coaches were whispering to me that IT’S TIME FOR CHANGE and all CAC games can offer new energy and will to coach social change through football.

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  • Rwanda: The Country of a 1000 Hills and 1000 Stories

    August 18th 2016. Returning volunteer Earl Strassberger discussed his experience in Rwanda with CAC and Football for Hope, Peace and Unity.

    Rwanda is a beautiful country. I have been to many countries in Africa including living in Liberia for over three years, and Rwanda is different! The roads are good, some potholes, but the roads are otherwise very smooth. The people work hard, as best as I can tell without complaint. The hard work takes many forms.

    On the main road to Rubavu, where we worked our first week, there were women all over sweeping the road. There were even more sweepers in Rubavu itself. Then there was a young man holding a small can of white paint in one hand and a brush in the other. He would bend over paint the white line, about two feet long along the side of the road. Then he would walk a few steps, bend down and paint another line – over and over. At the soccer pitch, a man used a torch to put about 12 holes in fence posts. He was there at 8:00 a.m. when we got there. I came back at 3:30pm to watch a soccer match and he was just finishing. He completed holes in about 25 posts.

    There are not many trucks on the roads. Goods are transported by bicycle. Heavy loads of sugar cane, water, branches, wood, and more are carried on the bikes. When going uphill the rider gets off and pushed.

    Did I mention hills? Rwanda is called the Land of a Thousand Hills. Farming takes place in flat areas and up and down the hills. Terraces are made to have flat land on hills. But many plants are on slopes. The hills are high and often steep. The paths always have people, carrying loads, going up and down. There is little mechanization. There are simply many people on each job, working with hand tools.

    We got back to Kigali, rested a day, and then traveled to Kayonza. Even though Rwanda is a small country, it is different here. The land is mostly flat. It is dustier, a little warmer. It is only a one minute walk to our soccer pitch here. But I miss the beautiful two kilometer walk along Lake Kivu on the way to the pitch in Rubavu.

    What is not different is the enthusiasm of the coaches. They listen and do their best to learn our games. There are always smiles on their faces. Many, of course, are serious players too. Watching their speed, quickness, and teamwork is a joy. A few of the coaches speak English very well, but our Community Impact Coach (CIC), Oscaria and our coordinator Gerard do a fine job of translating. Once I forgot to pause for translation. Everyone was still paying attention to me even though only a few understood. Luckily, Nico, our other CIC, nudged me and pointed the translator.

    Our work is about using football as a tool for social impact. We train the coaches to use our games and messages and encourage them to take our curriculum and use it with their players. Our messages are on conflict prevention, female empowerment, child protection and rights, health and wellness, and many more.

    Tomorrow will include one of my favorite activities. We call it Coach-Back. Coaches will work in groups of three or four. We provide markers and flipchart paper. They get time to plan and sketch out the CAC game that they want to coach to demonstrate and solidify what they have learned so far. We encourage participants to tailor the games to the issues of their district, their country. We know only a few of the challenges they face.

    For example, today I ran a game about what could happen if your players got drunk the night before a match!  One team, the team that partied the night before, had to walk. No surprise, they lost. Afterwards, I asked if there were other similar problems. They came up with smoking. But when I asked about injecting drugs they said no, not a problem in Rwanda.

    By the way, I have been in Rwanda for two weeks now. I came early to go gorilla trekking in Virunga National Volcanic Park. That is another story. I bring it up (it was amazing) because in these two weeks I have only seen two people smoking and one of them was a muzungu (white man). Probably the cost of cigarettes is prohibitive too. The hard working life keeps Rwandans healthy.

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  • The Importance of Social Inclusion – On-Field and Off-Field

    August 17th 2016. CAC Community Impact Coach (CIC) Evariste Habimana wrote about working in Rubavu, Rwanda with Football for Hope, Peace and Unity.

    Rubavu is the nursery for football in Rwanda. I enjoyed working with the coaches from this district. They are professional and are zealous about coaching.

    As I was working with them I learned many things about coaching styles. But most important to me was watching them enthusiastically learn the CAC games.  Before I joined CAC I thought coaching football was to create professional players.  But now I realize that coaching can be a lot more.

    All football teams around the world play games for technique, tactics, and endurance. With CAC we play these same games, but combine them with messages for social impact. These messages are about gender equity, female empowerment, conflict prevention, child rights, HIV prevention and more.

    My favorite game in Rubavu was “Child Rights: Social Inclusion”. Some groups of children are excluded, such as females, disabled, or for religious reasons. Our coaches will begin to change this. Here is how the game is played.

    It is like regular football, there are two teams. The only difference is that players have to stay in their own zone. The pitch is divided into three equal zones. The forwards must stay in the attacking zones, midfielders stay in the middle zone, and defenders stay in the back zone – in front of their goal.

    Not allowed to leave your zone is like being excluded. In football a defender often scores a goal. Midfielders are expected to score goals and defend their goal besides controlling the midfield. Forwards often have to help defend their goal too.

    Just to give coaches the feeling of being excluded compared to being free to play we make a change to the game. One team is allowed to move wherever they want and the other team is restricted to their zones. At the end, we ask, “How does that feel?” The team that was restricted was not very happy and complained that the game was not fair. We knew: they understood the message of the game.

    Just like footballers must be allowed to play the whole pitch, all who want to play football must be allowed to play. It does not matter if they are old or female or disabled. This applies to all activities, not just sports.

    I expect that our CAC trained coaches will use our curriculum in their regular program. And that it will make a positive social impact for their communities.

    Through my time as a CIC in Rubavu I got to meet new coaches and share with them my knowledge and experience. I feel encouraged by the CAC coaches to now even approach and educate coaches in my home community in Nyanza who never participated in CAC training nor use Sport for Social Impact. I now feel confident to create games myself and implement them at the school I teach.

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  • Evaluating Coaches Across Continents’ 2015 Impact So Far

    “The best thing about working with Coaches Across Continents is the unique and special impact of the CAC program.”

    Paul Lwanga, Football for Hope, Peace & Unity participant, Rwanda.

    August 17th 2015. Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) plays an important part in everything we do at Coaches Across Continents: baseline/endline surveys involve every coach, and quantitative and qualitative data is collected at every program. CAC uses its data and statistics to evaluate current practice as well as to inform future developments.

    Comprehensive needs analysis allows CAC to identify the greatest social impact needs and priorities and to design locally relevant programs for partners. Baseline statistics demonstrate the initial attitudes, skills and knowledge of the coaches, including what they know about child protection, their understanding of football for social impact, or their inclination towards gender equality in sport.

    For example, only 15% of participants had ever coached a game of football for social impact before working with CAC in 2015 and only 7% of coaches have had training in how to protect children on the sports field. In many communities, less than a third of local coaches were coaching or planning on coaching girls prior to working with CAC in 2015. In some programs, none of the participants were coaching or planning on coaching girls.

    CAC’s WISER M&E model makes it possible to follow the growth of the organization as well as to identify the successes and impacts programs are having year-round in communities.

    Since the beginning of 2015, 19,376 On-Field coaching education hours have been dedicated to local communities. CAC has worked with 51 implementing partners, 823 community partners, and 2,225 local coaches. In total so far, CAC has reached 180,879 youth in 2015. At this time of year in 2014, CAC had only worked with 42 implementing partners, 685 community members, 1,859 local coaches and had reached 132,375 youth.

    In addition to On-Field coaching education, CAC delivers year-round support to partner programs such as Online Coaching Education, curriculum development, strategic planning, M&E development, social media support or sharing of best practices. This maximizes social impact and allows for the incredible impacts our partners achieve in their local communities.

    Some of the successes so far this year have included:

    – local coaches implementing the CAC curriculum with indigenous children to educate on drug abuse in Mexico.

    – the launch of a menstruation awareness and sanitary towel collection campaign to “encourage men to be more involved in what the adolescent girls and women go through in their menstruation cycle” in Nairobi, Kenya.

    – the creation of an entirely new NGO, ‘Green-Kenya’ for better implementation of the CAC curriculum in Kenyan communities with a specific focus on the environment.

    – the expansion of implementing partner Uni Papua to 28 communities in Indonesia.

    – the start of numerous new female empowerment through sport initiatives in Cameroon, Kenya, Zanzibar, and India.

    – the incorporation of CAC HIV games into daily trainings in Hyderabad, India, a topic that was previously avoided due to cultural sensitivities. Local coaches are now openly discussing sexual education in Hyderabad through sport for social impact.

    – the Mbarara community in Western Uganda working to build primary and secondary schools with playgrounds in order to provide children with sport for social impact education.

    For more information on Coaches Across Continents’ impacts in developing communities, you can read the ‘2014 In Review’ report.

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  • A Vision for Local Sustainability

    August 14th 2015. Léogâne to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Nairobi to Marsabit, Kenya. Tacloban to Baybay, Philippines. Nyanza to Kigali, Rwanda. Tanzania to Uganda. Uganda to Kenya. Cambodia to Philippines.

    These are some of the movements of our Community Impact Coaches (CICs) so far in 2015. We have had 16 CICs from 9 countries, directly impacting 28 CAC programs, and consequently nearly 100,000 children.

    The locations and numbers are compelling, but the stories behind those facts and figures are far more inspiring.

    So who are these CICs? How have they enhanced our work? And what have they brought back home to their communities?

    The CIC program pulls in the best of the best from our implementing partners. These are the coaches who have demonstrated their commitment to using sport for social impact at home with their local organizations, On-Field during past CAC trainings, and in year-round communication with CAC staff. These coaches, once selected as CICs, are part of On-Field teams for 1-3 weeks in various locations in their country or internationally. They assist us with the training of other leaders while learning more from our SDL Coaches, and soaking in everything they believe will empower them back home.

    We kicked off the year with a CIC exchange of sorts. Our 3rd-year partners, GOALS Haiti in Léogâne sent two coaches to work with our team in Port-au-Prince with 2nd-year partners The Sanneh Foundation’s Haitian Initiative (HI). The following week two coaches left the city to join our staff for the third year of the On-Field component to our partnership with GOALS. These two weeks are a great representation of what the CIC program is all about. The GOALS coaches were essential in helping us train 173 leaders in Cité Soleil. The HI coaches visited Léogâne and were able to see how far along a third-year partner is, while learning from them and being challenged to advance beyond the work we had done in their community.

    2015 also saw the return of our first-ever CIC, Nico Pota, who traveled from his home in Tanzania to help us run three programs in UgandaWhile in Uganda, Nico met the second-longest serving CIC, Salim Blanden. Soon after the Uganda programs, Salim traveled to meet our team in Kenya where he helped us train two sets of leaders. After his final week with us, one of the participants had some encouraging words to say about the CIC program: “It is very good for us participants to learn about other cultures and it can help to improve the life of the people in the community. It also encourages members of our community to try to achieve that as well, because when you have been in another community you come home with new ideas. To see Salim also encourages me to do my work and help to improve my own community in Rapogi.” – Michael Ouma, Migori County, Kenya.

    In early May we had some fiercely empowered Filipino women join us for our first time working in Baybay, Philippines after our second year with partners Football for Life in Tacloban. Hazel and Patty were running the show with a group of physical education teachers, and we hope to get one or both of them assisting us internationally in the near future.

    One of our Zimbabwe partners has finished the Hat-Trick Initiative, and after the third year several of the coaches applied to the CIC program. Of these candidates, Frank Chivawura was selected and joined CAC On-Field near his home in Harare with a first-year partner, helping us introduce our methodology to the new participants.

    One of the most incredible stories from our CICs takes us back to Kenya. David Mulo and Charles Otieno have been CICs with us for two years, helping us train leaders in various parts of their country. These inspired leaders work with long-time partners Vijana Amani Pamoja in Nairobi, and since joining us as CICs, they’ve wanted to do more. They started their own NGO called Green Kenya where they use CAC games to teach youth about all sorts of social issues, i.e.: “teaching participants how to conserve the environment using CAC environment games.” Another such issue is the empowerment of women. We have just been informed by David that they recently launched their new Girl Up initiative where, among other things, they are having men go out and buy sanitary towels to better understand and support women. David was part of our training in Marsabit, Kenya with Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI) – a program that needs little introduction when it comes to empowering women and girls.

    An excerpt from David’s blog sums it up beautifully. After witnessing the gap between men and women in Marsabit and learning of certain human rights violations, David writes:

    I decided that I want to do something for the girls when I get back to Nairobi… I will assemble the girls in my community and let them talk about the issues that they are facing and how they think we can tackle them. I want to let them have a voice to be heard. This idea would not have grown in my head if I did not get the chance to be a Community Impact coach (CIC).

    And now Girl Up is born.

    This is just one example – albeit amazing – of the work that our CICs are doing with us, and more importantly, without us. As David and many others have taken the time to thank CAC for the opportunities we present to them – I’d like to take this moment to thank our Community Impact Coaches across the world: Thank you for taking advantage of this opportunity and owning it; thank you for being exactly who you are and allowing it to inspire so many people; and thank you for not being afraid of the unknown.

    With a packed program schedule for the remainder of 2015, we cannot wait to unleash more CICs onto our partners. And moreover, we cannot wait to unlock more of these stories that are waiting to be lived by people who continue to dream despite overwhelming obstacles.

    To find out how you can support the Community Impact Coach program please go to this page or contact us.

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  • Building the Country of Their Choice

    July 23, 2015. “If you knew me, and you really knew yourself, you would not have killed me.” – Felicien Ntagengwa

    This stark quote greeted us at the Gisozi Genocide Memorial Centre in Kigali. During our last week of training the CAC staff spoke often about the genocide, Rwanda, and it’s future. We wondered about how the genocide was still impacting decisions made today, and whether it was in the daily thoughts of all the citizens. Instead we find ourselves coming to a slightly different conclusion: Rwanda is aware and respectful of its past, but more importantly it is looking to create a future where it does not happen again. In short, Rwanda is building the country they want to become. We see it in the progress being made in capital improvements and in the attitudes of the people moving forward in their daily tasks. Most especially, we see it in the commitment to a singular Rwandan identity instead of the tribal divisions that were a prelude to the genocide.

    This past week in working with over 50 coaches in Kigali we saw how the Rwandan community has moved forward and will continue to become the society they desire. One of the more notable moments of the week occurred Off-Field, in a meeting with the Ministry of Sport and Culture.   They have embraced the ideas put forward by Football for Hope, Peace, and Unity along with CAC to develop a Rwandan specific curriculum that can be implemented by FHPU coaches throughout the country, in the schools and soccer community. This would include games that teach about Rwandan identity, conflict resolution, and understanding stereotyping and discrimination. But they would also include lessons on entrepreneurial skills, leadership, and communication. Along with FHPU, Rwanda has made the choice of what their future should look like, and is able to decide how sport can play a role in educating people about that future. Now, with the help of CAC, we will begin to develop this curriculum with the goal of implementation later this year.

    One game that will be included in this Rwandan curriculum is a game that Victor “Brown” Shyaka created for the final day of training. It was a game of possession between two teams in a large area, but there were also very small squares scattered about that represented safe spaces. Throughout the game, taggers (who represented threats to an individual or community) were released and you had to find a safe space. This game was to teach children about various potential threats and also where and when to seek the safety of places like your home, soccer field, or community center.

    The coaches in Kigali, and throughout Rwanda, are becoming Self-Directed learners, capable of creating their own games and choosing their own future. The coaches, much like the country, is not quite there yet, but you can see the progress they have made and also how close they are to realizing their goals.

    It's been a great month for CAC and FHPU in Rwanda!

    It’s been a great month for CAC and FHPU in Rwanda!