• Empowering Child Rights in Nairobi

    July 17, 2019.  CAC’s Jamie Tomkinson (and Michael Johnson Young Leader) is leading programs this month in East Africa.  Follow along as he implements Purposeful Play and Education Outside the Classroom in Uganda and Kenya.

    Fun fact #1: Beyond Hoops are a Sport for Development organisation based in Nairobi, Kenya, however they started out in Vancouver, Canada!

    This was a great first year programme with there being many highlights – from the crazy dances we learned together to the thought-provoking conversations. We emphasised a focus on Child’s Rights and building self-esteem and confidence in children, particularly young women and girls. The group learned how to use Purposeful Play to discuss these topics and were very appreciative even after the first day. A real highlight for us was just how engaged and involved the participants wanted to be – they were open and honest that they were sceptical at first about how we could use play and physical activities, to address such important issues – but they kept an open mind and left upskilled and with a new sense of enthusiasm, proclaiming that they couldn’t wait to play the games in their own communities.

    We also delivered a very worthwhile session using the Coaches Across Continents ‘Child Protection Guidelines’. Half of the room were split on should corporal punishment be illegal or not in schools? We therefore facilitated a 50/50 debate on the matter. The coaches mentioned four types of Child abuse – physical, emotional, sexual, and verbal abuse. After a lengthy discussion, some of the coaches who thought corporal punishment was the right way to discipline a child agreed that there are other ways to communicate to children without using force or methods that may harm them physically and mentally.

    Fun Fact #2:  CAC is a global leader in Child Protection working with UNICEF as a pioneering member of the International Safeguards for Children in Sport, and publishing last month the Community Empowerment to Ensure Human Rights Guiding Principles.

    34 participants joined us throughout the week and will be using our curriculum to impact 1.3K children and young people in Nairobi.  #WhatsYourLegacy?

  • Bus-Bound for Busia

    July 15, 2019.  Long-time Community Impact Coach Salim Blanden from Mbrara leads a CAC training for the first time.

    I jump on a Kenya bound bus, but my final destination is Busia near the Uganda-Kenya borders. On the bus with me is Jamie Craig Tomkinson who I have ran a program with in Jinja with X-SUBA. Very tired from the last program we both slept off immediately once we entered the bus and within just two hours we had reached our destination (Busia).

    On the first day in Busia, we thought it was a local market day as we experienced a big crowd but we were told it’s a normal day because Busia is a very over populated area being a business area because of nearing the Uganda-Kenya border.

    Jamie and I are both ready to run our programs with YES Busia, one of the organizations that is partnering with CAC to implement Purposeful Play. We are supposed to run separate programs on two fields in Busia; one of the programs on the nearby local field at a primary school to be run by me and another in Masafu village to be run by Jamie. YES Busia is the only organization in Busia that is using sports to reach out to the local community to teach about the most pressing social issues which include on HIV (UNSDG3: Health & Wellness), education (UNSDG4: Quality Education), poverty (UNSDG8: Decent Work and Economic Growth), and the environment (UNSDG13: Climate Action). Ongatai Amosias, the leader of YES Busia, is working with young leaders in his office to bring about the positive social change. On the program with me is Mary, Moureen, Flavia and Dorcas who are acting as co-facilitators and also helping on other logistics. Mary and Moureen are helping out in running some games because they have been teaching CAC games in primary schools that work with YES Busia.

    First day for me to run such a program on my own is an interesting day for me. There are so many women on the program compared to men, something that is not so common in most communities I have worked with. Most of these are teachers from nearby primary schools and others are locals from the nearby villages.

    Being the second year CAC is running programs in Busia, there are some returnees from the last program and they can quickly understand the games, and some teachers have knowledge about the games because Mary and Moureen, the YES facilitators, have been running these games in different primary schools. Dorcas is also one of the facilitators of YES Busia and works with Mary and Moureen to run games in schools. Dorcas is helping out with making sure we have balls, bibs and cones for use at the pitch and takes care of everything but also joins in to play with other participants after to participate. She asks questions and is very confident and in our afternoon meeting, Jamie thinks she can be a potential CIC from YES Busia.

    The participants loved the games and wants CAC to come back next year. My highlight was when we played a game about HIV Myths (Ballack Clears HIV Myths). We had a lengthy discussion about HIV after the game to learn about the myths and also teach about HIV and people requested we talk a lot about HIV. My wish to the organization to help mobilise and educate more people about HIV in the villages of Busia.

    Coaches Across Continents worked with 156 participants over 5 days, impacting 18,000 children in the Busia district of Uganda.

  • The Universal Language

    April 5th 2016. CAC Community Impact Coach Charles Otieno blogs about his second week On-Field with CAC in Mbarara, Uganda with Mbarara Sports Academy.

    It was a four hour bus ride from the capital city of Kampala to Mbarara, a beautiful town located in the west of Uganda. I liked the environment that the Mbarara Sports Academy created there. Being the second town I visited in Uganda, it was another good experience. I met new people and the fun of it was people speaking a different language from what I speak in Kenya, but we had one thing in common, and that was soccer. Soccer plays a vital role and it made the communication easier, as we all know soccer is a universal language.

    The turnout of the five-day training was high and fairly well gender balanced. The active coaches were very interested in playing soccer so we got to play some of our more competitive games this week. It took a while for some of the coaches to realize that you can use soccer to teach on how to combat social issues, but it was impressive to see once they did. The highlight of the week was playing ASK for Choice games with female coaches for two days consecutively. The women were really committed. They arrived early in the morning at a different training field and then continued on with the rest of the coaches in the original site for extra hours of CAC games. The majority of the girls were students in college and were studying in different fields so that they can have as many opportunities as men. They believe that women should have equal opportunities as men and through that, the community will grow economically and socially. They want to be more independent, have more freedom to play sport, to education, to employment, to property ownership, and to make personal choices.

    The One World Futbols have played a big role in the On-Field sessions. I have been able use them to train and create a learning environment for young men and women. Having soccer balls is one of the challenges communities face and these ultra-durable balls have been the answer because they last longer and can be played in any type of pitch be it grass field, turf field or dusty field. With the One World Futbol’s being all over the world, it tells us how soccer speaks to people in a language they can all understand.

    They say “play with the best and be the best”. I take this opportunity to thank CAC for the great opportunity and also the gentlemen that have been my backbone for the two weeks here in Uganda. It has been great working with David Neaverth, Markus Bensch and Charlie Crawford and I’m happy I managed to grasp some On-Field and Off-Field skills from the team.

    One Football…. One Game….One Goal…. One language…. One World.

    DSC_0047 3

  • 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.

    2015-03-25 18.12.02

  • A Successful Journey With CAC

    May 12th 2015. CAC Community Impact Coach Salim Blanden, from Uganda, blogs about his trip with CAC to Kenya.

    It’s been another exciting year for me after hearing the news that I would be working with CAC in another country. It was the 19th of April; I was already in Kisumu, Kenya, waiting for the CAC program leader, Markus and another CAC coach, Turner. Two hours at the ferry station, Markus and Turner arrived. I was so excited to meet Markus again since we had met in Uganda at Mbarara Sports Academy in 2014.  I knew I would have a good time with Markus, knowing he would be the leader of the programs in Kenya.

    We went to Mbita, a small village on the shores of Lake Victoria in Homabay County. It was a great week for me at Boychild Agenda International. We started the first program with a lot of energy while I enjoyed the fish from the lake every day.

    After one week, we set off to Rapogi to CREATA where we would spend another week. The Centre for Regeneration and Empowerment of Africa Through Africa (CREATA) is a Non-Governmental Organization in Kenya that provides opportunities for young people to be creative and explore their potentials. They encourage them to find solutions to their problems and inspire the people of Kenya to love and build their country through sports.

    It’s year two for CAC  and CREATA to work together and we hit the pitch on Monday morning 27th April. After a brief introduction from Markus, Turner and I, we went straight to the pitch. Turner was the leader of the week in Rapogi and we were joined by Markus’ friends Vincent and Daniel from Germany, as well as Sindiswa Ntlangulela from South Africa. They all had come to join the On-Field program and celebrate Markus’ 30th Birthday.

    I was excited to get on the pitch on Monday morning after a heavy breakfast provided by CREATA. Turner ran our first game, ‘Circle of Friends’, one of my favorites. It was clear that many coaches recognized this game as a good number of them were returners. We started with high energy and the new coaches understood the idea of the game very quickly; playing the game with a lot of fun and loud voices. Turner took us through other games like Wilshere Skills for Life, where the coaches learnt and practiced different ways of passing the ball, as Arsenal FC and England midfielder Jack Wilshere does.

    I was then given a chance to lead a game called ‘Mingle Mingle’ and I was excited about the response of the coaches when I taught this game. Mingle Mingle is a fun game where players jog around the field and the coach yells a number and then participants quickly get into those groups. The remaining players had to dance or do a goal celebration in front of other participants. The participants loved to dance ‘Kuku dance’ and this made everyone happy, making the game fun for everyone. This gave me confidence, because they all understood what I taught them. I also played another game called Wilshere for Fun and my last game on Monday was Rwanda for Skills. The fact related to Rwanda for Skills was the highlight of the day for me, because it was new to most coaches. They kept asking me if it was true that Rwanda has more women in parliament than men.

    It was a great experience for me to teach the CAC games to other coaches and to know that they understood what I taught them. I would like to thank Markus for always talking to me after the games and encouraging me. This gave me the courage to teach the next games. He thanked me for my work and asked me how I felt after teaching the games.

    Off the pitch, I enjoyed staying in Rapogi at Paul Ogalo’s home, the CREATA Director. I played with a lot of kids around Paul’s home and enjoyed the good food. The food in Kenya was nice, lots of fish, Chapati, Ugali and meat. Although I did not understand the Kiswahili language very well, I understood the language of delicious food at Paul’s house.

    I was also excited about the various programs CREATA is running as part of engaging the young people in Rapogi. I was impressed by the ‘Pacific group’ which is a dancing group of young people that entertained us on Wednesday when we celebrated Markus’s birthday. Afterwards we visited the Rapogi Rock and took photos on top of the rock. Wednesday night gave me more motivation as we danced until midnight, celebrating Markus’ birthday. It was a great party as Daniel and Vincent sang Sorbian birthday songs for him which they always sing back at home honoring the person’s life and wishing him/her all the best.

    On to the pitch again, the coaches enjoyed the games and did coach backs every day. It was clear that most coaches taught the games well during coach backs and it was a good indication that they would teach these games and impact more children in their local communities. The coaches liked fun games like Mingle Mingle, 95% football, Scary soccer, and Animal game. Others also liked playing scrimmages. Female empowerment games were also responded to very well. They had so many questions about the topics we raised. Markus always asked more questions to make the participants think about different ways to empower women.

    It was a great week for me and the whole CAC team. I found a new home; I could not have asked for something better than this. Thanks to Markus and Turner for the advice and encouragement throughout my time in Kenya, and to Paul and the CREATA staff for hosting us all.

    More importantly, I would like to thank the CAC founder Nick Gates for the Letter of Commendation and Recognition. I will continue educating young people and other coaches in my community. I look forward to work with Coaches Across Continents again whenever I’m given the chance.

    P1060402

  • Community Impact Coaches Collide in Mbarara

    April 6th 2015. Our bus stops frequently on our 4-hour journey west to Mbarara, and every time it does, local vendors holding baskets of sodas and snacks above their head, flock towards us and sprint to keep up before jumping aboard the slowing vehicle, in hopes of finding some hungry travelers. On a bus full of Ugandans and clucking chickens, I’m an obvious target for the vendors. I’ll take a water please. I’ll pass on the fried fish…

    We are off to our second training site in Uganda with a program called Mbarara Sports Academy run by Salim Blanden. Salim is paving the way for future coaches and future leaders through his academy and it wont be long before more leaders in Mbarara emerge in the football for social impact world. Salim founded Mbarara Sports Academy in 2010 and ever since he was introduced to CAC two years ago at our training in Kampala with an NGO called, Soccer Without Borders, he has been using our curriculum. He has become a special part of our Coaches Across Continents family as one of our Community Impact Coaches. Last year he travelled to South Africa with Coaches Across Continents for 2 weeks, and later this year he will travel with CAC to another country. But the work Salim does with CAC in other countries doesn’t tell enough of his story.

    Upon arrival we are welcomed into Salim’s home with open arms by “Momma Salim” who takes extra good care of us in her humble abode all week; cooking us hearty meals to start and end our days. Salim’s office is in his garage at the end of his home. The cement walls are plastered with pictures of the 200 youth he coaches in his community among the line of CAC certificates that he proudly displays. You can tell by the hanging “Football for Social Impact” Posters that fill the white spaces on the walls, where Salim’s vision lies. Children lounge around in his office daily; sometimes just hanging around while Salim does his work, other times working away on a pair of sandals or string bracelets. Most of the revenue for Mbarara Sports Academy comes out of Salim’s pocket, the other percentage comes from donations to the academy and the shoes and bracelets the kids make and sell to locals. Salim works as a University coach on the side to make some extra money to run his youth development academy. He coaches 200 boys and girls through his academy, boasting some of the top talent in the area, but that is not what Salim is most proud of. Through football young boys and girls have received scholarships to primary and secondary schools, which Salim values above everything else. All 200 of Salim’s players attend school, and he fully funds roughly 67 kids who aren’t able to pay school fees on their own. His passion for helping the children of Mbarara is unusual to see in a 29-year-old male footballer in Uganda. Salim was one of the greatest players Mbarara has ever seen in his playing days as a goalkeeper. Unlike many of the top players in Uganda however, Salim recognizes that using football as a tool to send social messages to his players goes much further than coaching just football alone. There is life after football and Salim makes sure his players are prepared for that.

    Training in Mbarara this year attracted many of the same participants as last year. In seeing the impact that Salim has made on the community, it is apparent that many others have been positively affected and inspired by his presence. This year we chose games to address Female Empowerment, HIV education and Child Rights, which Salim felt were especially important to address. With Nico being with us this week, the participants were able to speak and learn from two of our most top level Community Impact Coaches. Nico comes from Kigoma, Tanzania; the first-ever training site in which Coaches Across Continents worked, in 2008. Nico is now the District of Sport Officer in Chamwino, Tanzania and has been using our games over the past 6 years to educate youth in his community. Nico’s energy is felt through every community he enters. It was a special week in Mbarara working with two leaders who have shown their passion and leadership through the work they have done for their communities, for their countries, and for the world through Coaches Across Continents. Our last day of training we were able to watch the players coach their peers the different games they learned last year, and throughout the week this year. It is always impressive to see the players transform from player to coach within a day. When they were put to the task, they certainly put on a show!

    Our last day in Mbarara, Momma Salim invited us to her farmhouse, which was about a 20-minute drive from the city. She cooked us lunch and toured us around the farmland which was owned by her mother and father before they passed away. The farm is now home to her workers, and her livestock. Among the 400-acre plantation, she grows corn, potatoes, plantains, cassava, peanuts, beans, fruit and sunflowers. She sells some of the crops to town along with milk from her cows and honey from her beehives. On over 500 acres of land, Momma Salim’s home sit halfway up a mountain, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of rumbling “boda-boda”(motorbike) engines and screeching tires; an escape from our normal daily encounters in Mbarara. It was sitting in the calmness of nature; listening to the sounds of the birds and the thunder rolling over the mountains that made our week spent on the field in Mbarara feel so far away.

    2015-03-25 18.12.02