A New Experience
September 26th 2017. Michael Johnson Young Leader Jamie Tomkinson wrote about working with CAC and The Door Albania in Shkoder, Albania.
Our week in Albania was both an experience and a program I learnt a lot from and won’t forget in a hurry. We were living on a farm and were very much back to basics with no internet and being a 45 minute walk from the nearest city. Having grown up in the heart of Edinburgh, a busy capital city, this was a new experience for me entirely. We became accustomed to seeing 6 dogs, 4 cats, geese and even the occasional donkey just wandering past. I didn’t even need an alarm clock for the first time since I was kid, thanks to our friendly but noisy rooster family. And who needs a TV when you’ve got 6 dogs? They were a constant comedy show!
We also had lots of fun On-Field. As this was a year 3 program, the participants who had been before already had a great understanding and knowledge around the games and knew what types of things to expect. We had a small group who were engaging and wanted to learn. My personal highlight from the week was giving them the time and opportunity to create their own games using their experiences and past knowledge of the previous two years, and then each of them delivering it to the rest of the group. It was encouraging and rewarding to watch them all give positive and constructive feedback to each other after delivering some great games.
It was evident that this 3 year program has had an impact on these people, they were open-minded about the various social issues we discussed and had a real desire to make a difference in their own communities, using sport as a vehicle to do so.
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.
Help A Community In Need This Christmas
December 12th 2015. This holiday season Coaches Across Continents is asking you to help youth in at-risk disadvantaged communities all over the world. Throughout December we have been counting down (or up) CAC’s 12 communities of Christmas which you can directly support by making a donation on Firstgiving. Your donations are incredibly important to ensure that children in these communities continue to get the opportunity to learn about vital social messages and have the ability to take ownership of their own choices.
Sentani, Indonesia, was the 7th CAC community of Christmas. Indonesia has many underserved populations living in remote regions where few international groups offer assistance. Make a donation on this Firstgiving page to directly assist these populations through our work.
Kathmandu, Nepal was the 1st CAC community of Christmas. Support Kathmandu on this page.
Diadema, Brazil was the 2nd CAC community of Christmas. Support Diadema on this page.
Shkoder, Albania was the 3rd CAC community of Christmas. Support Shkoder on this page.
Leogane, Haiti was the 4th CAC community of Christmas. Support Leogane on this page.
Nagpur, India was the 5th CAC community of Christmas. Support Nagpur on this page.
Stellenbosch, South Africa was the 6th CAC community of Christmas. Support Stellenbosch on this page.
Zanzibar, Tanzania was the 8th CAC community of Christmas. Support Zanzibar on this page.
Lubumbashi, DRC is the 9th CAC community of Christmas. Support Lubumbashi on this page.
Keep watching our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates on CAC’s 12 communities of Christmas this holiday season. Don’t forget as we approach the end of the US tax year that, as a registered non-profit, your donation to Coaches Across Continents is tax-deductible. Our EIN number is 32-0249174.
Opening The Door Into Europe
September 14th 2015. We recently started our first ever Hat-Trick Initiative partnership in Europe with The Door in Albania.
Coaches Across Continents is an organization with a long and deep connection to Europe. The founder, Nick Gates, is from the UK. We are a registered non-profit in the UK as well as the US. Over the course of eight years we have had staff and volunteers from across Europe and our current staff are citizens of places such as Belgium, Germany and the UK. We have developed many partnerships with other European organizations such as Peace One Day and streetfootballworld and regularly speak at and attend European conferences like Beyond Sport in London, Peace and Sport in Monaco and Trust Women in London.
Despite this, we have never partnered with another European organization to implement our three year Hat-Trick Initiative. Until this year. We were delighted to accept The Door, from Albania, following their application as part of our Peace Day competition earlier this year.
The Door is an organization based in picturesque Shkoder in Northern Albania. They have an extensive soccer academy including a girls team (one of the few in Albania). They also run a social integration program with local children and facilitate sessions every year to coincide with Peace Day on September 21st. In this part of Europe there are many tightly packed countries. Decades of conflict has forced great crossover between the many nationalities, religions and social groups which co-exist in the region. Organizations such as The Door, which promote integration and inclusion are integral to the ongoing peace in Shkoder, Albania, and the surrounding countries.
We began our first On-Field week with The Door in unusual circumstances. We met the participants for the week at The Door’s eco-social farm which, despite still being in development, was home to many farm animals and a playground where children who are in need of a safe space visit. It was clear from the first day that our participants would not disappoint. They were all keen to learn more about how children can be taught through sport. This led to an impactful week during which these local coaches demonstrated not only their coaching ability but also their willingness to protect the rights of children and to improve their community. We observed passionate opinions on the problems in their community and the importance of sport, music and art in addressing these issues.
The Door will be running a Play for Peace tournament in Shkoder to celebrate Peace Day this year. We made sure to teach a number of CAC’s Peace Day games which can be used to educate children taking part in the tournament about the issues of stereotyping, violence and discrimination. At the end of the week the participants showed great ability and passion as they coached some of the games we had shown them. It was our pleasure to initiate this partnership between CAC, Peace One Day and The Door. Having opened the door to Europe through Shkoder, Albania who knows where we could end up!