• Hands Are Made For Helping

    August 29th 2016. Coaches Across Continents (CAC) volunteer Alicia Calcagni discussed our week with Globalteer in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

    Hands are made for helping. This week we worked with the non government organization Globalteer. The staff is building up a sports program, but they have also been running a school called Helping Hands for the past 10 years in a small village in Siem Reap Cambodia. It is about a 15 minute Tuk Tuk drive to the village from the city. There is no electricity or running water, and the bumps and holes in the dirt road aggressively tossed us from side to side in our seats. It was one of the most beautiful experiences. The endless rice fields glowed making the white clouds in the sky pop. We drove past various bamboo huts, and small kids exploring every corner of their natural play ground. The school was at the end of the road, and consisted of three classrooms, one bathroom, and a soccer pitch that had 2 goals made out of bamboo and wood. The families in the village built the school themselves so Globalteer would come and teach their kids. There are around 300 students and they mainly learn Khmer, English, and Math. The teachers gave a tour of the classrooms and then encouraged us to experience a class or get to know the kids. We recognized some of the students because they attended our program in the morning before class. After a dusty defeat in ‘duck duck goose’, a challenge to some pickup was much appreciated despite a similar result. After almost half an hour of running around, the kids showed no sign of slowing and moved on to playing a couple of games we taught them earlier in the week like head/ catch and 95% football. It was cool seeing the players enjoy CAC outside of the program.

     

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  • Rained On And Better For It

    CAC regular volunteer Charlie Crawford blogs about enjoying the rainy season in Sihanoukville, Cambodia with M’Lop Tapang.

    September 4th 2015. The rainy season earned its descriptor this week. After two weeks in Cambodia’s Capitol, our coaching staff split into two groups and went to Sihanoukville and Siem Reap. As it went, Turner and Spring headed north to Siem Reap while I journeyed to the coast with Markus (or “Helga Mueller” as he appreciated being called after his favorite player’s female alter ego). On the coast, we worked with partner program M’lop Tapang and their 25 participants on one of the closest to ideal fields I’ve ever seen working with CAC.

    Sihanoukville seemed to be rolling out the green carpet for us. For the training we played our games on a beautiful roofed field. A quality astro-turf away from broken glass, mud, and the scorching sun is simply too rare to not show up each day with a smile on your face. As good as it was, there was one moment during this week that the conditions taught an important lesson. Perfect conditions just don’t exist. As we prepared to start the training on Tuesday, the Cambodian rainy season hit the switch. So much rain pelted the roof that we couldn’t hear each other shouting 10 feet away for 3 hours.

    Needless to say, our plan for the day required some last minute reorganizing, yet ended up being one of our best. A feat, in large part because of the flexibility of our three Community Impact Coaches.

    I’ll remember a number of things about this program.  The girl’s team that had better skills than the boys. The 9v9 pickup game we played with our coaches against other locals one evening. The fried noodle meals that left me wanting nothing else (an uncommon occurrence). But as impressive as these and the rain and the beach were, what truly made this a week to remember was the presence of these CIC’s from Phnom Penh. Sameth “Handsome Man”, Ranya, and Makara became more than a couple of coaches throughout the week.

    Making strong connections with people in a short amount of time is a pre-requisite for on-field work with Coaches Across Continents. That being said, having 3 weeks instead of the typical 1 gave Markus and me an opportunity to form a bond with these three coaches even more. From Sameth’s vitality to Ranya’s massages to Makara’s sense of humor, these three have certainly become part of CAC’s and my own family.

    That roof taught me something. Our success this week wasn’t from it. What it taught me was that no matter the conditions, what pulls a program off is the people involved. Everything else can be dealt with, whether that be by huddling in a corner to be heard or huddling in the shade to cool off. Lesson learned.

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  • Insights from 3 Community Impact Coaches

    3 CAC Community Impact Coaches from IndoChina Starfish joined us in Siem Reap for our partnership with Globalteer.

    September 3rd 2015. “Monday, all 38 coaches met us at the field, many with no shoes. They were very shy and didn’t know what to expect.” These are the words of Song Sarim, a coach from Phnom Penh’s Indochina Starfish Foundation. “We have many new coaches here for the first time.”

    Similarly, Sarim is working in Siem Reap as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) for the first time. As the week comes to a close, Sarim feels extremely satisfied with the growth he has witnessed on the field. That shyness he saw on the first day in each of the coaches quickly melted away, and he could feel their energy on the field. He especially noticed this in the female coaches from Globalteer – the group Coaches Across Continents is partnered with this week. Over half of this week’s coaches were female, as Globalteer strives to empower women in the community. “Everyone seemed to be happy all week and I saw many strong, good players.”

    The other two CIC’s who joined us this week seemed to agree. For Yim Sovath, this came to life in a game focused on gender equity. Players are instructed to “run like a girl.” What often happens – and surely enough what happened this week – is that all players, boys and girls, start running with their arms up and begin prancing around. It is always funny to see female coaches do this, women who normally run just as fast as the men.

    Sovath comments that this game is very important for everyone – not just women. The conversation at the end of the game helps us to realize where these stereotypes of men and women come from and what we can do to change them as coaches. “I also enjoy the game because it is fun; everyone is laughing, and we also learn a lot,” Sovath smiles.

    Srey Mau, the third CIC working with us this week, was able to witness female empowerment beyond our daily training. As a returning CIC in Siem Reap, Srey Mau knows how important it is to encourage girls every day, both on and off the field. She loves games focused on gender equity because they remind her and the other coaches that girls can do the same things as boys, even on the football field.

    Srey Mau was able to witness this first-hand as she attended the training of one of our coaches at Stepping Stones Cambodia. At a U14 girls’ practice, she watched girls use their voice, share their dreams for the future, and make their own decisions. Srey Mau believes that successful trainings like this remind women in Cambodia that they are strong and they can do whatever they set their minds to.

    Most importantly, all three of these coaches had a blast, as did the many coaches from Globalteer. “From laughter, conversations, everything – you could tell the coaches were having fun…a very fun week!”

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  • 3 Weeks, 3 Goals – Coaches Across Continents Scores a Hat-Trick in Cambodia

    CAC Board Member, Judith Gates, writes about her three weeks on-field with CAC in Cambodia, highlighting the third with Globalteer in Siem Reap.

    August 30th, 2014. As a board member I have been involved with the thinking and planning behind CAC from day 1 and now take part on-field in one program each year. It is this on-field involvement that colors my perceptions, changing them from monochrome to startling technicolor. This year has been no different.

    Cambodia offers the Western visitor a taste of the exotic. The temples of Angkor Wat remind one of the grandeurs of the past. As a symbol of purity, lotus flowers bloom everywhere, whilst Cambodian smiles and graciousness dominate every exchange. But what also flourishes amid the exotic is grinding poverty, learned helplessness and scarcity of hope.

    In the last three weeks in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, CAC has worked with two extraordinary not for profit organisations, Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) and Globalteer, and through them been linked with local partners, including Stepping Stones and ABC’s and Rice. Overall I am humbled by their efforts to help children and young people secure an education and combat poverty. It is a privilege for CAC to bring our program of ‘sport for social impact’ to support their sterling work.

    And what positive responses we have had! Maybe the final session with Globalteer best captures the contribution CAC has made. Despite the relentless mid-day sun, despite the tired bodies drenched in sweat, no one wanted to leave the pitch. Certificates were distributed, words of appreciation and thanks were exchanged, innumerable photos were taken, and still the conversations continued, punctuated by laughter, permeated by hope.

    Founder Nick Gates often asks his coaches to name their hat-trick of the day, their three outstanding memories. Let me take this concept and apply it to my time on-field in Cambodia.

    My most powerful memory is of two words, simple in construct, profound in meaning; the words ” I promise!” For two years CAC has been linked with UNICEF in a project designed to further child rights and child protection in and through sport. CAC was determined to avoid a “filing cabinet approach”. We wanted to create a model which avoided systemised signing of forms, subsequently filed, quickly forgotten. Instead CAC sets out to engage the hearts and minds of local coaches so that their commitment to child protection is both heartfelt and sincere. Following a discussion on forms of abuse, coaches are asked to consider what they must ALWAYS do and NEVER do to protect the rights of children in their care. The discussions were personal and, at times, painful, but the outcomes were powerful. As each session closed, each and every coach shook hands and signed the flipchart to formalise their promise to protect. Their commitment was obvious. They want to improve their community and their country. Throughout the days following this powerful session coaches frequently came up to me to say only two words. ” I promise!” I heard their words, I saw their faces, I respect their determination to be role models for the future.

    My second memory is of empowerment. On the first morning of each program CAC was confronted by compliant individuals, culturally conditioned to acquiescence, victims of learned helplessness. By day four, as a result of carefully structured curriculum games, these ‘coaches in the making’ had found their ‘voice’, practised collaborative problem solving skills and were able to take a leadership role in “coach-backs”, namely coaching their peers in the games they had learned. From ‘silence’ to ‘voice’, from ‘compliance’ to ‘problem solving’, personal development was evident.

    My third memory is of the power of “self-directed learning”. CAC works with local partners to create “Community Impact Coaches”. These partner coaches complete our program within their community and then take their emerging ‘sport for social impact’ skills and widen their coaching experience by working with CAC coaches in another community. Five Community Impact Coaches were chosen from ISF in Phnom Penh to travel to Siem Reap to work with CAC and Globalteer. There they identified local problems and created and coached football games for social impact. Within the space of a very short time these Community Impact Coaches had grasped the concept of football for social impact, along with the capacity to create and coach games to address local problems. Now that is progress!

    Three weeks in Cambodia, three goals achieved. Truly a hat-trick of successes for Coaches Across Continents. When we work with our partner coaches to create self-directed learners, local coaches capable of making thoughtful choices, when they in turn work in their communities to create empowered youth, ‘learned helplessness’ is diminished and the cycle of poverty is interrupted. When disempowered people find hope, their language becomes a language of possibility. And who knows where a sense of possibility may lead.

     

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