• Gender Equality – Youth for Change

    December 21st, 2018. Global Citizen and Sky Blue FC Women’s Professional Soccer Player, McKenzie Meehan, writes about her last week on-field with Coaches Across Continents in Punjab, India with Community Partner YFC Rurka Kalan! 

    During my last week in India, we worked with YFC Rurka Kulan, a youth football club that also stands for “Youth for Change”. Rurka Kulan is a small village that relies heavily on its farming, but unfortunately has had many issues with substance abuse in the past. After my time here, it was very evident that YFC has become an oasis from this drug-ridden village and has granted many children the opportunity to make positive choices.

    Despite our short stay, I was very impressed by YFC’s huge influence within this community. We stayed right in the village within a family’s home so on our walk to and from the YFC facilities, we would often see many kids from the YFC programs walking home or to school. Other locals in the village were very welcoming and kind, and we were told it was because they truly appreciate those who come to help support YFC.

    In terms of our training, we focused a lot of gender equity, which is a large issue in remote villages like Rurka Kulan. Unfortunately, girls and women are not given the same access to education, employment and sport as boys and men, and few women are granted leadership positions. We had many important conversations with the participants about how these social norms can be challenged and ultimately changed within their community.

    Back in November, YFC Rurka Kulan hosted a 10-day event with Generation Amazing called “Girls Play, Girls Lead”, a huge event with teams from all over the world that focused on developing leadership qualities in young girls through football. We saw a video of the incredible event and we recognized several of the girls from programs that we worked with earlier in the trip!

    Throughout my four weeks in India, it has been promising to see how supportive and collaborative these Sport for Development programs are with one another. As another example, three of the organizations (Naz Foundation, Slum Soccer, and YFC Rurka Kulan) encouraged their girls to participate in “Goals For Girls”, a program that provides girls the opportunity to travel to Utah as part of a leadership summit. When my teammates and I at Sky Blue FC played against Utah Royals FC back in May, the Goals for Girls Summit was occurring, and I remember seeing all the girls up in the stands at the game. It’s crazy that it’s such a small world, but reflecting back on this moment really made this work feel even more meaningful with a very visible and real impact!

  • A New Side of Sport for Sky Blue FC’s McKenzie Meehan

    December 13th 2018. CAC Global Citizen and Sky Blue FC playerMcKenzie Meehan writes about working with Naz Foundation in Delhi, India with CAC.

    Hi everyone!

    During my first week, we worked with the Naz Foundation, a great organization that seeks to empower young women through the power of play and opportunity to learn in partnership with CAC’s Education Outside the Classroom curriculum. Our primary focus was to work with the netball coaches who teach life skills to young girls at local government schools. Naz’s netball curriculum seeks to fulfill their four main goals: to Be Yourself, Be Empower, to Be Money Savvy, and to Be Healhty.

    Because Naz has been working with CAC over the past several years, the coaches were very familiar with the standard CAC games that bring about social change. Perhaps more importantly, it was clear that the coaches truly wanted to engage, teach and empower their players in a meaningful way. Therefore, our week with the coaches was focused on helping them develop the necessary skills to do this, without necessarily following a step-by-step guide in a written curriculum.

    After evaluating several coaches at local schools and understanding the challenges these coaches often face, we focused on two main areas. First, we wanted to help Naz expand the number of games in their curriculum, while showing them how each game can have several progressions and can be used to teach numerous social messages. Next, we challenged the coaches to problem solve, to use critical thinking, and to ask players important questions to initiate meaningful conversation about important issues.

    Ultimately, the goal was to focus on the development of the ‘master trainers’, trainers, and community sports coaches to enhance the impact of the program on all of the young girls. I was very impressed by all of the coaches, as they were incredibly energetic, confident and empowered young women (as well as a few men!). It was cool to see them grow more confident in their roles as the week went on.

    Apart from our on-field work with the Naz Foundation, we went to a football training session with young boys and girls run by an organization called Foot and Boot. Despite the sandy field, the kids had so much fun and it’s amazing to see how much they truly love playing. Another evening, we played pick-up soccer with some coaches from The Football Link, the organization we will be working with in Udaipur later this month.

    In terms of Delhi itself, there are over 20 million people in the city, so the traffic and noise is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Our taxi driver told us your need three things to be able to survive in Delhi: a good horn, good brakes, and good luck!

    We also squeezed in a bit of sight seeing – we walked by the India gate, the President’s House, and through the crowded, windy streets Old Delhi. Yesterday, we took a day trip to the city of Agra where we visited the Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort, and the Tomb of Itimad ud Daulah; all three sites were even more beautiful than expected. The food here has also been great, although my mouth is usually on fire by the end of the meal!

    Looking forward to heading to Nagpur to work with Slum Soccer – thanks for following along!