• Football for Female Empowerment

    Why is it important for girls to play sports? This is a question we ask all of our participants, all over the world. Our female empowerment initiative here at CAC is all-inclusive… meaning we hold ourselves to higher standards than we hold the rest of the world. Our team is made up of at least 60% female coaches, and we do not accept partner programs that do not include women in their activities. It is important to understand, however, that gender equity is the ultimate goal. Yet, so often we hear the phrase, “she doesn’t play like a girl.” What does this mean? How do we move away from this type of mentality that so generalizes and devalues female potential?

    IMG_0472

    The need for female empowerment on a global scale is urgent. We recognize that need and in response, allow it to permeate throughout our organization on and off the field. On-field, aside from leading programs with female senior staff and the most female-empowering men you’ve ever met, we have injected it into our curriculum. Every player has a Gender Equity game. An example of one of these games is Messi for Gender Equity. This game addresses violence with particular attention to violence against women and girls.

    In order to bring these issues to the forefront we play a game with variations that point to specific topics. In the first round there are the taggers that represent different forms of violence – physical, emotional, verbal, sexual – that chase the others around a box that represents their community. If tagged, the player has to freeze with one hand covering their mouth, signifying the inability to speak. We will stop and have a brief discussion about that round and how difficult it was for the players being chased. We will ask who in their community can help put an end to violence against females and those answers will elicit a ball. The footballs can be passed among the players being chased, representing members of the community that can help prevent violence and also assist those that have been victims of violence. The players in possession of a ball are safe, and those that are frozen can be freed if a ball passes through their legs. The final round of this game allows the frozen players to call for help, demonstrating that an act of violence did not take away their voice.

    IMG_9990

    Messi for Gender Equity is a terrific game of tag that incorporates the ball and captures the essence of violence – the affects, how to stop it, how to help each other, how to help ourselves. The game embodies the message, and the details come through in the discussions, which, as always, vary as the culture varies. A group of sixty middle-aged men in the toughest neighborhood of the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, Cité Soleil, Haiti, is going to have a different discussion from a group of twenty teenage girls in downtown Mumbai, India.

    With this game, and many others, an obvious target is the voice. A massive part in all that we do, the voice is the most powerful tool that we can use to make our own decisions in life, to make our own choices. Every person, young or old, female or male, is entitled to a voice and a choice, and we work to empower them to claim those rights.

    Our Monitoring & Evaluation shows us that participants who know how to use football to give young girls a voice and to have confidence to make personal choices jumps from 17% before to 96% after a CAC training.

    IMG_9899

  • Street Soccer for Social Impact

    March 5, 2014. From the beach to the city, CAC programs in Mexico moved to the capital for an intensive, three-day training with a great new partner. Street Soccer Mexico is based in Mexico City but has leagues running throughout the country. Coaches traveled great distances to be part of our program, but unfortunately, lack of funds prevented even more from making the trip. This organization’s initiative centers on getting youth off the street, away from negative influences, and onto teams where they are taught life skills and hopefully given hope for their future.2014-02-18 14.38.02

    For these three days we ran a three-hour session each morning and afternoon and had between thirty and forty coaches throughout the program. This group was made up of a truly diverse scope of participants ranging from international freestyle football champions to the president of Street Soccer Mexico himself. Our team was thoroughly impressed with this group, and particular note must be given to Alejandro, a single-leg amputee and excellent footballer who attended our training with his coach. This posed a welcome challenge for our team as we worked to develop a curriculum that could be enjoyed by the group as a whole, and by the final day it was clear how pleased all parties were with the result. We were also joined by One World Futbol (OWF) Chief Operating Officer, Arnold Ambiel, alongside his son, Nick, on break from high school. Valuable partners for both CAC and Street Soccer Mexico, it was wonderful to have OWF representatives on the field with us, playing with their own indestructible footballs and watching them come to life during CAC games.

    2014-02-19 13.44.22One of the priorities for the week, stressed by the participants, was to teach games that addressed the issue of discrimination, and the many forms it can take in our community. One of the games we chose to play in order to tackle this issue on the football field was Falcao for Gender Equity.  In this game one team is attacking one goal and defending three goals, while the other team is defending one goal and attacking three goals… That is so not fair!  Yes, yes, we know. The idea is to provoke that sense of unfairness to demonstrate the absence of equal opportunities in our society. So, what’s not fair? Can you give me an example of a time when you or someone you know did not have the same opportunity as others? Why? Because of how they look, the color of their skin, their ability to play football, how fast they can solve a math problem, whether they have all their body parts, how much they weigh, what organ they have between their legs? With this game we use a really fun – and I mean really fun, our coaches always have to jump in and play – football game to emphasize the reality of discrimination in the world. We always pose the questions to the group, however, in order to learn from them about their community, the different types of discrimination they face in their schools, on their teams.

    Our three coaches for this program, Sophie, Nora, and Tomas, the Latin American team, were extremely impressed with this group session after session, day after day. They showed up with smiles, enthusiasm, an eagerness to learn, and above all, a passion for their work and a commitment to the social impact side of coaching football. The future of this partnership with Street Soccer Mexico is booming with potential, and we cannot wait to hear about what they do throughout the year.

    2014-02-19 16.58.33

  • New Country, New Experiences, Big Impact

    P1080048

    February 28, 2014. It is safe to say that our coaches experienced a true CAC first upon their arrival at their weeklong home on the Yucatán Peninsula. After two flights and a quick 14-hour layover in between, staff members Nora Dooley and Sophie Legros alongside volunteer and all-star translator Tomas Torres-Tarver of the One World Futbol family, arrived safely in Mérida, albeit exhausted, excited, and a bit delirious. Our gracious hosts, FEYAC (Fundación del Empresariado Yucateco A.C.), gathered us from the airport late at night and brought us to our temporary oasis… and when I say oasis, I mean… oasis. Eyes watering from laughing so hard, our coaches could do little else as they soaked in the reality of living directly on a beach, in a gorgeous house with more space than our two seasoned staff knew what to do with. Suffice it to say we are not used to such luxury, but when it comes our way we certainly are not shy in seizing the moment.

    Other than the VIP accommodation, this week in Mérida stands as our first program in Mexico, and this group of coaches definitely delivered. A band of about 50 men and women from all over the Yucatán state, these participants proved each and every day how much they not only care about the children in their care as teachers and coaches, but also how passionate they are about finding innovative ways to educate. They unequivocally latched on to the social messages of every game we played with them, making our jobs incredibly easy, fun, and rewarding.

    1502va108As we do with all programs, in all cultural contexts, in so many communities around the world, we asked this group about the social issues most relevant to their society, to their culture, to the people, young and old, that they encounter in their everyday lives. The feedback we received was integral in planning the training schedule, as our priority is always to give our participants exactly what they ask for as we help them on the path to self-directed learning.

    The collective voice of this assembly of coaches emphasized the reality of bullying and discrimination facing children throughout the communities they live and work in. In response to this we played a game called Lupita Against Bullying. We named this game after a participant in this training who has been playing for the Mexican Women’s National Team for 15 years – Lupita Worbis – a true role model who cares deeply about community development and using her celebrity to pay it forward.

    picho face

    In this game there are players who represent different forms of bullying such as insults or violence. These players must chase the others around the grid – which represents their community – and try to tag them. If they tag them they yell out what type of bullying they represent and the player they tag must crouch down on the ground, making it clear that they have been caught. Once all the players are tagged we play the game again, but this time we introduce a way for the tagged players to be freed. This can happen when a free player approaches a crouching, frozen player and empowers them with a complement, raising them back up and giving them the power to run once more. Following this game was a great discussion about how we can combat the issue of bullying, addressing specific circumstances raised by some of the participants as well as in a more general context.

    This dynamic and fruitful week of training left our CAC team in high spirits. Yes, the beach house played a slight factor, but even more inspiring was the passion exuded by the participants and members of the FEYAC team day in and day out. To say we are excited about the future of this partnership is an understatement, but when I say our staff will be fighting over running this program in the coming years… I’m talking rumpus!

    Thank you FEYAC and all the coaches and teachers for the incredible welcome, hospitality, energy and commitment to social impact – ¡Muchas gracias!

    1502va107

  • Corporate Social Responsibility Partnership, Tanzania

    photo-1February 26, 2014. It was Monday 17th of Feb 2014. I arrived at Benjamin Mkapa Secondary School and all the teachers asked me where is Brian Mingle Mingle? It is simple question to me, I answered that I am Impact coach from Tanzania country and CAC decided to choose me to represent in running this program and they believe one another teachers from your group will also be Impact coach.

    After few minutes of introduction why Tanzania got the opportunity to run this program for refresh day from the Group of Champions from Standard Chartered Bank Tanzania (SCB), Juanita Mramba represented SCB to open the refresh days in Dar [es Salaam]. She addressed more than 50 teachers, 10 champions from SCB and 7 coaches from Tanzania Football Federation who coach children in different clubs in Dar. They said SCB had their goal to reach 15,000 children at the end of this year. So the teachers are responsible to implement this knowledge back to their school.

    DSC_0592

    I started our program by giving the chance to the teachers to review the games they learned last year. They remembered the games although they forget what we learned through those games. I am the one who tried to explain each game and how to connect what we learn to our daily life and address that CAC are using their curriculum to change the life of children through soccer. And I also explained that we are using females as the role models in order to empower females in our country. After two days in Dar, on the last day, CEO (Liz  Lloyd) from SCB came to see what is going on and participated in playing Mingle Mingle (see photo). At the closed celebration few champions, teachers and me, we got gifts for hard work during the training.

    I then went to Arusha to meet with 36 teachers. It was fantastic session because when I arrived in Arusha School, I saw the teachers had revised all the games themselves and explained what we learned in each game. Arusha is the best for the teachers to run this program. They are ready to run this program.

    When I was leaving Arusha at airport it happened one problem with Airport Official who wanted to know why our balls travel with air. So it took time to explain the types of balls [One World Futbols] but then they agree to carry my bag in the flight.

    Last I finished with 46 teachers in Mwanza, which also is very fun to me to run this program alone as Impact coach. I thank CAC and SCB to trust me as a Tanzania citizen to run this program on behalf of Coaches Across Continents.

    DSC_0335

    Community Impact Coach, Nico Pota, who was part of our very first program in Kigoma, Tanzania in 2008, has been instrumental in every program we have run in the country during the last 6 years. Over the course of this week Nico ran refresher courses in three locations on behalf of SCB Tanzania and CAC. Sustainability in action. CSR in action. A beautiful partnership and an incredible role model and member of the CAC family. Thank you Nico!

  • Esto es Cartagena

    P1070842February 24, 2014. After a week hiatus back at the CAC Global Headquarters in Florida, 2014 programs resumed once again in the Western Hemisphere, but this time in Spanish! Three CAC coaches set their sights on South America including two senior staff, Sophie Legros and Nora Dooley, and one volunteer, Tomas Torres-Tarver of One World Futbol.

    The trio of 23 year-olds landed in Colombia ready for a week of football, social impact, and maybe a little bit of dancing in the beautiful city of Cartagena. This week would be our third year working with Colombianitos, but our first with their team in Cartagena, the past two years taking place in Puerto Tejada.

    P1070824

    We could not have asked for a more welcoming introduction to our three weeks in Latin America. Colombianitos is an incredible organization that already does great work with children using sport for development. Our games are a perfect fit for this group as they seek to do more teaching on the field, developing young leaders while developing young footballers.

    The participants in Cartagena were made up mostly of Colombianitos youth that the staff believe are up-and-coming leaders in their organization. The head coach of this team, Alfredo, who also hosted our three coaches at his apartment for the week, is the epitome of a role model in his community. We could not walk down a street without at least ten people stopping him to have a chat, or him going out of his way to engage with an acquaintance.

    P1070990

    This man treats everyone like family and it was obvious how much the young players look up to him. We owe Alfredo a big thank you for making us feel so completely at home in a foreign environment and helping in the rather quick process of making our team fall in love with a new country.

    We were also joined by a Colombianitos coach from Puerto Tejada, Mauro, who is already a professional at coaching football for social impact. Maybe this is due to our previous work with him and the rest of the Puerto Tejada coaches, but it was evident how much Mauro has retained from our trainings and how much he coaches our curriculum – and the games he has adapted! – throughout the year. Mauro and Alfredo are both well on their way to becoming self-directed learners and if we return to work with Colombianitos next year, inventing new games will be the priority.

    Sad to leave such a beautiful country with such an electric energy, music pulsing wherever you go, our three coaches turn their attentions to Mexico for two weeks with two different One World Futbol partners… and maybe a beach house somewhere along the way, vamos a la playa!

    P1080023

  • CAC Represents at FICCI

    Brian speaks at FICCI GOALS

    Brian speaks at FICCI GOALS

    February 16, 2014.  Chief Executive Strategist Brian Suskiewicz joined partners Dr. Abhijeet Barse from Slum Soccer and Stephen Sonderman from One World Futbol on a panel entitled Leveraging CSR Policy for Football Development.  The panel took place this past Friday at the 2-Day Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce & Industry (FICCI) GOAL Indian Football Summit.  The well-received panelists discussed with government and football leaders the importance of using CSR policies in order enhance specific football programs or projects.

    IMG_9084Prior to Friday’s panel, Coaches Across Continents was a finalist for the FICCI India Sports Award in the category of Best Sports NGO for 2013 held on February 13th.

    Abhijeet (Slum Soccer) also spoke on the panel

    Abhijeet (Slum Soccer) also spoke on the panel

    Brian, Abhijeet, and Stephen will conclude their time together in India with site visits to Nagpur and Chennai where an official launch for the One World Futbol donation from Chevrolet will take place.  The event in Nagpur will revolve around the 11th Annual Slum Soccer National Championship, while the event in Chennai will have local partners and recipients participating in the event.

    Abhijeet (Slum Soccer), Brian (CAC), and Rachel & Stephen (One World Futbol) at the FICCI Awards Dinner

    Abhijeet (Slum Soccer), Brian (CAC), and Rachel & Stephen (One World Futbol) at the FICCI Awards Dinner