• Global Leaders in Child Protection

    April 3, 2018. Children’s Rights are of paramount importance to Coaches Across Continents.   One of the pillars of our organization is the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. But it is one thing to say that the protection of children is important, and another entirely to actively create policies and implement practices which change communities and cultures in the 50+ countries where we operate. But this is exactly what we are doing. Over 10,400 coaches have signed Child Protection policies because of their participation in CAC On-Field programming.  Our partnership work around the world includes addressing and changing some of the most difficult issues pertaining to child rights and protection, including trafficked children, child soldiers, FGM, restrictive and harmful cultural and religious practice, legal corporal punishment in schools, street children, and more.

    Today we are proud to announce the publication of a new document to further progress Child Protection policies and thinking, entitled “Peace and Child Rights.”  This document continues to frame our Child Protection policy creation and community development on two main fronts:

    1. The understanding that Child Protection is not just as an elimination of abuse, but also the creation of what children should experience in a healthy and happy childhood, namely physically and emotionally safe spaces where they are encouraged in their successes and allowed to constructively learn from their failures as they engage in our SDL environment.
    2. That the relationship between a teacher/coach needs to exist and be a healthy one that allows for a mentorship of children from adolescence into adulthood.

    Coaches Across Continents is already implementing these parameters with all our partner programs globally. Before working with CAC, only 18% of local coaches had received child protection training.  Now over 10,400 coaches at 100% of our programs have gone through Child Protection Training.

    This new publication initiative goes hand in hand with our ongoing work with UNICEF, where we are on three working groups including:

    1. Advocacy and communications on policy and practice;
    2. Quality assurance and access to training and support; and
    3. Research, Monitoring, Evaluation, and Learning and improvement of resources.

    These active workgroups continue to drive global policy in Child Rights and Protection policies, and came about from our work together as a Pioneering Member of UNICEF’s International Safeguards for Children in Sport.

    CAC also uses our curriculum to educate children and coaches about the rights guaranteed by the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child.  Since it’s inception in 2015, our Child Rights curriculum has been used at 88% of our On-Field Programs.

    Coaches Across Continents will continue to be the global leader in Child Protection.  We are already working on ways to continue to eliminate all violence against children (sexual, physical, emotional, and verbal abuse) and to create partnerships and communities which focus on Child Rights advocacy, creating safe spaces, and building healthy mentoring relationships.

    #WhatsYourLegacy?

  • Post-Disaster Sustainable Legacies: the AFC & CAC

    March 25, 2018. Kathmandu and Sindhupalchok, Nepal. The Asian Football Confederation (AFC), the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA), and Coaches Across Continents joined forces this past weekend for three important events. There was a school dedication ceremony in Sindhupalchok, Nepal signifying the completion and handover of the AFC school rebuilding project, as well as a coaching education workshop on sport for social impact, followed by a clinic for Nepali street children.

    As the Official Social Responsibility Partner of the AFC, Coaches Across Continents (CAC) is working with ANFA grassroots coaches in Nepal, creating Education Outside the Classroom. Through football, we create learning opportunities to enable the social development of players on key topics like Health & Wellness, the importance of Education, Child Rights, communication and confidence, and teamwork.

    Thirty-four coaches worked with Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz on Friday learning our award-winning methodology and curriculum. We then held our first joint clinic with social development as the primary focus, working with over 50 street children from the organization Shelter.  Incidentally, a team from Shelter will be representing Nepal in Russia this summer at the Street Child World Cup.

    Saturday at the Shree Setidevi School, near Chautara, Sindhupalchok, Nepal was the official school dedication and handover ceremony. The original school building was completely decimated by the 2015 earthquake. The new school is now one of the nicest in the entire country. Standing two stories tall, it houses 18 classrooms, a central courtyard, washrooms, offices, and a water filtration system that will serve the entire community as well as the 600+ students who will attend the school.

    Key dignitaries in attendance throughout the weekend included AFC Executive Committee member and Chairman of Social Responsibility Ahmed Eid (Saudi Arabia), ANFA President Narendra Shrestha (Nepal), AFC Head of Social Responsibility Dr. Annathurai Ranganathan (Malaysia), CAC Chief Executive Strategist Brian Suskiewicz (USA / Nicaragua), as well as other local dignitaries.

    As a proud partner of the AFC, Coaches Across Continents will continue to support the Asian Football Confederation in Creating Legacies throughout their 47 Member Associations. Other continuing post-disaster Legacy Programs include our partnership in Tacloban, the Philippines, as the community continues to develop following Typhoon Yolanda.

  • Designing, Developing & Implementing CAC

    January 9th 2016. The CAC team of sport for social impact experts are meeting this week in LA, USA. Yesterday was the first full day of the meetings between the team to learn from the 2016 successes and build towards an even better 2017. The Hawthorne Police Department have kindly allowed the team to meet in their conference rooms, following the development of our partnership in 2016 which aims to use sport as a tool to break barriers in the community.

    The meetings provide an opportunity to discuss all aspects of sport for social impact. On day one discussions included:

    • 2016 successes
    • The 2017 vision
    • The ASK for Choice gender equality initiative
    • The Self-Directed Learning model
    • Our revised and improved sport for social impact curriculum

    Over the next few days the meetings will cover all aspects of using sport for social impact globally to enhance the resources we can offer community partners, government partners and corporate partners. Later this week the NSCAA convention will be coming to LA. Two of the CAC team will be presenting on what US soccer coaching can learn from developing countries.

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  • Wind Of Change

    June 20th 2016. CAC SDL Coach Markus Bensch opens up on his background and the nature of global change.

    I was born in 1985 in a dictatorship. When I was four years old, people started to go onto the streets and demonstrated against the regime demanding free elections, freedom of speech and movement. On Nov 9, 1989 the wall between East and West Berlin fell and Germany’s re-unification process started. When I was five Germany was a united nation and my country of birth, German Democratic Republic (GDR), didn’t exist anymore.

    Without the effort and bravery of men and women who no longer accepted the situation they were living in, I am not sure I would be able to do the work I do today. My three oldest brothers were 19, 18 and 17 when they were able to travel for the first time in their lives to Munich, Frankfurt or Hamburg, France or England; to the “West” as people were saying in those days. My parents were 49 and 40 when the wall came down. They lived the majority of their lives in a country that didn’t allow them to say what they thought and to travel wherever they wanted. I was too young back then. I don’t consciously remember the re-unification, but my body and my heart have captured these moments, the emotions and the “Wind of Change” for the rest of my life!

    26 years later: A couple of weeks ago I watched a German program where they show cases of crime which they want to detect and with short films they ask the general public for help. They showed one case where a Muslim woman who lived in Germany, divorced from her husband, lost in court the care-right for the one girl-child that she was taking care of. The two boys that she had with her ex-husband where already living with him. On top of that the husband’s family gave her 6 months to also return the dowry (gold jewelry) which she wasn’t willing to do. After exactly 6 months some instructed men from the ex-husband’s family came to her home and simply killed her. To date nobody knows where her body is.

    This story made me angry and fearful. I thought: Now some Islamic based traditions have even come to Germany and undermined our freedom and judicial system. But then I realized that this case made me particularly angry and fearful, because it happened in Germany. At the same time I realized that this happens every day around the world to thousands of women. Why do I feel worse when that happens in Germany than if it happens in Iran or Syria? In this moment something slightly shifted in me. In future I hope I can feel the same pain and discomfort if somebody gets harmed, no matter in which part of the world it happens or which nationality the person has.

    I imagine 30 years from now, in two generations, I might get asked the following questions: There was this country where women suffered from Female Genital Mutilation (FGM)!? There was this tradition where women got married as they were still children!? There were people who expressed their opinion and got killed!? There was a country where every 17 seconds a woman got raped (South Africa)!? What did you do about that? How did you feel when you heard about that?

    I want to respond by saying: It made me sad and it made me angry. But most importantly I didn’t want to accept it and I was able to work for an organization called Coaches Across Continents which gave me the opportunity to go to these communities and listen to the stories of women who have experienced FGM or who have been raped or who survived a genocide. But I also got the chance to address these issues and work with local people who wanted to bring change to their community and end harmful traditional, religious and cultural practices. And I am happy to see that you young people don’t need to live in this fear today. I am happy that you have the freedom that you can wear, say, do and go wherever and whatever you want as long as you respect the freedom of your neighbor!

    I am very grateful to my colleagues, our volunteers, and the incredible participants that I was able to work with for being such wonderful people. I love working with you for peace and a liberating future! Thank you!

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  • A Unique Opportunity for Local Sustainability

    February 3rd 2016. Second-time volunteer, Marissa Segala, writes about our second week in Port-au-Prince with the Haitian Initiative (HI). 

    My second year in the dirt with CAC was equally sunny, warm and enthusing as the first. This time, we spent the first two weeks in city center Cite Soleil working with our third year partner program called The Haitian Initiative. The CAC model involves closely teaching local partners for three years and then allowing the community to take each program as their own; in accordance with the wants and needs of a community with which they are familiar. After an intimate first week with only the Haitian Initiative (HI) and other returning coaches, CAC was given the opportunity to observe as the HI hosted their very own week long clinic working with about 100 coaches from several surrounding community programs.

    It was a thrilling experience to watch the HI coaches as they took the learning, adaptations and creations to the pitch with their own pointed agenda. The CAC skills remained, but the interactive teaching and playing was uniquely HI. One of the coaches was quoted with confidence halfway through the week saying, “We’re so excited, because it really feels like we can do the work just as well as you [CAC coaches]” This may not sound like a compliment, but this is exactly what CAC loves to hear. Confusing, I know. Who wants to be told that someone else can do your job as well or possibly even better than you? Upon further reflection, I realized the underlying implications of this comment.

    The purpose of a CAC coach is not to be the best one on the pitch or the most knowledgeable relative to those around you, but it is to help create and foster an environment that promotes the growth and development of a multitude of great coaches and thinkers. The HI coaches demonstrated clear command of their own specific agenda, and they executed it flawlessly. It only makes sense that a program could run more smoothly when run by locals who understand the culture, language, people and the issues on a much more intricate level than any visitor could attempt.

    The CAC model has been executed perfectly by the CAC staff. They are able to provide an opportunity for coaches to engage with and showcase their skills. It indicates a special kind of success that is far more rewarding and complimentary of not just CAC, but all parties involved. I look forward to continuing to work for CAC as well as staying involved with the growth and success of the Haitian Initiative over the next several years. Until next time.

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  • Education For A Changing World

    February 1st 2016. CAC SDL coach Rubén Alvarado writes from Monterrey about our work there with Street Soccer Mexico.

    “When I was a kid, all my problems would fade away when I touched the ball. It was like entering into a dream, I forgot about everything, all that existed was me, my friends and the ball…like living in a different reality”.

    “La pelota no se mancha” (The ball does not stain) said Diego Armando Maradona, after admitting he had made mistakes and “paid” for the consequences in his career as a footballer. He made it clear that, no matter what, the opportunity for human beings to find their wonder through the game, remained untouchable.

    I heard the words that start this blog 2 years ago, in my first encounter with the concept that would enhance the transformation in my perspective on Fútbol: Sport for Social Impact. I attended a CAC training as a participant and heard my good friend Joshua Alí (from Street Soccer México) say them in such a sincere way that, even tough he might not remember that moment, they’ve stayed with me until this day. The Ball has the capacity to enable the creation of new realities, just like it happened to Joshua during his childhood. I wanted to play that game as well.

    “Look Hooch, there you can see El Cerro de la Silla (The Saddle Mountain)” I told my friend and SDL Coach Turner Humphries, with that eagerness one feels when wanting to to share a treasure (the beauty of my motherland) on our first day of training when we walked outside the High Performance Center of Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León, our home for the week. In the past two years we worked with Street Soccer México in México City, but for this year’s training they made a visionary partnership with the School of Social Work and Human Development of UANL (the largest University in Nuevo León). The two organizations aim to impact the life of hundreds of thousands of kids and youth in Nuevo León, México City and other states like Oaxaca and Chihuahua, through the professionalization of the work that teachers, sports coaches, social workers, leaders of civil society, etc. do towards transforming and healing their communities. Our participation in this project consisted in offering efficient and fun tools, practices and techniques on field that would complement the brilliant theoretical part that the University’s academic authorities provided for the participants. After completing the course, besides CAC’s certification, they would also receive the title of Entrenador Social (Social Coach) from SSM and UANL.

    During the training we worked with experienced participants in community sustainable transformation, including social workers, people from the state security department, sports for social impact coaches and social work and human development students. We dived into deep and rich moments of dialogue in which we reflected on how through every personal story (from the specific work everyone did in their communities) a larger, heavy on the back of the optimists and dreamers, social decomposition showed. The anger and sadness that people in Mexico feel about financial poverty, insecurity and violence equals their sense of incapacity to do something about what causes them. How do we, a group of people wanting to change that face of reality, deal with this scenario?

    Knowing what hurts does not help us identify and understand our problems and their roots, nor give us the capacity to solve them once we see and comprehend them. We agreed that sometimes we don’t know how to do it, and one of the best things that we can learn consists in knowing how to not know. When in uncertainty, what should one do? Not listening to the same voices that command reality as we live it today, we must come together, ask and explore, but mainly listen, listen to the Human Being before culture, tradition or duty, they said. CAC’s Education for a Changing World creates spaces where people acknowledge the unknowability of the future as something given, while at the same time develop perspectives, skills and behaviors that would enable them to create it. “The meaning of life is to make meaning of it”.

    Having come back to México helps me reconnect with the pain and the joy that the country, my country, experiences today. After a vibrant week with people that intend to become peace ambassadors in turbulent times, my feet feel ready to keep walking with them to create paths of manifest freedom in which The Ball doesn’t serve to step out of what impoverishes humanity, but simply, to celebrate the life our hearts whisper we can live.

    Punto y seguimos.

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