• The Power of Acronyms

    May 16th, 2018. Coaches Across Continents Facilitator, Ashlyn Hardie, puts together a blog reflecting the incredible leadership and success of Community Impact Coach (CIC), Benny Marquis, and past Michael Johnson Young Leader, Jamie Tomkinson who recently lead a Coaches Across Continents training in Bangalore, India with CAC partner Parikrma Humanity Foundation.

    Stories like these are amazing. They are amazing because everything that Coaches Across Continents strives for is positive social change in the world – and not just for a moment, for a minute, for a year – but forever. Sustainable, positive change is why we do everything that we do here at CAC.

    So, why is this program so special? Why is this blog titled “The Power of Acronyms”? Let me explain….

    FIRST – Jamie Tomkinson was nominated by Coaches Across Continents to be a Michael Johnson Young Leader a couple years ago, and was selected! MJYL, our first acronym for this blog, is one of the most prestigious leadership training courses, and life-changing opportunities for young people all around the world. Jamie, once finishing the MJYL training, has continued to work with Coaches Across Continents (CAC – this one you should know) on multiple on-field programs over the past two years.

    NOW – Benny Marquis has been a CAC program participant in the past, but was just recently promoted to being a CAC Community Impact Coach! The CIC Initiative is designed by CAC to take stand out participants from our programs and further develop them with the Online Education Program (OEP) and On-Field professional development opportunities!

    AMAZING – So, back to sustainability. A couple of years ago CAC, nominated a kid to give him a chance for the MJYL program, and he thrived! He continued to travel, coach, and learn and has recently ran his own program, independently representing CAC with partner Parikrma, in Bangalore, India. Assisting him with this training is CIC, Benny, who is now able to apply all of his learnings from the OEP program on the ground. Not only this, but Jamie has connected CAC Partner Parikrma with his old sporting club, Spartans Academy, and they will be hosting a Girls Football Festival at the end of the month – so the good work keeps on going!

    Change is possible, and sustainable. People can make a difference, and their impact can grow. This story started with a teenage boy with a good heart, and now he is training community leaders around the world for the planets largest international sport for development non-profit.  This is what Coaches Across Continents is all about … ACRONYMS …. and sustainable development at its finest.

     

    Notes from Benny on the week: 

    “I learned a lot of leadership skills thanks to CAC and Jamie. I also learned how to modify the session in case of a larger group of students, and also how to use available resources – even if it is just a stone lying around – to conduct the session. Tough this was explained during the OEP in theory, I got my first hand experience at it this time on-field. I also got to learn more about two hour sessions, the number of games that can be included, and the kind of sport for education discussions that can be had.”

     

  • Chile, Cuatro Ciudades

    April 27, 2018. Community Impact Coach Lina reflects on her on-field weeks working with CAC partner Futbol Mas in Chile, alongside the rest of the CAC team.

    Iquique, Copiapó, Santiago y Concepción

    Durante esta experiencia de dos semanas, puedo decir que tuvimos (Nora, Abby y yo) el privilegio de compartir con personas maravillosas de diferentes ciudades de Chile. En cada desplazamiento se observaba los contrastes en sus paisajes, las dunas, el mar, lo árido, lo verde, las montañas, el frio, el calor y esto se reflejó en la fuerza de su gente con el “exceso de pasión” para cada momento.

    Durante las dos semanas pudimos trascender el deporte más allá de la alta competencia (Ganar/Perder), a través de juegos direccionados a temas de impacto social: inclusión, equidad, respeto al otro, interculturalidad, derechos humanos, educación sexual y medio ambiente. Al compartir metodologías se nos pueden abrir oportunidades para ampliar nuestra comprensión.

    Gracias por hacerlo posible, CAC, Ask for Choice, Fútbol Más e Inder Medellín.

     

    Chile, four cities: Iquique, Copiapó, Santiago y Concepción. 
    During this experience of two weeks, I can say that we (Nora, Abby and I) had the privilege of sharing with amazing people from different cities in Chile. At every move you could see the contrasts in the landscape, the dunes, the sea, the desert, the green, the mountains, the cold, the heat and this was reflected in the strength of the people with their ‘excess of passion’ for every moment.
    During the two weeks we were able to transcend the highly competitive nature of sport (Winning/Losing), through games directed at themes of social impact: inclusion, equity, respect for others, interculturality, human rights, sexual education and the environment. Sharing methodologies allows us to open opportunities to amplify our comprehension. Thank you for making this possible, CAC, ASK for Choice, Fútbol Más and Inder Medellín.
  • Cultural Differences, Cultural Development

    April 18th, 2018. Community Impact Coach, Lorik from GOALS Armenia, writes and reflects on her experience working with ANERA in Lebanon. 

    As a Community Impact Coach, I joined Jordan from CAC in Lebanon. On the third week of training, we moved from the seashore to the mountainous region of Zahle. The taxi driver who took us to the region was very kind and stopped every now and then to allow us to take some photos of the beautiful view. Later on, we arrived in Zahle; we were staying in the area of Maronite Christians, which was surrounded by statues of St. Charbel and Maryam. We descended towards the lower part of the mountain to Saadnayel, which is the beginning of the Muslim region – and where we were holding our training.

    The participants of the training were of different nationalities, including Palestinians and Syrians. They had different backgrounds, cultures, religions and beliefs. Seeing past each others differences is one of the most important factors in life skills through sport for social impact games. There were challenges in implementing the games because of cultural difference and the interaction of both genders; the problem was solved by using alternative methods – ex. tagging or holding hands through use of the bibs.

    During the first day, men were playing very rigorously during the games, which made women want to sit at the back and not show any willingness to participate. By bringing this issue up during discussions and asking for solutions, they agreed on equal participation. During one of the coach back sessions, the participants had set a rule where only the women could score a goal. This demonstrated good progression of the group.

    One of the participants who motivated me was a lady called Mirna, who was born with a disability because of the relative marriage of her parents. She is a Ph.D. student who is studying NLP. She is Palestinian and living as part of a minority group in Lebanon. Observing different kinds of discrimination, she spent most of her childhood in hospitals and at home. She overcame her isolation with the help of her psychologist by setting life goals. She is a life skills instructor, a psychologist, and a role model for many of her students.

    Obtaining experience in coaching different groups of cultures and religions allowed me to better understand their mentality, and it facilitated the sharing of ideas and knowledge. It was inspiring to see and meet different people who thrive to provide equal opportunity for their students and provide a safe space for them to express their opinions.

  • Having No Plan, Is Planning

    August 2, 2017. Global Citizen Nicole writes about her experience coaching and camping in Zimbabwe as CAC worked with World Parks, World Cup.

    In South Africa, a common phrase you hear is, “We’ll make a plan”. Typically meaning the current situation isn’t going as originally planned and there is no clear solution at the moment. In the States, it’s relatable to creating a “plan B” or trying our very best to “go with the flow”.

    The saying makes me laugh every time I hear it and I hope that I continue to use it when I get home. It makes everything seem OK and less urgent or threatening. In the grand scheme of things, that is true, things will probably work out.

    Our trip to Zimbabwe from Bennde-Mutale, South Africa was definitely one of these situations. While it only takes about 3 hours to walk from SA to the village we were staying in Zim, it was an 8 to 9 hour journey by car, inclusive of a large dried up river bed where your tires easily get stuck in the sand, intense border patrol on both sides & bumpy unmarked roads where the memory of various trees – that all look identical to me – were our compass. Yet, it was never of any concern, we were in good hands with World Parks, World Cup – and well, we made a plan.

    We arrived in Chishinya, Zimbabwe a little before dark, where the Moyo family welcomed us after our long journey. Chishinya isn’t on any map, at least that I’ve seen. And I wasn’t originally expecting to go to Zimbabwe when volunteering – or to be sleeping in a tent, camping under the Milky Way, building a fire each night to cook and stay warm, serving as a space to discuss religion, politics, relationships and all of the joys of life with my travel companions and the Moyo’s.

    In the end, Zim was one of the more rewarding weeks of my time volunteering with CAC. It had the perfect mix of the “expected” pieces of the program – coaching, connecting with people and fun with the kid’s. With the unexpected elements of magic that come along with a true adventure. I live for a good adventure! We experienced elements of life in Zim that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

    Mr. Moyo and his family were special; they were kind to us, naturally warm and loving, treating us like family from the moment we arrived. It’s a comfort you feel around certain people, an aura or energy they exude that can’t be faked. They were happy, loving people who opened their homes, for which I will be forever grateful.

    One of my favorite memories is the hat that Mr. Moyo wore every day with “Nicole” stitched into the front. Maybe it was fate that we were to meet. And as he said when we hugged goodbye, “we will all meet one day in heaven”. Whether heaven exists for you, it’s a nice thought and the most realistic setting for our next meeting.

    It is hard to say goodbye to people after you have become part of their everyday lives, even for only a week. And more so when knowing you won’t be following their Instagram account or sending iMessage photos of your daily life to them. It is unlikely that your worlds will cross again. Regardless, you still hope that they do and the reality is that you will think of them often for some time.

    Most importantly, it felt that we made lasting connections in Zimbabwe, with coaches, teachers and community leaders who were engaged in the games & the social messages that were pertinent to their communities. The beauty of the CAC program is the focus on sustainability, providing the participants with the skills and resources to teach and adapt the games as needed in their local environment.

    I look forward to checking back in on the programs that I volunteered with to see if the same people are involved and the progress that has been made over the next year. The work of CAC is powerful – both in the vision and execution. I am very proud of the time I spent volunteering and of the valuable things I learned. I have the utmost respect for those working in social impact. Thank you for letting me be a small piece of the team for a few weeks – I hope to be involved again soon!

  • Hello Santiago

    April 11, 2017. Community Impact Coach Nico Fuchs-Lynch writes about working with Fútbol Más in Santiago, Chile.

    Stepping into the Fútbol Más office in the heart of Santiago on Monday, I was immediately impressed by how well organized this partner was. Moreover, the enthusiasm that all of Fútbol Más brought to everything stood out to me right from that first day and did not let up throughout the week. At our first training session in Peñon, they proved that they are innovative and thoughtful coaches, never hesitating to modify games and always thinking of ways to connect the games to prominent social issues in Santiago. They truly made the sessions for them, not just learning CAC games and techniques, but incorporating and modifying them into their own methodology that they will use for many years to come.

    The next day, our session was in a park close to the Fútbol Más headquarters and one game was very useful for the Chilean coaches. That game was condom tag, a version of tag that simulates how HIV can affect a community extremely fast. The incorporation of safe zones and condoms as protection from HIV further showed participants how they could use this game to teach about sexual safety in their coaching. Many participants were fans of this game because they realized that sexual safety is a major issue in Santiago and games such as condom tag were ways they could raise awareness about these issues. After our training session, we had the pleasure of watching the Chile-Venezuela World Cup qualifier with Fútbol Más. 4 minutes into the match, Chile scored and cries of “Viva Chile!” filled the restaurant. A 3-1 Chile victory and delicious sandwiches left spirits high for the next day’s session.

    On Wednesday, we gave a talk on Self-Directed Learning. Many ideas were brought up about how to best empower kids to learn and create an educational system that puts kids and teachers at an equal level. Later that day, our session was located in a gymnasium in Maipu. Many local university students joined us, as well as the director of Fútbol Más himself. We played games relating to teamwork, creativity, and the power of negative influences. The director running like a cowboy in Circle of Friends is a memory I will never forget. On our way back from the session, we were introduced to a tasty Chilean snack, sopapillas. Eating these delicious fried pastries in front of the metro station was a perfect end to our day in Maipu.

    Thursday’s session was held at the stadium in Maipu. Despite the fire that was smoking in the distance, we discussed gender stereotypes and identity. Participants modified games, living up to the ideas they brought forth during the SDL talk the day before. After the training, we had an exciting 5v5 game with participants. One of these participants happened to be the captain for the Chilean National Dwarf team!

    On Friday, we returned to the same neighborhood where we began the session, in Peñon. Fútbol Más coaches shared some of the games they learned over the course of the week, adding in their own variations and describing the social impact behind the games. One coach did such a good job during her Coachback that she was invited to coach as a CIC during next week’s session in Antofogasta. It was a great ending to a week filled with great food and soccer in one of the coolest cities out there, Santiago!

     

  • Fight for Your Rights

    December 23, 2014. Volunteer Alison Pleiman details her final week with CAC in Nepal after four weeks with us On-Field in India.

    Namaste from Nepal, where CAC and Childreach Nepal combine forces. Upon meeting our partners in Kathmandu, we embarked on a journey out of the city and into the mountains for a week of training up in the clouds. Together we bounced 5 hours up rocky, winding roads through quiet village life and slowly transitioned into a calmer reality. Cutting around cliffs and sliding along streams, we passed farmers with their crops, cows, goats, chickens, and smiling children. Mesmerized by the nature all around us, it seems every turn brought a new breathtaking view. Gradually rising to 2800m in the Langtang Valley region, we arrived at our destination: Yangrima Boarding School in Sindhupalchok. This school was started in 1986, bombed in 2006, and rebuilt/reopened in 2009. This establishment has huge potential to impact the community, with many teachers and students traveling hours each day to attend.

    It quickly became clear that we were a great match with Childreach. Their current project ‘My School, My Voice’ is working to create a Child Parliament that gives young leaders in schools the chance to come together and speak out, seeking solutions for the main challenges they face in their community; Childreach aspires to cultivate a population of child leaders by increasing education and spreading awareness for child rights. Many of their objectives fit nicely into CAC’s self-directed learning model, so we were excited to work together this week and add an extra level of help through futbol.

    The main social issues identified at the onset of training helped us zero in on their top priorities. When the participants were propositioned to vote privately for what they felt was the biggest issue in their community, child labor was the resounding response, closely followed by corporal punishment. (Gender discrimination trailed just behind, as did child marriage and child trafficking.) Given this feedback, our curriculum this week would be devoted to child rights, in addition to our usual mix of games covering life skills, conflict resolution, problem solving, and health.

    Specifically targeting child labor and corporal punishment, this focus enabled us to have strong discussion throughout the week about types of abuse and their negative effects. For example, with our Right to Fair Punishment game, the winning team gets to choose the punishment for the losing teams– so after observing punishments become harder and harder, more physically demanding, we were able to talk about ‘when is it ok to be punished?’ Some responses were ‘when you make a mistake.’ Others were ‘repeat mistake.’ One participant tried to explain that beating is ok if kids are lazy and need a push. This opened the floor up for some negotiation. Does beating have to be the only way to get the point across? Fortunately someone suggested maybe by doing work around the school or extra activities, the child can learn the same lesson without the abuse. ‘One problem, many solutions’ is a key CAC phrase that everyone was shouting out by the end of the week. Also, they were able to experience how CAC uses dancing as a fun form of punishment in our games, as long as it’s not humiliating the child, and this new idea was very appealing to several members of the group. Mainly, these discussions allowed us to closely examine how some punishments can harm a child mentally and emotionally as well as physically.

    Similarly, our Right to Play game opened up the floor to talk about why kids should have this right. When asked why, the group had difficulty answering beyond ‘physical strength,’ so again we were able to address the importance of mental and emotional development, and why boys AND girls need and deserve the right to play.

    These are just 2 games among the many that were successful in widening perspective and harnessing the encouragement to ‘fight for your rights’. We covered a lot of ground this week with the help of our dedicated partners from Childreach. They were engaged every step of the way, showing their passion not just for the program but also for life. They were eager to share bits of their culture with us, and it was such a joy to experience the great stories, meals, and music with our new friends. Nepal is truly a special place with people as beautiful as its countryside, and I can’t wait for the chance to come back.

    It’s been an incredible ride with CAC– working together across India and Nepal in pursuit of social change. This opportunity has been a privilege that’s brought so many amazing people and so much value into my life, all in just a matter of weeks. Thank you CAC for this life-altering experience.

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