• Homegrown Leadership

    October 5th, 2017. Self-Directed Learning Educator, Emily Kruger, writes about her on-field experience working with Uni Papua in Sorong, Indonesia. 

    Now that CAC has existed for almost a decade, we have a handful of implementing partners who have been with us for many years. A few weeks with these coaches and leaders feels much different than time spent with a brand new partner. These humans have met almost every single CAC staff member, they have played almost every game in the CAC curriculum, and they have already made a deep impact on the children in their weekly programs.

    For us, the next progression is to challenge these leaders to do as CAC does and work with other coaches, which is different than coaching their young players. I’ve had this experience now in Haiti with Haitian Initiative, Cambodia with IndoChina Starfish, and again this week with Uni Papua in Sorong, Indonesia.

    Coach Frans grew up in Sorong, on the island of Papua. He moved to Jakarta in 2013 to study at the University Multimedia Nusantara, and soon after became a player on a Uni Papua team­­­. In 2015, he encountered the CAC curriculum and methodology for the first time, at a program in Jakarta with Charlie and Turner. He was convinced of something new: football is a tool with which people can learn off-field skills and knowledge. He was excited at the prospect of teaching about the negative impacts of abusing alcohol and cigarettes (as many of them were doing), about their right to good health and where to access care, about the positive implications of inclusion and equity…all through engaging activities with the ball!

    Shortly after that training, he was hired by Uni Papua as a full-time head coach. Throughout 2016, he began to not only coach his youth team but also to work with coaches. When he is called upon, he leads coach trainings for new Uni Papua chapters, where the coaches do not yet know about using football for social impact. We agreed that he would like to do more of this (for CAC this is what sustainability looks like!!) so for our program in his hometown of Sorong, the foreign CAC team took a major step back so that Frans could step in and be the leader he wants to be. His two younger brothers were at the training, his Uni Papua colleagues were at the training, even some of his former players were in attendance. From the sidelines, it was evident that they all look up to him. While I am not sure what exactly they were discussing (after 3 weeks, my Bahasa is still not where it would need to be to catch the quick on-field conversations), I could see that Frans was asking them thoughtful questions, challenging them to think for themselves and solve their problems as a team.

    At the end of the week, the participants expressed their gratitude for Frans and his passionate leadership, while I expressed my excitement for the future of Uni Papua…with homegrown leadership comes a kind of deeper, sustainable impact that a foreigner cannot replicate.

  • Shoutout!!!

    September 27th 2016. CAC volunteer Alicia Calcagni gives a shoutout to the coaches of Sorong, Indonesia and our partnership with Uni Papua.

    My shoutout this week goes to all of the coaches I have worked with in Indonesia. My partner, Mark Gabriel, started ending our sessions with a “shout out.” Which includes all of us standing in a circle while he screams, “I have a shout out,” and us yelling back, “shout out!” Then, he recognizes the exemplar leader of that day. After that, we huddle around him or her and do a cheer. This ritual isn’t designed to single one person out as the best, but to appreciate someone for being a good person. I have noticed it also drives the other participants to improve. For example, at our first session in Sorong we gave a shoutout to a coach named Aroses. We chose him because he came prepared with a notebook and wrote down every game played and the social impact of it. He also had an answer for every question, while encouraging others to speak up as well. Following his lead, two aspiring coaches came ready to play with a notebook in hand the next day. No matter the age, shining someone in a positive light (even for the little things) boosts their confidence and pride. Which has the ability to boost the confidence and pride of the whole group. Creating this ritual developed a personal connection with the coaches, making our differences fade away. Mark also started ending every session with a handshake. The coaches ticket to leave was giving us a high five and a fist bump. It is difficult going into a community as an outsider and talking about specific social issues, especially since we only have a limited number of days. However, these little acknowledgements builds trust and comradery. Thank you Uni Papua for embracing CAC’s work and making a difference.

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  • Welcome To Sorong

    May 4th 2016. Volunteer Jon Eisen writes about his time with CAC and Uni Papua in Sorong, Indonesia.

    After a week of coaching coaches in Jakarta, Charlie Crawford, the leader from Coaches Across Continents who had previously been working for two and half months in Africa, and I boarded a red-eye to Eastern Indonesia. Indonesia has more than 17,000 islands and is the 4th most populous country in the world. Jakarta, where we spent our first week, is essentially the New York City of Indonesia. We spent our second week, the focus of this post, in Sorong, a pleasant tropical town with beaches, palm trees and a more laid back way of life. We were greeted early Saturday morning by Frans and Rudolf, two of the local coaches . We spent the weekend relaxing and doing touristy things, like visiting the Buddhist temple, eating seafood and beaching it with Frans and Rudolf, as well as Nonce, the behind the scenes organizer. Come Monday, we were ready to get back to work.

    Quick refresher — Coaches Across Continents (CAC) is in the sport for social impact game. What that means is CAC uses football (soccer) as a jumping off point for conversations about social issues like gender equality, child rights, safe sex, and problem solving. CAC partners with local organizations, in this case Uni Papua, to put on week-long coaching clinics on how to play games that bring out these messages. After the program, CAC remains engaged with the local organization for at least 3 years, returning for training sessions annually. Charlie continuously repeated that we are not here to tell anyone what is right and wrong, only to discuss the reality and open up a discussion. Two of the most common phrases he says during games is “now, solve your problem” and “use your voice!” CAC knows that no matter what happens in a week-long program or even in the longer partnership, what the coaches coach is ultimately their decision. Our goal is simply to encourage critical thinking and speaking up.

    All that being said, this trip was CAC’s first time in Sorong. We spent three mornings at schools playing games with students and the afternoon sessions, with the exception of one, were predominantly dominated by kids. No matter what language is spoken or what life is like, one thing is for sure, kids love playing games. Even though it’s not the explicit mission of CAC, it was a ton of fun seeing the kids having fun playing games like Scary Soccer, a real life version of rock-paper-scissors and 95% football, essentially soccer without a ball.

    There was one moment that struck me as particularly powerful. It was during a game called Indonesia For Attitudes. For this game, we create four coned spaces on the field that represent characteristics of males. When we call out one of the characteristics, the players race to get to that particular space. After playing several rounds, we bring it back in and rename the spaces to represent characteristics of females. The social impact moment is when, at the completion of the game, you ask why did you pick the characteristics you did for each gender? Can a man be diligent? Can a woman be strong? What are the sources of our beliefs?

    During this particular game that involved only males, Charlie asked where these preconceptions come from. Blank stares. I’m not sure if it was a translation thing, a social thing or perhaps a combination of both. But it struck me that many of these kids may never have considered why they believe what they believe. Self reflection and thinking about one’s society is not always easy and fun. I think it is something that everyone all over the world, myself included, should engage in more often. This game, Indonesia For Attitudes, was a fun way to encourage this reflection.

    Interesting Side Notes About Indonesia

    • From the moment we left the hotel each day, people would shout out “Hey Mister!” and take our pictures. Charlie Crawford, the CAC leader for the trip, was used to the celebrity status of being a white person in a place with no white people. He said it would get old. It certainly was a unique experience but I will admit that by the end of the week, I, like Charlie, was looking forward to the anonymity of being in America.
    • Our final day was cancelled as the Commander of the Armed Forces, the third highest politician in Indonesia, was making a surprise visit to “Armyville,” the location of our field.
    • While not a lot of people speak English, the people are incredibly warm, open and kind. Everyone hangs out together outside of their homes. There seemed to be a very rich community dynamic. Indonesia is a great place!
    • Martabak Manis will change your life.

    Thank You’s

    So many thank you’s are due for helping me to be a part of this partnership. First, thank you to all my friends and family that helped me raise funds for Coaches Across Continents and make my trip a reality. Next, thank you to the CAC folks, particularly Charlie Crawford, the man with the plan, a human dumpster for all the food in Indonesia (literally all of it) and the leader of the programs; Nora Dooley for encouraging me to do it even though I know less about soccer than the kids we were working with; and Adam Burgess, who helped with my trip logistics and kept me on track. Thank you to our gracious hosts in both Jakarta and Sorong who made the partnership possible — Maria, Mr. Harry, Andi, Yan, the Salatiga coaches, Frans, Rudolf and Nonce. Finally, thank you to all the coaches and kids that participated. You guys are the heartbeat of the partnership.

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  • Little by Little

    October 13, 2014.  Kelly Conheeney posts her thoughts from our last program in Indonesia in rural Papua.  I am sleeping in a house right now in the middle of Maybrat, a remote jungle land overpopulated with stray dogs and banana trees. There is one road between here and the city of Sorong and we occupied all 240 km of it on our 4-hour drive in. I am convinced my life in Maybrat is the closest I will ever feel to being a celebrity. Kids scream “Bule” (“white person”) when we drive by and giggle when we say hi to them. After every practice session we exit the field in the bed of a pick up truck waving goodbye to the children that sat and watched our 3-hour practice session.

    I feel as though I’ve travelled back in time. Electricity turns on every night at 7 pm and shuts down at 4 am when the roosters and howling dogs start their early morning chatter. Cell phone service can be found at the top of the mountain if you have the patience and time to stand with your hand in the air and wait for a bar to show up on your phone.  What seemed at first like difficult living standards became quite comforting after long days on the field.

    Everyday is a new challenge. Both on field and off field In Maybrat I was taken out of my comfort zone.  Brian had me plan each session and run each game on my own all week which was new to me. A week that was extremely impactful and eye opening in my life and educational, at the least, for the coaches that attended.

    Papua has the highest rate of HIV of anywhere in Indonesia hence the reason we spent two full days focusing on the issue. Some people in Maybrat expressed the belief that HIV is brought into town by people who travel to and from the city of Sorong. It’s a valid thought but it seemed a lack of knowledge over the issue was the dominant reason many of the coaches placed all the blame on that one theory.

    On the 3rd day of training we played Adebayor HIV games with the coaches. Among these games we talk about the facts concerning the spread of HIV as well as the ways it is contracted, and the social stigma attached to the virus. When asked how HIV is contracted; an answer that may seem obvious to some, were not so obvious to the eleven 30+ year-old coaches staring back at me. Some of the answers we heard was why HIV education was a mandatory focus for the next two days for us; Answers that were all false and based more on myths than actual fact.

    It was a memorable moment for me when a little boy who was watching from the sideline jumped into our session, because the game calls for larger teams and our numbers were small. At first he was reluctant to join in on the conversation until he felt a brave voice inside of him tell him to use his words. His little voice very softly muttered under his breath. The coaches laughed and I wasn’t able to hear what he said until Jason translated his answer to me. He was right! The little 10 year old had said the answer I had been waiting for as to another reason how HIV can spread, “through your mom”. The other answers, including “Mosquitos, eating different types of food, sharing the same cup of water as someone else” are not ways one can contract HIV/AIDS. But rather through unsafe sex, sharing needles, and through childbirth/breastfeeding.

    I think the moment may have opened the coaches eyes more than it did mine.

    A 10 year-old knowing about HIV/AIDS isn’t uncommon to see around the world, but HIV education isn’t enforced until later in their lives. Some unfortunately never learn the facts. But it may have been a slight moment where the coaches realized the importance of sending the correct information to the kids so they are able to make educated decisions with their lives.

    The way I see it, Maybrat is an area of the world that needs time to grow. Little by little they will progress, and it will take time. It will take a foundation built upon strong leaders and a system like the hat-trick initiative for existing coaches to have a structure for their lives and be able to impact the lives of the future generation as well.

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