Kicking Into Life
September 24, 2019. CAC staff member, Jamie Tomkinson, led our second year of Purposeful Play training with local partner, Palestine Sports for Life. He was also joined by Community Impact Coach, Marian Dubois, of the Fútbol Más site in Paris, France.
The CAC team have been in Palestine this last week – working in partnership with Palestine Sports for Life and Fútbol Más France, we delivered a world class programme for over 20 coaches, community leaders, government ministers and teachers from the United Nations. Taking into account the issues that affect the citizens of the West Bank, we decided to use our #PurposefulPlay curriculum to deliver a workshop that addressed UNSDG #3 ‘Health and Wellness’ and UNSDG #5 ‘Gender Equality’.
Specifically, we wanted to focus on Mental Health. Many residents of Palestine have difficulty with anxiety, conflict resolution and depression due to many factors. We played some games from our upcoming and new Mental Health Curriculum, where our discussions focused on 1) how our actions and words can affect those around us and 2) what we can do as friends, family and leaders to support not only children, but also other members of our community who are suffering in silence. The simple act of listening, for example, was mentioned many times and the importance of being approachable and simply being present, can make a massive difference.
A highlight for me was going to visit one of the participant’s local Kick-Boxing class for girls and young women. We were only supposed to be there for 45 minutes, but I found myself still there 2 and a half hours later laughing and learning – I got my own taste of #EducationOutsideTheClassroom, as these brilliant young women and girls taught me what life was like for them, how they’ve built up a commendable resilience, and with their Kick-Boxing skills, if they wanted to beat me up they’d have no problem!
Trickle Out Effect in Bhaktapur
December 14th 2016. CAC Global Citizen Dylan Pritchard discussed the CAC approach in Bhaktapur, Nepal during our partnership with Childreach Nepal.
This week, Mark, Tejas, and I were in Bhaktapur, Nepal, which is a city outside of Kathmandu, working with Childreach Nepal. This week was different than any other week because we worked with a majority of children. The way Coaches Across Continents works is that they will mostly work with coaches of the community instead of children, in order to make sure that the games and concepts they teach will last past the time they are gone and until the next time they visit. The way Mark puts it is that Coaches Across Continents partners with organizations all over the world that coincide with their message, which is to teach social impact through Self-Directed Learning in order to better their surrounding community. It is supposed to be a partnership that will last long past CAC is gone rather than an organization from the West coming in and imposing their dominance and insisting that their way of doing things is better than theirs year after year. With this type of approach, it gives the organization that CAC partners with a platform to customize their own curriculum that caters to the needs of their community instead of teaching a cookie cutter curriculum that has the idea that “one size fits all.” That is why I have enjoyed my trip with CAC thus far because they want to better the core of the community and have it trickle out to everyone else instead of imposing the idea that “West knows best”.
Although we worked with mostly children this week, we did feel that we made a change for the better. The way that Childreach Nepal wants to set up their system at their school in Bhaktapur is to have eight senior students be taught our coaching style in order to teach all of the younger children of the school. So this camp was composed of those eight senior students and about thirty children between the ages of ten and thirteen. Although the trainings were more for the seniors, we still had to coach children. I have done a little bit of coaching children before but man did I forget the patience you need to do it! Nonetheless, we calmed the kids down a little bit by the end of the week and they had some fun playing the games. The most important part is that we broke the senior students out of their shells and paved the way for them to become leaders in their community by teaching them to coach football for social impact through Self-Directed Learning. On top of all that, I felt that I got a little bit better with integrating the Self-Directed Learning of social issues while keeping it fun in my coaching. We also played a lot of fun Nepali cultural games such as kabaddi, which is a like a more intense tag game, and chungi, which is a rubber band version of a hacky sack. This all added up to an awesome time with the kids.
This week was an interesting week to say the least. I have been nursing a rolled ankle, which I did last week in Gothatar by stepping in a hole in the field, and on Wednesday I was diagnosed with Bell’s palsy. If you have never heard of it, it is a really weird virus that attacks the nerve that controls one side of your face and causes temporary paralysis to that side of your face. Basically, only one side of my face is working right now. I cannot fully blink with my left eye and when I smile, the left side of my mouth says, “Nope, not today.” Although it sounds serious, and I am not taking it lightly, it is more common than people think and it is only very temporary. It is only in my face and nothing else has been affected. Thanks to some family connections and the understanding of CAC, I have been given the necessary medical help I need to complete my trip because there is no way I am leaving early.
Despite having Bell’s palsy, I still had an amazing week in Bhaktapur. Bhaktapur is a very interesting city because it is a World Heritage Site, which means that the cities architecture cannot be altered in any way. Because the city still keeps its bagoda look, it gives the feeling that the culture of the people has not changed whatsoever. We saw everything from an animal sacrifice to the famous Five Story Temple, and in between that we played da cau, a hacky sack version of a badminton birdie, in Durbar Square where my idol David Beckham once played soccer with a bunch of school kids. The food was amazing and I was introduced to “chat.” Now my life or death Nepali vocabulary consists of momo’s, dal, bhat, chat, dhanyabad (thank you), and Namaste. Between coaching, Bell’s palsy, and sight seeing, I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Bhaktapur and thank CAC for the opportunity to come here.
Msimamo Standing Together
December 5th 2016. Blog post from Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania by SDL Coach Emily Kruger and Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo about CAC partner program Msimamo.
“If you are motivated to do Sport for Development by money, then you will not make the biggest impact. Your priority must be developing the children and creating social change.” -Omari Mandari
This sentiment drives Msimamo, the sport for social impact club in Dar-es-Salaam founded by Coach Omari at his neighborhood field in 2010. He had been coaching at a local chapter of Right to Play (R2P), and when it was shut down in 2009, he decided that his dream of using sport for social impact to improve the lives of children would not die. He convinced R2P to provide him with just enough funding to get his own organization up and running. Now in 2016, between five different locations, there are over 1,000 girls and boys participating in weekly trainings, each with a modest field where four to five coaches come together to lead.
We had the great privilege of working with the leaders from Msimamo every morning for one week, learning about their philosophies and practices while also sharing some of ours at CAC. Turns out, we are in sync. Massive heart: check. Imagining a more equitable future: check. Laughter, dance moves, loud voices, open ears: check. And above all, believing in the potential of children to make positive choices for themselves and their community: MAJOR check.
Omari and his team of coaches are developing great players and even better humans. We witnessed them use games to spark conversations with 40 boys, ages 8-12, about the negative effects of alcohol and drugs, where the boys can go to get help if their rights are violated, and the importance of creating inclusive communities. The attention of these young boys was held during each game, during each talking point because the boys had an interactive role in the session. Omari, Amar, Ally, and the other coaches were not dictating what to do or what to say, but instead allowing the boys to share their thoughts and express their creativity. The coaches even encouraged peer leaders within the group of boys to take on more responsibility throughout the session; they told us after that they hope to soon have peer leaders leading games entirely!
True to the quote from Omari, there isn’t any money in this for these coaches; Msimamo is a passion project. But because most of them have very little formal education, they do not have formal employment during the day, making Msimamo a tough operation to sustain. But they have an idea: a waste collection business. All they need is a truck so they can personally remove, sort, and transport waste from their community to the Dar-es-Salaam dump before they spend their evening coaching. In his characteristically heroic nature, Omari envisions killing three birds with one stone: making their community cleaner and safer, supporting the livelihood of each volunteer coach (some of whom cannot afford to eat more than one meal a day), and continuing his program to educate and develop the children of the community. It is downright inspiring and invigorating to see coaches who have such a passion for their work with children that they are willing to do the most undesirable of jobs to ensure the survival of their program. CAC must continue to stand together with the Msimamo coaches as they give everything they’ve got to the present and future of their communities.
Give Us A Problem… We’ll Address It With Sport
August 4th 2016. CAC’s second year partnering with Menelik Education in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Corruption is an epidemic with greedy claws gripping the international community. Sometimes it dons an invisibility cloak. Other times it stares you straight in the eyes. When corruption made itself abundantly visible to the ignorant members of the global football family, the beautiful game felt violated. So why not use that very game to stimulate dialogue on the issue?
The group of coaches is split into four teams. Each team lines up behind one of four cones equidistant from each other and from the center of the space. In the center lay scattered pieces of any kind of material – cones, bibs, balls, or anything (safe) that a coach can get their hands on. On this day we have cones and bibs aplenty.
The first task: one person at a time from each team sprints to the middle, selects one piece of equipment, brings it back to their team, tags the next person, and joins the end of their team’s line. Continue until all the equipment is out of the middle. Simple? Simple. 1-2-3-Go!
We have a mix of misunderstanding and outright cheating. We clarify rules – one person at a time, one piece of equipment at a time, and the next person must wait until they are tagged before they go. What’s the difference between making a mistake and cheating? Great – we’re on the same page.
Task two: This time each team has a goal of 6 pieces of equipment total and must decide how many of each type will make up the 6. For example they can set their goal at 4 cones and 2 bibs or 3 cones and 3 bibs. Then we will see which team has achieved their goal.
We allow the teams a few minutes. We hear their goals. We take away some equipment to ensure chaos. We test their concentration with some start-when-I-say-go-1-2-3-begins. We play.
We ask if they saw any cheating. They all point fingers at the other teams. We ask if anyone will own to cheating. A few raise hands. We praise their honesty. We ask why they think people, in general, are motivated to cheat? They discuss. We listen.
The desire to win at all costs. Because other people are. Because everyone else is.
How do you feel if you win by cheating? How do you feel if you lose but did not cheat? Why is the fear of failure greater than the fear of dishonesty?
Idea pause. Let’s play again. Do you want to play with or without cheating? Without? Okay let’s give it a go.
Third task: Same rules. But this time once all the equipment is gone from the middle you can begin taking stuff from the other teams. All previous rules remain though – one person at a time, one piece at a time, etc. If you want you can adjust your goals. One minute, then we play. 1-2-3-Go!
Good… gooooood… okayyy… niiiice… well done… uh oh… oh no… here we go…. OH MY CHEATING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Absolute chaos. Let’s explore. What happened?
Some more accusations. Laughter. Some honest reflections. Some delicious silence.
Cheating was infectious. Like corruption? How do people become corrupt in your community? How can you prevent corruption? They discuss. We listen.
The group of 30 coaches from Boma, DRC organized by CAC partner Menelik Education, was curious with a dash of skepticism that sport could be used to teach subjects like sexual health and corruption. After growing better acquainted with our methodology and several CAC games, we hope they believe in the power of sport. A power, like any, that can be bent towards destruction… unless we choose otherwise, unafraid to fail, praising honesty and vulnerability as we explore the chaos.
Sport Session Planner Win!
July 29th 2016. We are delighted to announce that Sport Session Planner has won the CSR/Cause Marketing partnership with Coaches Across Continents, valued at $37,000! This competition, which has been open for the past 2 months was incredibly popular however Sport Session Planner were the lucky winners after answering every question about CAC and our Annual Review 2015 correctly and being drawn out of the hat of eligible entrants. Sport Session Planner is a leading sports software company, based in the UK, with sales offices located throughout the world. Formed in 2011 by sports coaches and world class IT specialists, with over 20 years experience, they have grown to be recognized as one of the worlds leading sports software providers, with thousands of users around the globe.
As part of this partnership Sport Session Planner will receive a bespoke package of CSR/Cause Marketing support over the next year which will be designed, developed and implemented in collaboration with CAC. It will include naming rights for a Coaches Across Continents program in a location of their choice, brand storytelling and partnership promotion among many other things. This will help Sport Session Planner achieve their cause marketing objectives, deliver on their CSR commitments and maximize the return on their social investments.
Thanks very much to everyone who entered this competition. We appreciate your ongoing engagement with Coaches Across Continents.
A Train Heading North
June 24th 2016. CAC SDL coach Charlie Crawford writes about working with Breaking Ground in Ngaoundere, Cameroon. This program was supported by our partner Taiji Brand Group in 2016. Taiji have provided world-class branding and communications services to clients for almost 30 years. They have brought CAC’s work to life through our Annual Reviews, this website and our various logos and we want to thank them greatly for that.
Picture a train heading north. To reach CAC’s next program required a 14+ hour rail trip through countryside and jungle. Ngaoundere, Cameroon has many things going for it. One would be the appreciation that comes from arriving after a long journey. Another has to be how the region is built around a boulder topped mountain that gave the town its name, strangely accurately meaning ‘belly button’.
Our partner this week, Breaking Ground, is a Cameroon based NGO that specializes in using Football for Social Impact to address issues of Gender Inequality and Female Empowerment. Paul Zangue, Director of Breaking Ground, joined throughout the week providing camaraderie and much needed translation into French. After some weeks off-field, jumping back into work in a French speaking, primarily Muslim community was just what the doctor ordered.
‘Eggs-Spaghetti’ became a morning staple after realizing that a friendly street vendor was making vegetable omelettes with noodles and throwing it onto a French baguette for less than a dollar. France has influenced Cameroon to a strong degree. Nowhere (in my opinion) is that influence more reliably expressed than in a majority of meals coming with a crusty baguette. Someone once told me that my blog posts tend to revolve around food. I’d freely admit that. What experience isn’t highlighted by the meals you share and the people you share them with?
On the final day of our program the public field we were using as a venue became the grounds for an impressive cooking competition. With a dozen bright colored tents and scores of chefs preparing their stations, our space for the week took on a new vitality. Only slightly disappointed in not being asked to judge this competition, Paul and I set off for the station and moved on to the next program.
Picture a train heading South.