• Blog 1 – Culture Shock

    April 11, 2018. Global Citizen, Abigale Gibbons, writes about her first time on-field with Coaches Across Continents while working with Fútbol Más Chile

    Before my departure to Chile and Peru as a Global Citizen, I had no idea what to expect. I have a passion for sport and using it for social impact—which is the reason I was initially captivated by Coaches Across Continents, conversational Spanish (more or less) and was waiting to see where the following weeks would take me.

    The first training was an eye opening and learning experience for me. The opportunity to finally work on an all female team, especially in the space of athletics, was (and is) an incredibly empowering feeling. I took the initial days to learn and absorb the process and planning it takes to host a training. (If you think hosting a training is easy, think again.) It takes a lot of research, intuition and understanding to properly run each session and it was certainly more intense than I imagined it to be. After hours of preparation, I was excited to see how all of the work off-field would play out on field.

    The first city we landed in was Iquique—a beautiful town with a beach that resembles Rio de Janeiro or the California coast on one side and blissful mountain deserts on the other. In Iquique and all throughout Chile, we would be working alongside CAC partner Fútbol Màs, a global organization that uses sport in communities to recover public places and create safe spaces for children to train and grow.

    For me personally, this first training was amazing, challenging and overwhelming all at the same time. After being so adjusted to my life in the States, the reality that I was now an outsider—who couldn’t properly communicate or understand the local language—quickly led me to begin to think differently, become more aware of those around me, have greater empathy and change my previous perspectives of what life is like for a foreigner living in a new culture, city, country and community.

    One of my greatest takeaways from this first training was how grateful I was to be welcomed, as a stranger, into the lives and communities of the participants and Fútbol Màs. I began to develop a clearer understanding that we are all humans who want to help each other, learn from each other and better our communities by encouraging new ideas and evolution from tradition.

     

     

  • 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.

  • Reducing Teen Pregnancy through Soccer

    On December 22nd, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Nicholaus Achimpota, from Tanzania writes about running a CAC program in Kigoma, alone. Nico is pictured above from another training he helped run in Pemba, Zanzibar. 

    My name is Nicholaus Achimpota. I have a Bachelor of Sports Science and Management at Ndejje University in Uganda. I have worked with CAC since 2008. In the last 10 years I have worked with the government as a sports officer in Kigoma, and for 3 years as the Chamwino district update.

    My job is training and monitoring the sports teachers, conducting workshops and seminars to club leaders, acting as the assistant registrar of the sports association and clubs planning yearly sports programs in my district. I work with 120 primary schools and 28 secondary schools.

    This week it was my first time to run the CAC program alone. It was not easy to believe that CAC would trust me to run the program in country, completely alone, without the leader from CAC staff – but they did!

    I was very happy to have this opportunity and I want to say thank you to all of the CAC staff for giving me this work. This means that I opened the door for other CAC members to work in their communities without the direct on-field overseeing of CAC.

    In the first day the participants didn’t believe what happened. During the introduction for the Sports Officer, Mr. Abdul, everyone was surprised that the program was being ran by me (Nicholaus) because the last year was ran by CAC’s Emily from America.

    At the end of the first day one of the coaches, Anastasia Busumabi, came to me and she said “Coach Nico, we understood the way you taught and how to use soccer to teach social issues. Because of the language barriers, we have feared to ask questions in previous years.” Another teacher Singo said “By bringing you here, it means even us we can do the same as you”. Which is the purpose of the Community Impact Coach program – to empower coaches to be leaders and role models for other coaches in their communities.

    The five-day program was based on how to use CAC games to prevent social issues specifically teenage pregnancy. So, we emphasized the games for conflict prevention, skills for life, HIV and gender equality.

    The participants impressed me, and motivated me to do all the best to make sure they understood how to use soccer to teach social issues to the community.

    It was very fun after four years to be back again to Kigoma and enjoy the nice food that they had to offer. Migebuka is the type of fish available at Lake Tanganyika and was my favorite during my stay. On Thursday afternoon I helped the teachers learn how to play Woodball.

    To be honest it was a great experience for me to learn and share skills with teachers in my country. Moreover, I never forgot to sing with them the song “Amatosa” and different concentration games. Nothing is impossible under the sun. It is important that all communities benefit with the CAC saying “Smile and solve your problem”.

    I am the first Community Impact Coach to run a program alone in Kigoma.

    Many more will follow the way. Goodbye Kigoma.

  • First Time Flying

    December 20th, 2017. Community Impact Coach and Online Education Program participant, Benedict, writes about his experience attending CAC trainings in India, developing as a coach in the OEP program, and traveling as a Community Impact Coach to Sri Lanka working with CAC partner Foundation of Goodness. 

    Little did I know, when I attended a training program in November 2016, with CAC that a few months later I would be given an opportunity to be a part of their Online Education Program. As thrilled as I was, I also was very anxious about the whole thing as I had no idea what the program was and the outcome of the program for me. All I knew was that I personally identified with the teaching methodology and the concept and that really excited me. As I started my journey with the Online Education Program I got to learn a lot, my teaching style changed the way I interacted with people – not only my players but even people of my community – and I started to feel more responsible towards society and youth. I had no idea that I would get an opportunity to go to other places or countries as a Community Impact Coach. When I was told about it, a little later after I started the OEP, I was thrilled beyond words as this is a major achievement for me and a dream come true. I always played sport and my community people considered me to be a failure when I didn’t get any employment opportunities through sports. It was at that time when I took it up as a challenge to prove that a lot can be achieved through sports. The opportunity that CAC has given me as a CIC empowers me to have so much pride in myself and in the work I do.

    When I received the mail about the sessions in other parts of India I was very excited and eager to join them. But it so happened that due to other commitments at work I was unable to be a part of it. I was really upset and felt very disheartened. I felt that my next chance to be a part of the training would be only next year until one night I received an e-mail from Mark that I would be going to Sri Lanka. At first I could not believe it! It took a while for it me to settle down. This was going to be my first flight experience and not just national but international….. I have always seen my colleagues who teach subjects like science, math etc travel to other countries on training and I always wanted to be the one to travel from sports for training as well. So when I saw my ticket, it was an unforgettable moment for me.

    Finally the time had come near and I got to meet Charlie, with whom I was to be traveling with. I worked with him for a week before we travelled and he gave me a lot of confidence in myself. I thought that we would have other coaches meet us directly at Sri Lanka but when I learned it was going to be just the 2 of us, I became really worried and nervous. That being said, Charlie made me feel very confident about myself. He gave me useful coaching tips and he gave me a lot of freedom to coach in my own style. This seldom happens in India we are expected to follow teaching methods of others and are not always allowed to be ourselves. He taught me how to maintain a journal of my daily activities and how to plan my sessions. This has all been very useful for me, and I have started implementing it in my regular schedules now, as well.

    Our Sri Lanka trip was not just all training and no fun… We had a lot of fun on the field and off the field. My off the field experiences are unbelievable as well. I accompanied a few volunteers from Foundation of Goodness when they went deep sea diving, though I didn’t go into the water myself just being in the middle of the ocean was an experience on its own. I felt like I was in a Bond movie doing one of the chasing scenes.

    This trip is a milestone in my carrier, I am using this as a tool to reach out to more people, both students and people in my community. I am putting to use everything that I have learned during this journey and I am looking forward to travelling on many more assignments. I want to thank CAC for giving me this opportunity and allowing me to learn from other communities as well. A special thanks to Markus for being a great instructor and a good support throughout the Online Education Program, and I’m happy that I came across a wonderful person like Charlie.

  • The Rose That Grew From Concrete

    December 14th, 2017. Self-Directed Learning Educator, Mark Gabriel, writes about his personal reflections from the week on-field in Hpa an, Myanmar with Football United

    The Rose That Grew From Concrete  named accredited to Tupac Amaru Shakur

    My friend’s dad once told me, “You never know the impact you have on people. Something you do now could impact them forever. You won’t know it and maybe even they won’t know it. Just live it, be it, and have faith.” These words have helped me understand my role as a Self-Directed Learning Coach and Process Consultant with CAC. I do this work because I believe that, by empowering community leaders to challenge the status quo and ask themselves, “Why do I believe what I believe?”, they are able to be the master of their ways. To make sure that any changes in mentality and behavior come from within the community, we as CAC only stay in each location for one week (and continue the year-round partnership from afar). I have oftentimes been asked if I really think anything can happen in just one week On-Field. My answer — yes. This approach allows for the community leaders to be the catalysts of change rather than looking at us to be. The only thing is… if there is change, I probably won’t see it. Change takes time, and that goes for anything. If you want to lose weight, or learn how to meditate, it takes time. And those changes only have to do with you! Imagine when it involves an entire community. Or an entire culture and belief system. Yea… it can take a while.
    But we are not here to be the change. We are not here to see the change. We are here to spark the change. As a Self-Directed Learning Coach, we constantly challenge ourselves and our participants to self-reflect. This in and of itself can be life-changing for many (it sure has been for me). Questioning oneself, one’s beliefs, one’s culture, one’s existence, is not a frequented practice, but yet its power is incomparable. Each program is unique in its own right, as are the participants. However, the impact of having them ask themselves the “Why?” behind aspects of their life stays consistent. Many a time, it is a first for participants to do such a practice.

    This week in Hpa-An, it felt much the same. Our participants ranged from players to students to coaches to wannabe coaches, and all were confident in their culture and how life goes in Hpa-An. As they should be! Who knows life in Hpa-An better than them? But once we challenged to think about life itself, and not just in the context of their home, the gears began to spin. Having them question when to award a team a point (do you award the team that finishes first or the team that does it right? Why?), the importance of competition, who can/cannot play sports, what are the differences between man and woman; these questions transcend any cultural norms but find people answer through their own perspective, influenced by their upbringing. Even as a facilitator of these programs, I still find myself falling back to my own culture to paint a picture of the world. Each program I lead, I find myself being challenged more and more to break my tainted perception. This shows us how much our nurture impacts our views on the world. Such realizations and the following inter-personal reflections are what will lead to change.

    As of right now, what will become of Football United in Hpa-An is a bit unclear as it is in the beginning stages. It would be easy to be discouraged by the lack of “impact” when looking at sheer numbers of trainings, numbers of coaches, number of players worked with, etc. But impact is much more than these quantitative measures. If our training led to one participant challenging her or hisself, the potential impact is limitless. Maybe I won’t be the change, or see the change, but maybe I hear of the change. One day.

    Did you hear about the rose that grew from a crack in the concrete? Proving nature’s law is wrong it learned to walk without having feet. Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams, it learned to breathe fresh air. Long live the rose that grew from concrete when no one else ever cared.”

    — Tupac Amaru Shakur

     

  • Believe In Sport, Invest In People

    November 22nd, 2017. Watson Fellow from Bard College, Harry Johnson working with Jungle Crows Foundation, writes about  joining us in our partnership with ChildReach Nepal in Dolakha. 

    I like to call myself a believer, but I wasn’t always one. Growing up in a low-income, single-parent household, it didn’t matter that I had good grades and stayed out of trouble; going to college was always much more of a dream than a reality. My coaches never seemed to see the world the way I did. They always seemed to have this odd fascination with “Life” and used every available opportunity to talk about it. It didn’t matter if a player’s grades had dropped, someone had missed practice or just simply messed up in a drill, the lesson following always seemed to leave the realm of what it took to be a great basketball player. You see, my coaches knew my community. They understood my slang; they knew where to get the best haircut in town and what things negatively affect the lives of youth on the daily basis. They were from my world. A world in which hope is hard to come by and struggle was even harder to escape. They knew who I was, where I was from, but believed sports had the ability to change this kid’s life forever. This kid being me, of course.

    Now, months after graduating from Bard College I am traveling the world searching for innovative ways in which sports could be used to combat a range of social issues. Through the first 3 months of my trip one theme has stood out above the rest and made me question the sports evangelistic views I once held. Through my first three months I have become more of a believer in the power of people than in sport itself. My trip to Dolakha, Nepal with Coaches Across Continents only further solidified this shift in perception.

    After an exhausting 8-hour bus ride, up the side of a mountain, a group of 12 coaches speaking four languages and representing 3 different organizations (Jungle Crows Foundation, Child Reach Nepal and Coaches Across Continents) sat around a table and attempted to hash out the details of what the first session would look like. I sat and listened to these conversations mostly interested in hearing about the “Self-Directed Learning” curriculum of CAC. Even though I got to see the curriculum put into action every day during the sessions, the dinner table debriefs shed the most light on what “self-direction” truly meant. While the conversation was usually started by Mark and Ashlyn from CAC, the coaches and young leaders from Child Reach Nepal and the Jungle Crows Foundation were pushed to lead the direction of the discussion. The coaches evaluated their own communities, highlighted the salient issues, and both adapted old and created new games that would be used as a vehicle to get youth to think critically about their communities. It was at this table that the coaches welcomed criticism just as much as they did an extra C-momo. While the pictures from the week may highlight how much fun the school-children in Dolakha had during the sessions with CRN, JCF, the moments that weren’t caught on camera were the most important. It was in these moments that CAC could work with its partners to ensure that the smiles you see in the recap picture are sustained for years to come.

    At this point in my Watson journey, it was amazing to have the opportunity to tag along with an organization that believes in sports, but invest in the power of people. It’s amazing because even though I may have been the same person I am today without the game basketball; I know I would not be in the position I am today without my coaches – coaches who could see a reality beyond my immediate circumstance, and coaches who knew how to help me see it for myself. Most importantly, coaches that were personally invested in my community and weren’t going to disappear anytime soon.