• 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.

  • All the Happiness Around Me is Worth Living For

    October 3rd, 2017. Community Impact Coach and Founder of Coaches Across Continents Community Partner Sparky Football, Tejas, writes about his time in Atambua, Indonesia with partner Increase Foundation and the Bintang Timur Football School.

    Our time in Bali was blissful. Every day at the field I could see the lovely kites flying in the mighty blue sky while it shared many reflections from the ocean close to us.
    As I wished goodbye to these kites and my new friends from the Bali program, I hoped to cherish something similar in Atambua with Bintang Timur- know as ‘East star’ in Bahasa!

    The small flight to Atambua gave me a rollercoaster ride. I experienced turbulence close to 30 minutes from the 1 hour flight journey. I even remember the woman who seeked air sickness bag in the flight- it was a rollercoaster in its own way!

    Atambua was very hot and dull as I looked outside the car. My location on the GPS muddled my thoughts and I said to myself, “I am very far from India”. I regained my sense of belonging when I arrived at the Bintang Timur academy- I saw a huge football field and a futsal pitch surrounded with many mountains. Alma, our coordinator from the program showed us the academy with a small tour. In the evening, I had the opportunity to share some of my freestyle football skills with children also got to play 11-aside football with them. After Sun went behind the mountains Emily, Frans, Alma and I sat down at the dining table to plan for the day one on-field.

    The Government head arrived an hour late delaying the morning session and some more with his speech. He said a lot about becoming the best football coaches but nothing he knew of the program being football for social impact. We turned that frustration into motivation for running the best social impact program possible. There were about 50 coaches, 4 soldiers and 5 Government officials in the hall. The session kicked off at 10am with Circle of Friends and all the coaches carried great energy in the intense heat. They celebrated ’ole ole’ and ‘mingle mingle’ for a long time but games like Marta for conflict resolution, know your rights, old Trafford tag were thought provoking.

    Alma was a great host; late in the evening he took us to eat corn. He has charming Italian accent for English. He spoke 8 languages including Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and some local. He was raised in Atambua, where once he was forced to be a church priest but escaped from the situation to be a university professor. The night at the dinner me, Emily and Alma shared our thoughts on the idea of religion and I was pleased to know that we all were to lean on the same belief that higher spirit is same for all and we share the same air, Sun, moon, water, star and things like that. This was some thought provoking to me in a way.

    On the second day, participants addressed their local social issues such as alcohol abuse, gambling, trafficking, stealing etc. Emily, Frans and I took responsibilities to adapt CAC games to help them solve/tackle these problems. I strongly believed that we three were a good team. Frans spoke less English but tried his best to participate in our off filed meets. He also supports us and takes responsibility in times like photography, airport check in, finding a taxi or a hotel. Emily and I call him ‘dad’ often for that. He always laughs at it!
    Some of the games which we chose to address their social issues were Gazza support system, Indonesia for choice, Say no to trafficking and Emily’s new dice game- it’s a cool one!

    By the third day, participants continued to sing mingle mingle as nasi nasi (rice) has their humming song. There was laughter everywhere and the expression of wisdom from the after game talks. The ambition to learn and to make a difference was quite evident. I see them has the change makers, very few of them spoke English but they listened to us, smiled often and participate with their entire being in the heat. While English didn’t help them much as a language they instead took pictures with us- a lot. I have heard somewhere that “We can’t build a society purely on interests but we need a sense of belonging” and I think this is what I found in here.

    After a intense three day coaching program, Alma had planned to take us and the academy staff to a picnic on the mountains which was a 2 hour drive from the academy. We went with the academy minivan and a car. The roads were slushy, curvy and hilly but the drive was very thrilling. As we reached the location, we could see the wide mountain plains and with a small hike, we were able to identify the border of the country, East Timor. The place was wide and beautiful. Everyone was excited and took a lot of pictures together. Surprisingly the staff had carried lunch for 20 people. We all housed under a tree and feasted the delicious food with the beautiful Mountain View.
    After we were back, we played some more football with children in the evening and settled for the next day’s agenda which was to visit two schools from which teachers participated in the program.

    In the morning, we visited Don Bosco and SMP Negsi School. The purpose of the visit was to meet the School head, watch the sport teachers implement the games with children and if they needed any help with it. They did a good job on coaching. As the sport teachers introduced us to children, Emily, Frans and I had the privilege to share our journey and the importance of education outside classroom. It was motivating to have us say this to them. I also took the privilege to showcase some of my freestyle football skills to give them a new perspective on football learning. I received some great response and cheer for this!

    The week was very tiring, however the sense of satisfaction to keep up the week productive and to make an impact in the Atambua community is a fulfilment.

    At the end of the day, I recapitulate the week in my mind- my heart fills up with all the sincere laughter and joy participants shared on the pitch. Sometimes, I miss being a kid and that little happiness from the PE classes in school.
    As we grow up things change, we change and start to like that way.
    My personal reflection is to love what I do every day and to be grateful for all the happiness around me that is worth living and fighting for.

    TERIMA KASIH (Thank You)

  • My CAC Experience

    September 27th, 2017. Community Impact Coach, John Rex Acuin from Football for Life, reflects on week with FundLife in Cebu, Philippines with Giuseppe F.C.

    When I was asked to join Coaches Charlie and Prateek to deliver the seminar in Cebu, not as a participant but as an assistant coach, I was so shocked but got very excited as well. I thought that this would really test whether I had learned from the seminar we just had.

    I left Friday night: Tacloban-Ormoc 7pm-9:30pm, Ormoc-Cebu 12midnight-7am. I arrived at Cebu Carmen around 7am and rode another van to the main city. I got in the venue at 11am, and I was 1 hour late. In short, it was a long journey to get there, but like the quote says, “It’s better late than never”.

    I had mixed emotions when I got to the venue. I was happy because there were a lot of participants, and at the same time, I was shocked because almost all the participants were older than me. Coach Charlie introduced me, and it felt good to be welcomed and introduced as one of the facilitating coaches and not as a participant. We then proceeded to the training. I just assisted them in the morning, but in the afternoon, Coach Charlie and Coach Prateek asked me to choose one drill to facilitate on my own. I got very nervous at first because I was coaching coaches that are older and positioned higher than me. But Coaches Charlie and Prateek helped me overcome those nerves. Truly, you will see how professionals they are, especially in delivering and interacting with different types of coaches. I coached the drill called Gazza Support System that focuses on different vices that can be acquired in the communities, like Alcohol Drinking, and two other drills – ‘Can Ballack see HIV?’ and ‘Ballack Goes to Goal’ – which both teaches about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.

    Coaches Across Continents really helped me a lot as a coach. They gave me more ideas on how I can conduct my drills and sessions. I also got the chance to share my knowledge and experiences to others. Most importantly, the whole CAC experience gave me another perspective in football – that football is not just a game but could be also a tool to teach children social issues occurring in their community and help them easily understand even the most complicated issues. Football can be a way of molding little minds to be better people. And, as coaches, we can be instruments of change to these children and their communities. Overall, it’s really a great and fruitful experience, and I would never say no to other opportunities like this. As I am already working with FundLife as a Football for Life coach, I can definitely use this experience to improve my performance as a coach. CAC’s work can greatly support our work here in Tacloban.

  • A New Experience

    September 26th 2017. Michael Johnson Young Leader Jamie Tomkinson wrote about working with CAC and The Door Albania in Shkoder, Albania.

    Our week in Albania was both an experience and a program I learnt a lot from and won’t forget in a hurry. We were living on a farm and were very much back to basics with no internet and being a 45 minute walk from the nearest city. Having grown up in the heart of Edinburgh, a busy capital city, this was a new experience for me entirely. We became accustomed to seeing 6 dogs, 4 cats, geese and even the occasional donkey just wandering past. I didn’t even need an alarm clock for the first time since I was kid, thanks to our friendly but noisy rooster family. And who needs a TV when you’ve got 6 dogs? They were a constant comedy show!

    We also had lots of fun On-Field. As this was a year 3 program, the participants who had been before already had a great understanding and knowledge around the games and knew what types of things to expect. We had a small group who were engaging and wanted to learn. My personal highlight from the week was giving them the time and opportunity to create their own games using their experiences and past knowledge of the previous two years, and then each of them delivering it to the rest of the group. It was encouraging and rewarding to watch them all give positive and constructive feedback to each other after delivering some great games.

    It was evident that this 3 year program has had an impact on these people, they were open-minded about the various social issues we discussed and had a real desire to make a difference in their own communities, using sport as a vehicle to do so.

  • Friendship and Partnership for CAC in NYC

    September 22nd 2017. CAC ASK for Choice Strategist Nora Dooley reflects on our program in New York with South Bronx United.

    I met Eric Saito, the Education Director at South Bronx United, when we were volunteers together in South Africa with Grassroot Soccer. Four years later we both find ourselves still committed to the spaces we chose next: organizations that believe in the potential of sport to be a powerful force of compassion and opportunity. We go about our efforts in different ways, holding onto the belief that collaboration and partnership can launch us into new and improved realities.

    So in 2017 Coaches Across Continents and South Bronx United launched a new partnership, spearheaded by that friendship forged across oceans years ago. We held the first On-Field training in August with leaders from the ranks of SBU as well as other organizations around the boroughs of New York City.

    Over the course of this week we played over 40 CAC sport for social impact games and covered a range of topics including immigration, racism, income inequality, gender, bullying, sexual health and stereotypes. We discussed different strategies of coaching in order to stimulate dialogue around relevant social issues in participants’ lives and communities. We also recognize that some players come to a soccer field to escape some of these issues – so we dug into methodology that allows coaches to create opportunities for players to solve their own problems on the field, developing skills that will transfer into other social spheres.

    The players in SBU sport and education programs are from marginalized and vulnerable populations in the South Bronx. Many come from families of immigrants if they are not immigrants themselves. At a time in the US and the world when finding innovative and collaborative solutions to addressing serious issues of discrimination feels urgent, it is an honor to be able to do so with an inspiring group of New Yorkers, in a city I have called home, and with a dear friend.

    Coming away from this week begs a few questions: How can we build more coalitions in the US – cross-community, cross-issue, cross-sector? How can sport for development programs hold more space in the conversations at the intersections of social justice, education and politics? How can we leverage sport as an artistic tool for activism, like so many already use visual arts, music, and literature?

    Lots to think about, lots to do… back to work!

  • Tbilisi – City of Culture, Poets and Passionate Coaches

    September 18th 2017. CAC Community Impact Coach Lorik Hartoun, from our partners GOALS Armenia, discusses her experiences during our work with Georgia Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs in Tbilisi. We want to thank the Games 4 Good Foundation for supporting Lorik’s trip to Georgia. 

    Almost every Armenian poet, author and intellectual has studied and been educated in Tbilisi in the 19th century and earlier. I have always wanted to visit this city and feel the culture and passion hidden within. I was lucky enough to be able to travel with Coaches Across Continents as a Community Impact Coach (CIC).

    As we were on our journey from Yerevan-Armenia to Tbilisi-Georgia, I had my list of places to visit and some information about the people and country. We entered the city and drove through the city center Avlabari, which is home to an Armenian community. We passed through cobbled streets and saw churches with different architectural styles. We also passed by Rustaveli street which was my favorite, because of its mixture of old stoned and column buildings and modern glass towers. Finally we reached our hotel.

    Our program was held and organized by the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs of Georgia. Almost 80 coaches representing 23 different disciplines registered for the program. It was very interesting to get to know people who are very similar to my ethnicity. Everything except the language was common and similar to Armenians. Even their comments, jokes, their love towards poets, culture and patriotism were similar.

    During the week-long seminar, I learned about the rules of different sports and exercises such as American Football, Frisbee, Baseball, Kudo, Judo and more. It was very inspiring to get to know female judo and other martial arts coaches. During the program we had a discussion about gender equality and their opinions towards it. It was a challenging topic and it was mostly the women who were aware of the positive consequences of implementing gender equality. I also learned that in Georgian the word for ‘mother’ is ‘Deda’, which means mother of Earth. The word for ‘father’ is ‘Mama’. It was very interesting to me that in Georgian the symbol of earth and empowerment is associated with the mother of the family.

    On the last day of the seminar we closed the program with a discussion about children’s rights and the characteristics of a good coach. I received positive feedback from the participants and they showed their willingness to attend the CAC seminar next year. I gained invaluable experience as a CIC during this program; I met coaches and made new friends and partners who would like to organize programs focusing on Female Empowerment. I want to thank CAC for giving me this opportunity.

    On the last night I had some very tasty Georgian wine, combined with lots of toasts and celebrations towards the connection of sport and peace. I want to make a toast towards this program of CAC and its growth and I hope it continues its efforts around the world. Puchka Puchka (Cheers in Georgian)!