• Spreading the Love

    May 18th 2017. CAC’s Ashlyn Hardie writes about her first week On-Field in Harare, Zimbabwe with the Sports and Recreation Commission.

    For months now I have been working part time for CAC, taking care of all social media outlets, newsletters, and posting the blogs from everyone else’s travel adventures. Finally, after months of build up to my first trip on-field as a CAC employee, I am able to post a blog about my very own personal experiences! Although this trip is the first of many experiences for me, I can already tell it will be incredibly unique.

    Our partners, Sports and Recreation Commission of Zimbabwe, have put us up at the guest lodge of Prince Edwards High School. This all boys boarding school is incredibly well known in Zimbabwe for producing the highest quality athletes, and giving a wide range of opportunities for their students to succeed in their future endeavors. Not only this, but the campus stands as a little patch of peace and beauty in the heart of the noise and commotion of Harare. Within hours of being on campus it seemed as though we had made so many new friends. The hospitality from every single Prince Edwards staff member was more than Emily and myself could have asked for. Teachers that we had met would swing by our place to walk us to meals at the dinning hall, offer to drive us to the store, took us to a professional game, and answered all of the many questions we had about life in Zim. Our partners at SRC and the people of Prince Edwards made us feel at home from the moment we arrived.

    The program this week took place at the PE training field, approximately 30 yards from our bedroom windows. It could not have been a better scenario for us to be able to walk out of our rooms, and onto the field! Plus that’s the dream right? Living spitting distance from a soccer pitch?

    Although the people of Zim are all raised speaking Shona, they all also learn English in school. This absolutely minimized our communication barriers, which made for a relaxing, smooth week with our participants. Being able to truly hear how they felt, and sense what they thought about certain topics without a translator gave us a more genuine feel for how these coaches interpreted the social issues in Zimbabwe. I had never seen the up close CAC on-field conversations before this week, but it is hard for me to imagine having them go much better. Some of the stand out conversations from the week were about child’s rights, female empowerment, environmental issues, and an incredibly controversial conversation about HIV education and our game titled “Condom Tag”.

    It was clear that throughout the week these 40 humans from different places and backgrounds were growing together and really digging in to discuss the issues that are sweeping over their communities. As much as I would love to highlight those talking points for anyone who reads this, I think it is more important to share how it felt to be in the presence of those conversations. I was not one hundred percent on how the games would work, and what they would provoke in person, but they exceeded my expectations. There were moments where you could see a lightbulb pop off above someone’s head, where they realized exactly how to convey this message to their kids, moments when you could feel the passion people had for their youth and communities from the tone of their voice. There were moments, not one but many, where I found myself contemplating the differences between my life at home and the lives of those I have come to know and appreciate here in Zim.

    The people of Zim are faced with governmental corruption, poverty, a lack of resources for their teams, and other ongoing hardships on a daily bases. Through this they walk with smiles. These coaches are working with minimal resources for their kids, and still are willing to give everything they have to make their communities a better place. Even those hosting us, have their own struggles, yet have done everything they can do to help us get around the city and feel welcomed. Writing this makes me think of all of those walking the planet who have everything but find themselves unhappy or unfulfilled. I think there is much to be said about the people of Zim, how they approach adversities, how they work and learn to be the best for the future generations, and how they walk with smiles even in hard times.

    I have spent my life loving the game of soccer, knowing what it did for me, and watching it change the lives of people around me. Here, thousands of miles away from home, I watch it do the same. This first week solidifies all the reasons that I took this job, and all the excitement I have moving forward in my time with CAC. At the end of our week one participant stood up and thanked us. He thanked us for coming in and making them feel comfortable, like equals, and like their voice mattered. My immediate response was to thank him too, because these people Harare took in two goofy white girls from the United States of America and hosted us with respect, kindness, and laughter. Soccer is not just a game. It is a lifestyle, a teacher, and a hope. Soccer is love. And on that note, I am happy to say I have 6 more weeks of this trip to keep on spreading it!

     

  • On the Sandy Grounds of Maramba

    Community Impact Coach Frank Chivawura, from Zimbabwe, writes about his work with CAC and New Hope Waves in Livingstone, Zambia.

    July 5th 2016. The amazing thing about sport is that despite our differences, it brings us together. I was privileged to meet with Nora, Carrie and Nico, the CAC coaches at Harare’s Prince Edwards Boys High where they were facilitating a Coaches Across Continents (CAC) training in Zimbabwe, in conjunction with Sports Recreation Commission of Zimbabwe. The experience in Zambia would not have been the same without this vibrant group.

    It was a long journey from Zimbabwe, Harare to Livingstone, Zambia. Nico and I left for Zambia at 17:00hrs only to arrive in Livingstone, Zambia at 07:30 the following morning. This was my second time as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) but my first time travelling internationally with Coaches Across Continents.

    It was an exciting week in Livingstone. CAC was working with the New Hope Waves in the sandy Namatama grounds of Maramba. Being the second time as a CIC, the first time being in my country Zimbabwe, I had thought that all was going to be the same as the last time, but I was wrong. It was a different country, place, ground, different CAC coaches, and even the way the curriculum was delivered was different and more exciting.

    I had the opportunity to train more than 30 community coaches who were a delight to work with. They were passionate and very eager to learn more games.  What excited me the most was the feedback we had every morning when the coaches came to the field for training. From the day we started training with the few games that the coaches learnt, the games were already being implemented. Some of the coaches had teams they were training in the afternoons and the CAC games were already being used. It made me feel so warm inside. I felt so much confidence and it made me realise that it can only take but a few to change the way people think in life. Already, I could see change in the coaches. Coaches started coming early and could not wait to start training. And in the afternoons they implemented what they had learnt. All this made me recall this statement from one of the CAC leaders Adam Burgess, “being on the field when you see children and coaches smiling you know that learning is taking place”.  Coaches were smiling and so excited to know what was coming next which was a good sign. Even When Nora, who was leading our group, asked for the coaches to go for water breaks, on several occasions you would hear the coaches saying ‘no no let’s move on we need more games’.

    Nora made it all easy for me as she was supportive and was always encouraging coaches. Her ways of coaching were different and yet educating and very exciting. She made coaches laugh doing her cuckoo dance which was hilarious. CAC volunteer Carrie Taylor was calm and firm. She made the whole week wonderful with the unique way she used Children’s Rights in coaching games. And CIC Nico from Tanzania was full of fun. This team was great and I learnt a lot through each and every game they taught.

    On the last day of training during the coach backs, I was so impressed by the way the games were being adapted. One of the groups led by Musso performed the Children’s Rights game in a different way. They had four areas that represented different child rights and what was beautiful and touching was that the group changed the way the game was played and brought in hand ball. In the game they used hands instead of feet. The rule was before passing the ball you should first touch the ground with the ball then pass. The team would score points by receiving the ball in the grid and the whole team has to shout the type of right the grid represented together.

    I was very excited to be part of this group and am so thankful to the organizers of CAC who made it possible for me to travel to Zambia which made me feel important and useful in the community. Sports for social impact will go a long way in changing people’s lives. Though there is still a lot of work to be done in our communities, this initiative will help a lot of people, teachers, coaches and students play their part in their communities.

    DSCN0852

  • Eliminating Problems Within Communities

    CAC Community Impact Coach Frank Chivawura talks about his experience with CAC and the Sports and Recreation Commission in Harare, Zimbabwe.

    July 12th 2015. It’s so amazing how sport can be used as tool to reach out to the inner most being. I noticed people building so much confidence in themselves, as coaches aired out their views and comments during our discussions after a game.

    I believe each and every one of us is affected one way or the other by the things that happen in our lives and communities. With CAC games I realized that it’s only a matter of time that the problems within communities will be eliminated. People will get to know more about their rights and will have ways to solve problems without having to engage in violence.

    It was truly a wonderful week despite the cold temperatures. I worked with CAC coach Turner Humphries and volunteers Charlie and Ramon. They were a delight to work with. It was a very educational and humbling experience to be one of the few CAC Community Impact Coaches. I felt so happy and honoured to have been there helping other coaches, teachers and members of the community realize that football can be used for social impact.

    The program was held at Queen Elizabeth and about fifty five participants attended. I was privileged to have been part of the C.I.C. (Community Impact Coaches) which trained our own Zimbabwe Women’s National Team coach Rosemary Mugadza and some former Zimbabwe Women’s National Team players.

    There was a wide variety of games that taught of different types of violence and abuses against women and children. The days were packed with action and excitement, from morning to late afternoon. There were games like Can Adebayor see HIV, Stamford Bridge tag, Pick Up and Get Clean, which was my favorite game.  Most of the games focused on health and wellness, child rights and women empowerment. The games taught solving problems without violence which I noticed was so much helpful to the coaches as they came to realize that so many ways can be used to resolve conflicts without having to use violent ways.

    Our program ended with the presentation of certificates. I enjoyed the whole experience. It taught me that despite our differences in races and backgrounds, we can still work together for a common goal.

    Many thanks go to the Sports and Recreation Commission and Coaches Across Continents for making this program a resounding success. And I look forward to be part of another exciting CAC program.

    You have no idea how many lives CAC has changed, keep up the good work.

    DSC_0156