• One Love: Harare, Zimbabwe

    June 27th 2016. CAC volunteer Carrie Taylor writes about her 1st CAC experience in Harare, Zimbabwe.

    When analyzing my time in Zimbabwe through Coaches Across Continents, I keep coming back to the idea of the incredible power of sport, and in this case the sport is soccer/football. If you can mention the name Messi, Marta, Ronaldo or talk about an EPL team, you can strike up a conversation with anyone and make an instant connection.

    CAC brought me to Harare to work with the wonderful coaches of Zim through the Sports Recreation Commission via Neswten Chipoya. Newsten was quiet yet very strong in organizing people. He did a tremendous job in bringing people together and creating connections. Our zany and energetic leader for the week was Nora Dooley from CAC along with Nico who is from Tanzania whose outgoing personality and his penchant for teaching wood ball was a hit with the participants.

    As a longtime coaching educator in the US, I have had a lot of experiences with working with coaches, so going in, I was very interested in how different the CAC curriculum was and how it was to be delivered from the typical US coaching course.

    First off I was blown away by the shear number and strength of the women in the course. I was able to meet Rosemary who was the former Zimbabwe Women’s National team coach, and a some of her former players; Lillian, Bridget, Dorothy and Elizabeth to name a few. Many of whom were returning to the CAC program for the second or third time. Then we had a group of 6 female teachers from Masvingo who travelled 400k by bus to come learn how to impact their primary and secondary students in their area. All these women were strong, powerful, outspoken and well respected by every man in the course. During the week through the CAC games and group work about Gender Equality, Child Rights, and Healthy Behaviors these women made sure their opinions were heard and that they garnered respect from everyone in the course.

    A few of these women mentioned above, then came together again later after the week was done along with other female sport leaders in Zimbabwe. Nora introduced the women to CAC’s ASK for Choice Curriculum.  These women met for discussions about first how to support one another in their challenges and second to start to form a Women’s Sports Leaders Group with the support of the SRC. To be apart of these discussions was great for me, as we have similar challenges in the US and I have been active lately in the growth of the female voice in soccer back home.

    Another one of the key people who not only drove us around all week, but made it a goal to make sure that we were able to watch the Euros at the local pub was Julius. Julius was the epitome of the power of sport. During the week we found out that Julius had lived recently and gone to school in Leipzig, Germany, was a PE teacher and coach at Cornway College, which is a private school outside of Harare.  Julius also was graduate of the University of Zimbabwe.  Besides liking Man U, 😉 Julius was a wonderful, thoughtful and kind host. He showed us the underlying passion, spirit and drive of many of the coaches we met in Harare. We were able to meet a few of his players during the week and very much saw the mutual respect and caring between Julius and the young men that he coaches.

    Then there was Wisdom, whose contagious energy, passion and zest for soccer was evident from the smile and joy he exuded every time you were around him. When playing a CAC adapted game that we would typically identify as “Partner Steal the Bacon”, instead of being given a number your groups of two were identified first by issues surrounding child rights, such as child abuse, child labor, early marriage. Then the game switched and your group was identified by a solution to the issues, such as education, or communication. Wisdom’s group wanted Love to be the solution.  This solution struck a chord with me.

    LOVE, and in this case our common love of soccer brought this amazing group of coaches together for a week. Love for our players, love for competition, love for the world sport of soccer. This experience was nothing like the coaching courses that I teach back home. Sure we shared your basic soccer activities for kids, but real social issues were discussed, and more importantly people shared their love and passion for the game and made friendships and connections that hopefully they will carry with them forever. I feel fully confident that each participant will apply something that they learned from this week and utilize it in their own environment. I will take home new friendships, a new dance or two, a couple words of Shona, and a much deeper appreciation for the world through love for the beautiful game.

    zim 26

  • Nick and Nora’s Infinite… Safari?

    November 1, 2013. Mpala in the backyard. Mountains out the windows. Giraffes on the side of the road. Hours and hours and hours of driving on dust roads. A dog named Gibbo (aka Nick), one named Evy (aka Nora), and another named Titch (aka Brian). Was our CAC team working a program or on a vacation in the bush? Could it be both?

    Unfortunately a safari was not on the agenda this week in South Africa but our coaches were certainly close enough to get a taste. Our partnership with African Brothers Football Academy in Cape Town brought us to a new location in 2013. As a favor to our valued partner, Craig Hepburn of African Brothers, CAC coaches Nick Gates and Nora Dooley ventured to the edges of Kruger National Park for a week of training.

    DSCN7861After meeting with various members of the local municipality in Bushbuckridge, a large community in the province of Mpumalanga, our coaches realized how much potential there was for a program like ours to take root. Our organization’s emphasis on local sustainability gives the community the power to decide how they want to make use of our services once presented with the necessary information. These meetings allowed our staff to clarify exactly what it is that Coaches Across Continents does in communities all over the world, and from there it was up to Bushbuckridge.

    The week turned into a formal introduction to our program for various smaller communities within the region. Hours of driving took us within 5 kilometers of the Kruger Gate to a town called Welverdeind, where Nick and Nora met a wonderful man who speaks the language of social impact and works at the heart of community development. After a short session with youth leaders and some local footballers, the CAC team was led to the town’s impressive youth center. Twenty-plus computers hooked up to high-speed Internet are among the many incredible resources readily available for the youth of Welverdeind to use at will. The staff was friendly and engaging as they discussed shared opinions on youth empowerment with our coaches. It was amazing to see the work already being done in small communities in the region, and this meeting provided us with a glimpse into the potential of a partnership with this youth center as well as other similar ones in the future.

    DSCN8001The bulk of the week was spent in two other small communities within Bushbuckridge called Casteel and Thulamahashe. Between morning and afternoon sessions we were able to run 3 sessions at Casteel for about 40 members of the village. The group consisted of high school principals, life orientation teachers, and football coaches, but the majority were women between the ages of 19 and 60 who wanted to learn how to coach football! Little did they know they were getting quite a bit more than a lesson in coaching. This group was great to work with, dressed head to toe in some of the best football kits our coaches have seen, and always ready with a laugh and a smile. Watching these women do Ronaldo Skills in their long skirts and dresses was by far a highlight of the week for our CAC staff.

    The third group we worked with this week was down in a town called Thulamahashe, which is just minutes away from the Private Game Reserve where both Nick and Nora have previously been on incredible safaris. The juxtaposition of the two experiences makes for quite a picture, one that the people of Thulamahashe and the greater Bushbuckridge community see every day as wealthy foreigners pass through their neighborhoods on their way to lavish expeditions in the bush.

    DSCN8012The two sessions we ran with local football coaches, teachers, and even a referee (the toughest job in the world), were with smaller groups of 8 and then 10, but were extremely fruitful. Both groups grabbed hold of the notion of sport for social impact and were an absolute joy to work with. One group was particularly impressive as we played our five Adebayor HIV games with them, and our CAC team felt that they could have continued coaching them all day. It was clear that this group understood the power of football and how we can use these games to teach people how to protect themselves from HIV. The group asked question after question, proving their eagerness to learn from our coaches and bring it with them into their lives in the communities they live and work in. We only wish we had more time with such an enthusiastic group, but again, the future is promising for Buskbuckridge.

    We will be in touch with all of our new contacts moving forward, and next time we will be sure to make room in our schedule for some sight-seeing in the Park, perhaps even bringing some new friends along for the ride.

    Nick and Nora would also like to thank their fantastically entertaining hosts, Dave and Julienne Rushworth, their 10 wiener dogs (namely Gibbo and Evy), as well as Gracie, Philippa, and Jackie, for their incredible hospitality during our team’s stay in the mountains. Cheers to new friends and the budding partnership with the great people of Mpumalanga.