A Home Away from Home
I’ve been home for 19 days so this is a bit of a delayed blog but truly makes me more excited to write about about my second week in South Africa with Coaches Across Continents. I thank the staff for giving me time to write this due to personal circumstances because I still wanted to tell my story.
Week one in South Africa was truly eye opening. Changing locations was not easy after such an emotional week. I felt like I wanted to stay in Limpopo forever and continue working with the community. Through our travels though there was a good amount of time to reflect and start preparing for week two in Khayelitsha. We arrived at our new location and were welcomed by Marcus who would be joining us and Daniel who is the founder of training4changeS and the person who would be welcoming us into his home for the next two weeks (Yes, that meant taking in 5 people at one point). Quickly their home became ours. Daniels wife Kendra could not have made us feel more at home, and their son Sammi became our younger sibling for the week. I have never felt more welcomed into a house that was not mine.
I believe that you truly are only successful as the people you surround yourself with. Well that is why two weeks honestly felt so short. As me met the staff of training4changeS it became obvious how amazing this time would be. Not only were they more than welcoming but they were so excited and enthusiastic to get started for their third year. During this week since it was a third year program we did a lot of focus on technology. After we spent the day demonstrating games that could be influential off the soccer field we then started having them enter them to Sport Session Planner. This resource quickly became exciting to them as they realized they could enter their games, share them, and also search for drills that align with what they were trying to convey that week. Whether the participants wanted to use these drills for soccer purposes or for social impact in the classroom, this database quickly became a hit to use to seek more knowledge. I truly cannot express how grateful I am for the people I met through this process and for the amazing attitudes that were always present. As I said at the end of week two, the participants may have thought they were learning from us but I learned more from them than any education could buy.
August 10th 2016: Volunteer Lea Hinnen shares an emotional story from her time On-Field with CAC ASK for Choice partner training4changeS based in Stellenbosch, South Africa. This program was supported by the Games 4 Good Foundation. Names have been changed to protect the identity of the individuals involved.
In my last six weeks of volunteering with Coaches Across Continents I have heard so many stories. Crazy stories, sad stories, amazing stories and sometimes even funny stories. I’ve heard stories from participants and children stories of gangsters and gangs, orphans, discrimination and the lives in poverty. But no stories would get to me like the stories of rape.
In our second week with training4changeS we were located in the Football for Hope Center in Khayelitsha. We ran an ASK for Choice program with the male t4c staff and women from t4c partner organizations. It was a smaller group than planned, which ended up being the best thing that could have happened – and that proved on the very last day.
The participants prepared discussions they find important to address within their communities. One of them ended up being the issue of rape within the townships and all over South Africa. And that’s where the stories began…One of our female participants, let’s call her Nare, shares the story of when she was about 12 years old. She grew up in Khayelitsha and had a best friend, let’s call her Sara. Sara and Nare were like sisters. One day, however, Sara suddenly put her hand under her friend’s skirt… Nare was confused, didn’t quite know what was going on and asked Sara what she was doing. Sara said it was ‘normal’, her stepfather would do things like that to her all the time, he would even sleep with her. ‘That’s rape, Sara! He cannot and should not do that to you!’, protests Nare.
She tells her mother, who called social workers and Sara’s family. The stepfather denied he ever touched Sara, told everyone they were just two little girls making up stupid stories. Nothing happens and the abuse and rape goes on. Until one day Nare goes over to Sara’s place where no one answers the door. Nare hears Sara whimper and decides to burst into the house: She finds the stepfather on top of her best friend, in the middle of raping her. She cries, tries to get him off her, but he just threatens her in response: ‘When I’m done with her, you will be next!’ – that’s when Nare takes the knife and stabs him, grabs Sara by the hand and they run off.
Fast-forward a couple of months: Sara’s stepfather survived and ended up in jail for some time. When he gets released, he goes back to the house, rapes Sara and kills her. End of story.
Everyone is quiet. Nare is not the only one around the table struggling to hold back the tears – me and some other participants are right there with her. No one knows what to say. Everyone knows that there are too many stories like hers out there. Then Keke, a male t4c coach takes parole: ‘We as coaches can make a difference here. We have the responsibility to address that with our young, male players. We have to try to change this ‘boy-talk-culture’: A guy has two or more girls at the same time: everyone applauds. A guy says he didn’t use a condom: everyone applauds. A guy rapes a girl: everyone applauds. We, as coaches, as leaders, we can stop this. We can show them that these things are nothing to applaud for. Nothing any decent man should be proud of. We can make a difference here, and we have to.”
So I want to thank you, Keke, for turning the moment of a terribly sad story into a new, amazing story. And thank you for creating the chance to improve the stories of so many people we encounter everyday.
Games 4 Good Foundation
July 7th 2016. CAC is delighted to announce that we will be partnering with the Games 4 Good Foundation for the 2nd year in a row. This time we will be delivering our sport for social impact program with local partner training4changeS in South Africa as part of the grant. We will be introducing our new ‘ASK for Choice’ female empowerment curriculum to the participants in Stellenbosch from July 18th to July 29th.
The CAC and training4changeS partnership ensures that young women and girls have safe spaces from which to share their knowledge and express their own visions for their lives and communities. It creates an opportunity for girls to question harmful social, cultural and religious practices. The majority of women and girls are not even aware of what their rights are. This partnership will raise awareness and empower women and their communities to implement, respect and protect these rights.
In addition to ASK for Choice this partnership will have a significant focus on technology. training4changeS will have participants on CAC’s Online Education Program over the next 12 months. This will allow some of their key staff to remotely learn how to adapt and create their own sport for social impact games under the guidance of CAC’s experienced team. In addition, they will utilize CAC’s Virtual Learning Community which offers monthly Webinar’s on key topics in sport for social impact and organizational development. These elements of the project will be imperative to ensure it creates sustainable change in Stellenbosch. It will truly be ‘Education for a Changing World’.
We are incredibly excited about the potential of this partnership and thank the Games 4 Good Foundation for their invaluable support.
Help A Community In Need This Christmas
December 12th 2015. This holiday season Coaches Across Continents is asking you to help youth in at-risk disadvantaged communities all over the world. Throughout December we have been counting down (or up) CAC’s 12 communities of Christmas which you can directly support by making a donation on Firstgiving. Your donations are incredibly important to ensure that children in these communities continue to get the opportunity to learn about vital social messages and have the ability to take ownership of their own choices.
Sentani, Indonesia, was the 7th CAC community of Christmas. Indonesia has many underserved populations living in remote regions where few international groups offer assistance. Make a donation on this Firstgiving page to directly assist these populations through our work.
Kathmandu, Nepal was the 1st CAC community of Christmas. Support Kathmandu on this page.
Diadema, Brazil was the 2nd CAC community of Christmas. Support Diadema on this page.
Shkoder, Albania was the 3rd CAC community of Christmas. Support Shkoder on this page.
Leogane, Haiti was the 4th CAC community of Christmas. Support Leogane on this page.
Nagpur, India was the 5th CAC community of Christmas. Support Nagpur on this page.
Stellenbosch, South Africa was the 6th CAC community of Christmas. Support Stellenbosch on this page.
Zanzibar, Tanzania was the 8th CAC community of Christmas. Support Zanzibar on this page.
Lubumbashi, DRC is the 9th CAC community of Christmas. Support Lubumbashi on this page.
Keep watching our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates on CAC’s 12 communities of Christmas this holiday season. Don’t forget as we approach the end of the US tax year that, as a registered non-profit, your donation to Coaches Across Continents is tax-deductible. Our EIN number is 32-0249174.
Can I get a Whoop?
July 24th 2015. CAC staff member Nora Dooley writes about our extra time with training4changeS in Stellenbosch, South Africa.
A beautifully honest blog by my good friend and fellow Columbia ’12 alum, Mike Mazzullo, detailed our first week in Cape Town. It is an absolute treat to have someone from my pre-CAC life out here to be part of it all. And it is made even more special when ‘it all’ comes in the form of magic.
Working with training4changeS (t4c) is significant for various reasons. The main one being the first impression they made when I was there September 2014 to kick off our partnership. I’m fairly certain I ‘whooped’ when I learned I would lead the team retuning for year 2. The wonders of Cape Town and Stellenbosch naturally played a role in said whoop, but I have been lucky (understatement) to visit so many beautiful places in the past few years. The essence of this legendary whoop is credit to t4c – who they are and what they do.
The main portion of the training was excellent – launched by a big W for the women of the United States (WHOOP!), and capped off by some impressive coach-backs by the participants. But that was not the end of ‘it all’ for CAC and t4c on-field in 2015. This training went into OT the following week, and I can tell you now that this goofy blog will not do justice to what we witnessed – no words could.
With our extra time with training4changeS we were presented with an incredible opportunity. And we spent two days building up to the magic I allude to. We started off easy and discussed what we love to do outside of work and football/futsal, we learned more about each other, and we dug deeper into the issues the coaches and staff see in their communities. The coaches then chose one of these issues to unpack: corruption. What do we think of when we hear corruption? What are some of the causes, effects, and potential solutions? Now, let’s use this game we love to solve the problem – we small people may not be able to cure FIFA but maybe these coaches can be part of the solution for their community and the next generation of ballers. The coaches set off into three groups and each created a new game to teach about corruption. Once they were ready we went outside and group-by-group, they brought their games to life with young players.
The result? Magic. Corruption = Solved.
I left that session feeling like I could whoop for days. That^^^ is why we do what we do. Our partners are brilliant, the coaches we train are on another level of commitment, and they make our job ridiculously enjoyable and rewarding. To be even a miniscule part of what the t4c coaches and staff are doing in Stellenbosch keeps me going on this mad adventure I’m on with CAC.
Surely, you can set aside your pride, and give t4c your most obnoxiously heartfelt….. whoop !!!!
Beautiful Mountains, Beautiful People, Beautiful Game
July 15th 2015. Volunteer coach Mike Mazzullo, from New York City, joins fellow Columbia University ’12 alum Nora Dooley on-field in South Africa and Malawi. He writes here about our recent training near Cape Town:
The first sign that I’m a visitor to South Africa: it’s hard to stop looking out the window. There is no shortage of natural beauty. Landscapes of mountain and vineyards and ocean surprise the eyes at every turn. People buzz alongside highways, walking to work, selling wares, looking for a hitch-hike, and perilously crossing major roads. Different communities pass by, some idyllic, some not.
Each morning I’m sobered by the disparity between living conditions for the wealthy and the poor. It is hard to overestimate the gap between townships and suburban enclaves. I think of the homeless on Park Ave. Such inequality just doesn’t feel right.
We arrive in Khayelitsha, the location of CAC’s 2nd-year program for the Western Cape. Cars full of participants arrive and filter into the gym that is our home for the week. Good-bye to any sadness from the morning ride’s sights. Five minutes with the participants fill that space with hope and laughter.
The participants are a mixture of local community leaders and coaches. training4changeS, the implementing partner, brings their crew of seven coaches. Girls and Football SA brings four, all female. Dumi represents City Mission. There are many others, each with his or her own story and sense of purpose.
Every day a participant’s story floors me. Take Keke’s. His experience is all too common.
We are united by the idea that soccer can be a force for positive change in the world around us.
And the participants brought, along with their enthusiasm and football skills and jokes, problems from their communities. Let me talk about one.
Gang violence recurred throughout the week. People spoke of the allure of gangs in offering economic opportunity, how gangs can become a family for those who have none, and how gangs entrap children at a young age. These conversations carried glazed looks, suggesting firsthand exposure. It didn’t take me long to notice graffiti of “28” and “26” – prominent local gangs – marking some buildings and traffic signs.
…How can soccer deal with such an issue?
I forgot to mention Nora Dooley. She’s CAC staff leading the program, and happens to be awesome. Nora coached the game called “Say No to Gang Violence”. CAC had originally designed the game to confront human trafficking in Indonesia.
The set-up is simple. Each corner of the field (or gym) has a coned square box. These will represent what happens when you are “stuck” in gangs. Group discussion identifies the effects of gangsterism. It could be violence, theft, drug abuse, whatever the group thinks.
Next, the discussion moves to how gangs attract youth in the first place. Three “taggers”-people holding cones- represent the methods of entrapment. It could be involving kids in petty crime, the legacy of an older sibling’s involvement, financial reward and social status, whatever the group thinks.
The game is for the “taggers” to catch everyone else and send them to the boxes, which represent the harmful effects of gangsterism. It’s a pretty powerful image.
Next we talk solutions. Are there safe spaces, ways out of gangs, strategies for avoiding them in the first place? Lots of conversation and ideas.
Nora introduces cones and soccer balls as symbols of safe spaces/deterrents/escape routes – you can’t get tagged if you have the ball. Share the round thing and help others! It’s another powerful image, that football can save youth.
The game continues with more progressions, further confronting the main question of: What can we do about it? Ultimately the coaches and local organizations will decide.
One of the t4c coaches, Sylvester, imparted an African proverb:”If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
I think the mingling of various groups will have a long-term return. In any field – business, education, sport or whatever – ideas stale. One benefit of a CAC program is the ability to bring diverse people together.
Even nonprofits can succumb to one-mindedness, but these organizations of the Western Cape saw each other as partners and allies. The biggest divisions in Khayelitsha emerged over Man Utd vs Arsenal, Kaizer Chiefs vs. Orlando Pirates, Ronaldo vs. Messi.
And on the car ride back to Stellenbosch, again seeing the gamut of natural beauty and human experience, I thought less about passing strangers and more about the CAC participants.