• Pankaj’s Story

    CAC staff member Turner Humphries writes about a day in the life of Pankaj Mahajan, a Community Impact Coach from our long term partner Slum Soccer in Nagpur, India.

    November 20th 2015. Pankaj ascends from bed at 6:00 am, he washes his face, brushes his teeth and takes a small cup of tea before heading out the door. He borrows any moto available to get him to Nagpur’s city center for a practice session with fourteen year old boys and girls. He then departs for the Slum Soccer center in Bokhara – arriving around 7:45 am. He brings out all the football equipment that I will need for the on-field training and takes another cup of tea. As the clock closes in on 8:00 I reach the field. Having spotted me walking up the road, Pankaj has already retreated to the kitchen to prepare a cup of tea for me. As the program begins Pankaj is right by my side as he beckons the Hindi translation of the instructions I have given for the upcoming game. He then scurries to join his team to play; hounding attacking players with his insatiable appetite for a 50-50 challenge. After assisting me with my coaching session Pankaj sits down with the CEO of Slum Soccer to discuss an upcoming fair play tournament that he is in charge of organizing. Pankaj is hoping this tournament will give him the experience necessary to be a Young Leaders Coordinator for a Street Football World festival in France.  Following his meeting with the top brass of Slum Soccer, Pankaj sets about fulfilling his many Off-Field responsibilities. Emails must be sent, practices must be planned and reports must be written. Closing his laptop Pankaj heads back on the field, this time to observe and evaluate some of the Young Leaders of Slum Soccer as they try their hand at coaching games to local youth. Once the session is complete Pankaj makes his way back to the office to retrieve his trusted laptop. The lights of the office have been switched off, still he continues his work from home. Back at home another cup of tea is in order. With the last of his emails sent he begins refining his English skills with a booked entitled, Differences Between Mission and Vision. He shuttles back and forth between this book and the dictionary as he attempts to learn the words he does not understand. After dinner Pankaj mingles with friends and relative in his neighborhood. For an hour or so they listen to music and share tips on how to gain the interest of members of the opposite sex. The clock now reads 11:30 pm – it is time for Pankaj to go to bed. Before he switches off the lights he squeezes in five more pages of his book.

    Pankaj Mahajan is twenty-one years old and has recently become a senior coach with Slum Soccer. Just one year ago Pankaj’s circumstances were very different. After a battle with alcohol addiction his father committed suicide. Pankaj left college so he could care for his family. He began work painting houses and running a provisional store, earning around 1,000 rupees per month. His entire wage was going back to help support his family. As Pankaj shares his story with me he is calm and measured. Instead of being sad about the past he wants me to know he is focused on his future – I have no doubts it will be bright one. Pankaj is a Community Impact Coach with Coaches Across Continents. His hard work and dedication have made him a joy to be around, his sense of humor and genuine personality have made him a great friend.

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  • Opening The Door Into Europe

    September 14th 2015. We recently started our first ever Hat-Trick Initiative partnership in Europe with The Door in Albania.

    Coaches Across Continents is an organization with a long and deep connection to Europe. The founder, Nick Gates, is from the UK. We are a registered non-profit in the UK as well as the US. Over the course of eight years we have had staff and volunteers from across Europe and our current staff are citizens of places such as Belgium, Germany and the UK. We have developed many partnerships with other European organizations such as Peace One Day and streetfootballworld and regularly speak at and attend European conferences like Beyond Sport in London, Peace and Sport in Monaco and Trust Women in London.

    Despite this, we have never partnered with another European organization to implement our three year Hat-Trick Initiative. Until this year. We were delighted to accept The Door, from Albania, following their application as part of our Peace Day competition earlier this year.

    The Door is an organization based in picturesque Shkoder in Northern Albania. They have an extensive soccer academy including a girls team (one of the few in Albania). They also run a social integration program with local children and facilitate sessions every year to coincide with Peace Day on September 21st. In this part of Europe there are many tightly packed countries. Decades of conflict has forced great crossover between the many nationalities, religions and social groups which co-exist in the region. Organizations such as The Door, which promote integration and inclusion are integral to the ongoing peace in Shkoder, Albania, and the surrounding countries.

    We began our first On-Field week with The Door in unusual circumstances. We met the participants for the week at The Door’s eco-social farm which, despite still being in development, was home to many farm animals and a playground where children who are in need of a safe space visit. It was clear from the first day that our participants would not disappoint. They were all keen to learn more about how children can be taught through sport. This led to an impactful week during which these local coaches demonstrated not only their coaching ability but also their willingness to protect the rights of children and to improve their community. We observed passionate opinions on the problems in their community and the importance of sport, music and art in addressing these issues.

    The Door will be running a Play for Peace tournament in Shkoder to celebrate Peace Day this year. We made sure to teach a number of CAC’s Peace Day games which can be used to educate children taking part in the tournament about the issues of stereotyping, violence and discrimination. At the end of the week the participants showed great ability and passion as they coached some of the games we had shown them. It was our pleasure to initiate this partnership between CAC, Peace One Day and The Door. Having opened the door to Europe through Shkoder, Albania who knows where we could end up!

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  • Partnership with Peace One Day A Huge Success

    October 17, 2014.  Earlier this year Coaches Across Continents announced the largest partnership in sport for social impact.  Together with Peace One Day, we teamed up to supply organizations with a free soccer resource packet that uses CAC games to educate about peace and encourage the development of skill sets that lead to peace building.  On 21 September, these efforts came to the fruition when millions around the world celebrated and recognized Peace Day.

    Together with Peace One Day, Coaches Across Continents is using their One Day One Goal platform to use football as a peace building educational exercise.  Along with their other efforts, the goal for 2014 is to have Peace Day recognized by one billion people globally.  This first year of our partnership was a great start to spreading that awareness.  Overall nearly four hundred sport for social development organizations took advantage of this free resource to educate their communities on peace building practices.  These included organizations on all six continents, and they were distributed and available in six different languages (English, German, French, Spanish, Portuguese, and Swahili).

    The focus of this year’s celebrations was on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Great Lakes region of Africa (focusing on Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania).  So far in those five countries we have confirmation of the resource packet being used by 50 organizations to promote peace, with more coming forward every day.  Each of these organizations also held an event for 21 September, the International Day of Peace.  These include CAC implementing community partners as well as organizations who have heard about the power of sport through other avenues like StreetFootballWorld, One World Futbol, FIFA Football for Hope, and Peace One Day.

    Stories, pictures, and videos from around the world continue to arrive speaking of the incredible power that football has as a unifying factor.  Check out some of them on our Facebook page.  If you or your organization want to tell your story from Peace Day, please contact us at: or

    Celebrating Peace in Goma, Congo

    Celebrating Peace in Goma, Congo

    Celebrating Peace in Diadema, Brazil

    Celebrating Peace in Diadema, Brazil

    Celebrating Peace in Kenya

    Celebrating Peace in Kenya

     

     

  • CAC, Hofstra, Soccer, and Pelé

    IMG_9421April 13, 2014. Another weekend, another speaking event for CAC Chief Executive Strategist, Brian Suskiewicz. A return home of sorts, Brian spoke at the “Soccer As The Beautiful Game” conference at Hofstra University in New York. Before CAC Brian was Associate Head Coach for the Hofstra Men’s Soccer Team from 2004 to 2009, winning three CAA titles during those five years. To say Brian was happy to return is an understatement, but throw a football legend into the mix and words fall short of expressing our delight in participating in this event.

    Brian has a chance to share a few words with Pele

    Brian has a chance to share a few words with legendary footballer and global icon Pele

    One of the big activities of the weekend, aside from gathering the all-stars of the sport for development field, was to give Pelé, THE Pelé, an honorary degree from Hofstra. His ties to the university go back to his days as a player as the NY Cosmos used to train at Hofstra in the 1970s.  Pelé also spoke at the conference, noting that coming to play for the NY Cosmos “was the best thing in my life.  It was the best decision to come to play in the United States.”  He also noted that soccer is “the biggest family in the world.”  Brian was honored to have a few moments to speak with Pelé and thank him for inspiring generations of footballers all over the world.  A full video of his 5-minute speech on Friday evening can be found here.

    Besides his brief meeting with the global icon, Brian spoke on two panels during this first ever event at his old stomping ground. The first focused on “Football, Pedagogy, and Integration,” and Brian capitalized on this opportunity to detail our philosophy of self-directed learning. Brian partook in this panel with other academics in the field, sharing ideas on how soccer can change the world, creating self-directed learners based on Dr. Judith Gates’ Chance to Choice educational theory.

    The second panel shifted attentions to “Empowerment, Social Integration, and Soccer”, moving from the theoretical to the practical. Many familiar faces joined Brian as he spoke about our work on the field in more than twenty-five countries around the world. Friends and partners of CAC who also participated include Mary McVeigh from Soccer Without Borders – who we are working with in Uganda this month! – as well as representatives from streetfootballworld, Love Futbol, and America Scores.  The interested crowd asked dozens of questions varying from implementation practices to supporting global charities.

    We are proud to be part of events like this, honored to be among such stellar figures in our field of not only international development but also international football – nice to meet you Pelé! Moreover, we are proud because we are the global leaders in sport for social impact and these platforms allow us to spread awareness for what we do with the incredible local organizations we are so grateful to call our partners.

  • We’re Making Sports Safer

    January 7, 2014.  Coaches Across Continents is involved in an initiative to make sport safer for children. Joining the International Safeguarding Children in Sport Working group we are collaborating with more than fifty organizations around the globe to pilot a set of standards to safeguard all children participating in sport. Millions of children and young people take part in sporting activities across the world every day. Unfortunately, sport, as with other social domains, can bring risks such as violence and abuse towards children and youth. These risks can have a negative impact on development objectives and must be guarded against if the full positive power of sport is to be realized.

    IMG_0398Only a few organizations involved in sport and sport for development globally have the systems and structures needed to make sport safer for children, and stakeholders are increasingly recognizing that without deliberate efforts on the part of clubs and organisations, federations, and policy makers, we cannot be confident that children will always have a safe experience in sport.

    It is for this reason that we have partnered with a diverse group of experts including UNICEF UK, UK Sport, Keeping Children Safe, NSPCC’s Child Protection in Sport Unit, Right to Play, WomenWin, Swiss Academy for Development, Commonwealth Secretariat, Beyond Sport and Comic Relief, to commit to making sport safer.

    IMG_6970Brunel University have been commissioned by the working group to review the standards at the end of the pilot process. We are working with the this group of researchers to ensure that the final tool produced by the working group is useful and achieves the goal of making sport safer.

    Liz Twyford from UNICEF UK described the standards as a set of actions that all organizations working in sport should have in place to ensure children are safe from harm and should be used as a benchmark of good practice to work towards, rather than an end in themselves.

    At present there are eleven draft standards. These are to:

    • Write a policy on keeping children safe
    • Use procedures, personnel and systems that support safeguarding
    • Assess and minimize risks to children
    • Produce guidelines on behavior towards children
    • Ensure equity – ALL children being safeguarded
    • Communicate the ‘keep children safe’ message
    • Provide education and training for keeping children safe
    • Engage with advice and support
    • Work with partners to meet the standards
    • Involve children in development, review and implementation
    • Monitor and evaluate compliance and effectiveness of safeguarding measures

    Visit the sportanddev website to learn more about child protection and safeguarding in sport – http://www.sportanddev.org/en/learnmore/safeguarding/

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  • Coaches Across Continents Speak at Beyond Sport!

    photo (1)20th September 2013. Last week Coaches Across Continents’ founder Nick Gates spoke at the Beyond Soccer and Beyond Sport summits in Philadelphia. These summits, now in their 5th year, brought together all the key players in the sport for social impact field. This included our partners such as GOALS Haiti, Play Soccer International, Rumah Cemara, One World Futbol, Women Win, Soccer Without Borders USA, streetfootballworld, Thomson Reuters, Mifalot and UNICEF.

    Nick was invited to speak at a high level Monitoring and Evaluation workshop at the Beyond Soccer summit held at the PPL Park, home of the Philadelphia Union. He highlighted our innovative WISER reports and their effectiveness at providing us with quantitative and qualitative results. Following this the Beyond Sport summit at LOEWS Hotel, Philadelphia requested his participation in panels discussing curriculum design and model development. During these panels Nick discussed our chance to choice curriculum which uses a Hat-Trick initiative to create sustainable social impact at all of our community partner sites. The conference, which had over 1000 attendees over the 4 days, clearly understood that CAC’s model, curriculum and monitoring and evaluation system is one which should be publicised and emphasised for all organisations working in sport for social impact to learn from.

    Due to CAC’s status in the field we were also able to have representatives participating in other workshops which looked at topics such as sustainability, partnerships, branding and youth violence in urban communities. This led to admiration for our work with Community Impact Coaches who are able to have significant impact on their communities and our partnership with One World Futbol which is key to the sustainability of all or our programs. We were also able to engage and develop our links with UNICEF, Rumah Cemara, GOALS Haiti and Mifalot.

    DikembeMutombo.NickKeller.DonSmolenski.MayorNutter.ChristinaWeissLurie.BrianDawkins.BeyondSport-1024x840The conclusion to the summit was the Beyond Sport awards which included nominations for Rumah Cemara, Soccer Without Borders USA and a great win for Moving the Goalposts Kilifi in the Sport for Health Award category. These awards are particularly important for CAC who won best new project award at the inaugural Beyond Sport 2009. Best new project this year went to Sports for Juvenile Justice a Philadelphia Youth Sports Collaborative program. We were also able to enjoy talk on key issues from renowned speakers such as Brian Dawkins, David Stern, Dikembe Mutombo, Mayor Michael Nutter, Tim Shriver, Jeffrey Lurie, Will Greenwood, Loretta Claiborne, Tony Sanneh and Governor Ed Rendell.