Our New Normal
23rd July 2020. After the COVID-19 global pandemic halted all On-Field education in 2020, Coaches Across Continents and our partners have been eagerly awaiting our return to Purposeful Play across the world – and on July 21st it was fitting that Nico Achimpota of Tanzania would lead the way.
This week was our return to On-Field programming, after a hiatus of 128 days due to the still on-going world pandemic. We have made some changes to our on-field delivery to comply with local and international guidelines, for example we are 1) seeking permission from local authorities in advance and making them aware we will be hosting training, 2) supporting our partners to provide washing stations and face masks to participants and 3) capping the number of participants at each programme to 30 to ensure we can safely distance whenever possible.
Whilst many countries are unfortunately still battling Covid-19, Tanzania has managed to return to their ‘new normal’ as of June 28th and have had no new reported cases since the 8th of May*. Tanzania is also a special place for CAC – we held our first programme there in 2008 and it is home to our first Community Impact Coach, Nico Achimpota.
In this case it was rather special then, that our first Purposeful Play programme in over four months was delivered by Nico in CAC’s home away from home. Nico delivered a three day Education Outside the Classroom training, which consisted of COVID-19 response, Child Rights and Environmental education, all using CAC’s curriculum and methodology.
CAC and our partners are in a unique situation, where the new normal will look different across all of the countries we partner in. It’s important we continue to work with our local leaders and experts, to deliver safe, fun and effective learning to the communities who need it most.
*accurate as of 10am 23/7/20
Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights in Tanzania
December 2019. In January 2019 CAC and Pathfinder International launched a partnership. The partnership aimed to deliver a pilot program in Tanzania to advance sexual and reproductive health and rights using CAC’s global expertise in play-based education and Pathfinder‘s global family planning expertise, as well as both organizations’ strong existing networks across the country. With Pathfinder support CAC designed curriculum around four locally-relevant modules: Knowledge of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Healthy Household Environment, Community Responsibility and Environmental Conservation.
In June 2019 22 leaders from 10 communities across Tanzania learned CAC’s Purposeful Play Methodology and Curriculum to achieve key global and local impacts identified by CAC and Pathfinder. Representing 31 different schools, organizations, and local initiatives, these leaders impact upwards of 85,000 young people throughout Tanzania. After the training in Zanzibar there was an 82% increase in knowledge about sexual health topics such as sexually transmitted infections; a 1.68 average increase in confidence rating in using sport/play to advance women’s rights and gender equality; and a 1.32 average increase in confidence to facilitate dialogue around key sexual health issues.
After 6 months of implementation CAC leaders and CAC/Pathfinder project staff, Nicholaus Achimpota and Fatma Said Ahmed, traveled across Tanzania during October and November, 2019 to visit, support and evaluate all active project leaders. They found that:
- Across Tanzania this project is directly impacting more than 5,000 adolescent girls, more than 3,000 boys, and more than 1,500 adults. These 1,500 adults have a further impact of nearly 85,000 people.
- After 6 months of implementation: 92% (compared to 27% at project start) of participating adolescents are confident that they could get their partner(s) to use contraceptives if they desired.
- And 97% (compared to 17% at project start) of participating adolescents believe they can seek sexual and reproductive health information and services if they needed them.
CAC has recruited an incredible team to return to Zanzibar in early December 2019 to record the impact of this project through the camera lens. As part of our film team we have professional women’s football players, key leaders from Pathfinder International, published authors, the founder of CAC and of course the amazing Tanzanian leaders using this curriculum every day in their communities.
I Will Be Strong!
July 28, 2018. Board member Dr. Judith Gates is with our team, back in Kigoma, Tanzania where we held our first-ever program ten years ago. #CAC10. #WhatsYourLegacy?
“I Will Be Strong!”
These were the final words I heard amidst all of the goodbyes, exchange of email addresses and chatter about selfie photo ops that invariably mark the end of a Coaches Across Continents programme. Teachers and coaches were jostling with each other and sharing plans as to how they were going to put all they had learned that week into practice. The group of students, identifiable by their green uniforms, were talking enthusiastically about new insights gained.
She came up to me. Tall and athletically built, she unexpectedly hugged me, kissed my cheek and said, “Thank you. I will be strong!”
My spirits soared. I understood what she was saying. I knew what she meant.
This week’s programme was to mark the 10th anniversary of Coaches Across Continents. Ten years ago the very first CAC programme was held in Kigoma, Tanzania. CAC had returned to mark this important anniversary. It all began here. From one programme in one country in 2008, CAC is now working in over 50 countries around the world.
All week, with Nick working alongside Nico as leader, the group had focussed on the challenging issue of Child Rights and Child Protection. Curriculum activities had included games in which participants had identified sources of potential harm, recognised the varying forms of abuse, identified who could be of help and which places could be considered safe. They had explored attitudes and expectations relevant to their local community. Teachers and students had shared ideas together during the games, but also worked separately to discuss factors which were specifically relevant to their age group or profession. They had then talked with each and demonstrated their capacity for understanding differing points of view.
I had led a discussion on abuse. I asked which form of abuse, physical, emotional, verbal or sexual, was most prevalent in their community. Hesitation was minimal. The vast majority of both teachers and students cited sexual abuse. Teenage pregnancies were high. Girls were forced to marry at an early age. Hunger and poverty led to girls being sold, or selling themselves, sometimes for only a bag of rice. The boundary between Child Rights and Women’s Rights blurred as they explored the reality of life for young girls in their community.
I asked teachers and students, each in their separate group, to think about what could be done, how things could improve. Acknowledging the problem openly was seen as key. The students suggested media reporting, government intervention. Their message was clear. We deserve support and help. Children should not have to experience these things. Teachers suggested education and parental involvement. Both groups wanted answers and action. The aspiration of the girl students was to complete their education and find a job, so that their subsequent life decisions were made from a position of relative strength.
The final words I shared with them were about personal responsibility. We can turn to others to make the changes we want, but we each have the capacity to influence in some way the context in which we live. I asked them to be strong. I asked them to contribute to the changes they hoped for.
I told them they each could be part of the solution, they each could contribute to making Kigoma an even better community.
And she had heard me. Her final words were of latent power, of commitment, of hope. “I will be strong!” That is the message CAC endeavours to leave behind, hoping that it will take root and contribute to locally desired community changes around the world. Another first for Kigoma!
~ Dr. Judith Gates
Reducing Teen Pregnancy through Soccer
On December 22nd, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Nicholaus Achimpota, from Tanzania writes about running a CAC program in Kigoma, alone. Nico is pictured above from another training he helped run in Pemba, Zanzibar.
My name is Nicholaus Achimpota. I have a Bachelor of Sports Science and Management at Ndejje University in Uganda. I have worked with CAC since 2008. In the last 10 years I have worked with the government as a sports officer in Kigoma, and for 3 years as the Chamwino district update.
My job is training and monitoring the sports teachers, conducting workshops and seminars to club leaders, acting as the assistant registrar of the sports association and clubs planning yearly sports programs in my district. I work with 120 primary schools and 28 secondary schools.
This week it was my first time to run the CAC program alone. It was not easy to believe that CAC would trust me to run the program in country, completely alone, without the leader from CAC staff – but they did!
I was very happy to have this opportunity and I want to say thank you to all of the CAC staff for giving me this work. This means that I opened the door for other CAC members to work in their communities without the direct on-field overseeing of CAC.
In the first day the participants didn’t believe what happened. During the introduction for the Sports Officer, Mr. Abdul, everyone was surprised that the program was being ran by me (Nicholaus) because the last year was ran by CAC’s Emily from America.
At the end of the first day one of the coaches, Anastasia Busumabi, came to me and she said “Coach Nico, we understood the way you taught and how to use soccer to teach social issues. Because of the language barriers, we have feared to ask questions in previous years.” Another teacher Singo said “By bringing you here, it means even us we can do the same as you”. Which is the purpose of the Community Impact Coach program – to empower coaches to be leaders and role models for other coaches in their communities.
The five-day program was based on how to use CAC games to prevent social issues specifically teenage pregnancy. So, we emphasized the games for conflict prevention, skills for life, HIV and gender equality.
The participants impressed me, and motivated me to do all the best to make sure they understood how to use soccer to teach social issues to the community.
It was very fun after four years to be back again to Kigoma and enjoy the nice food that they had to offer. Migebuka is the type of fish available at Lake Tanganyika and was my favorite during my stay. On Thursday afternoon I helped the teachers learn how to play Woodball.
To be honest it was a great experience for me to learn and share skills with teachers in my country. Moreover, I never forgot to sing with them the song “Amatosa” and different concentration games. Nothing is impossible under the sun. It is important that all communities benefit with the CAC saying “Smile and solve your problem”.
I am the first Community Impact Coach to run a program alone in Kigoma.
Many more will follow the way. Goodbye Kigoma.
Using Sports to Unlock the Conversation
June 9th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo blogs about working with the Ministry of Sport in Pemba, Tanzania.
From Unguja, Nico and I made the short trip to the island of Pemba (also part of the Zanzibar archipelago), where we joined Markus for the next week’s program. From living in Tanzania, I’d heard of Pemba to be one of the most exotic and remote vacation destinations imaginable: a remote tropical island, unblemished by the tourism industry that has overtaken parts of the busier Unguja island. When I told friends in Tanzania that I was to spend a week in Pemba, I saw the jealousy in their eyes, assuming that I was off for nothing more than a beach holiday. While it’s true that Pemba is among the more comfortable CAC program destinations, it, like any CAC program, is no holiday.
On Pemba, it is not uncommon for men to have multiple wives, many of whom are married as teenagers. The average woman bears at least 6 children. Though a man may have dozens of children depending on him for support, there are few economic opportunities available to make that possible. In keeping with religious-based tradition, women are sometimes not permitted to leave the home – the husband does all the family’s external business. For the women who do go out in public, it is unusual to see anything more than their faces and hands. Domestic abuse of women and children is seldom seen and even less openly discussed. Sexual abuse of children is known to exist in theory, but rarely traced to a specific person or institution (school, mosque, etc). It is safe to say that Pemba has its share of social issues – issues that, over the course of the week, our participants became more willing to acknowledge and discuss.
On Monday morning, though nearly a quarter of our 40 something participants had attended our program in a previous year, there were many among the remaining fraction of attendees who seemed unsure of what they had shown up for, some perhaps even a little bit skeptical of what they could possibly gain from the three of us. For some, tactical football instruction seemed to be the priority, rather than any sort of social impact coaching. But despite this, throughout the week, I admired the groups’ receptiveness to our discussion and their increasing willingness to listen and participate in the program. Of course, the curriculum itself is the key to opening our discussions and drawing people into the whole program. It is what makes CAC’s work possible anywhere: using something as fun and engaging as sports to direct a group’s energy to focus on heavier topics that, like sexual abuse of children, can be considerably less fun to engage with. The group began to appreciate the subtle ways that sports can be used to teach valuable off-field lessons. I observed several knowing grins and nods of understanding every time we pointed out the ways that the games reinforce using your voice, as the idea of encouraging children to use their voice seemed to be one that appealed the most to our group. At our closing ceremony on Friday, some of those who had been the least involved on Monday vociferously expressed their satisfaction with the program and their gratitude to the coaches for working with their group, and I was proud to have witnessed their transformations over the week. Though Pemba still has a number of social issues its leaders continually grapple with, I am confident that with every class of CAC participants, there are a few more voices in the community who have the confidence and inspiration to push for the changes they would like to see on their island.
ISF’s New Sport Court
March 17th 2017. We are delighted to congratulate our long-term Cambodian partner Indochina Starfish Foundation (ISF) on their new Sport Court thanks to Connor Sport Court and Beyond Sport (with a recommendation from CAC)!
The brand new futsal court was installed at their new football facility outside of Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It will be used by ISF to continue to empower disadvantaged children in the community through sport and education. They celebrated the new court by hosting a ribbon-cutting opening ceremony and football competition with more than 600 children in the U-14 and U-10 age categories. They also included an inspiring demonstration with vision-impaired youth playing futsal with special “chirping” footballs.
Coaches Across Continents has partnered with ISF to help them develop their capacity for educating youth through sport for 4 years including filming our documentary from there in 2015. It is always incredibly special to see our partners grow and better offer high quality programs for their community. We can’t wait to see the new court in person when we return to Phnom Penh in August this year.
This is the second Connor Sport Court we have helped our partners receive and build following the court in Kigoma, Tanzania. Thanks to Connor Sport Court for their ongoing commitment to building the capacity of organizations involved in sport for social change.