• How Can An Empty Beer Glass Stimulate Self-Directed Learning?

    CAC’s Markus Bensch blogs from Tarrafal, Cape Verde on our partnership with Delta Cultura.

    October 28th 2015. Can you imagine how an empty beer glass, a penny and a beer-mat can be related to Self-Directed Learning? Hopefully you will understand after reading this blog.

    It is Saturday night and Frederick and I are sitting in “Burg Pappenheim”, a Bavarian restaurant in Munich. We just returned from our program in Cape Verde and now we are celebrating Bayern Munich’s 4-0 victory against Cologne in the German Bundesliga that we witnessed in the Allianz Arena earlier that day. After many months I was craving some Bavarian food and Frederick, who is a local, took me out to this place. We finished our delicious meal and I am sipping my “winning beer”. As I look across at the table next to us I witness a boy offering a challenge to his friend: on top of an empty beer glass he places a beer-mat and a small coin. He asks the girl if she can get the coin into the glass without touching it. The girl simply takes the beer-mat, tilts it slightly sideways and the coin slides into the glass. She looks happy. The boy is astonished, but after a second he realizes what happened and says: “No, no, no! I didn’t mean like that. That is too easy. You should also not touch the beer-mat!” In the following minutes the two children try to find ways to get the coin into the empty beer glass without touching the coin nor the beer-mat. The whole situation makes me smile. To see these two kids makes me even happier than Bayern’s victory against Cologne.

    Change of location and scenery: just a few days before we are on Delta Cultura’s Football for Hope Center pitch and the coaches are separated into two groups. They are given tasks and they compete with each other to finish them as quickly as possible. First I asked them to keep the ball in the air and everybody has to touch the ball at least once. Both groups start to juggle and pass the ball to each other with their feet. It is very difficult for them to complete the task. Finally they succeed. When I asked them why they didn’t use their hands they said: “We thought we have to use our feet.”

    Is there any connection between these two incidences? I could say that the girl in the restaurant has simply better listening skills than the coaches from the program in Cape Verde. But I think it goes deeper and the situation in the restaurant made me again realize why I love the work I do and why it is important. I want to encourage people to question and challenge tradition, religion and culture. I don’t want them to just assume what might be expected from them. The boy and the girl in the restaurant were facing a problem and then tried to find solutions to it. The adults that were around them didn’t tell them how they have to do it or what the best solution is. I think this is the biggest difference between these two kids and the people in Cape Verde and many other places in the world. I want to encourage those people who live in places with a culture of authoritarian control to find creative solutions to their problems instead of repeatedly trying to make solutions work that they have been told to use. My work is challenging, but often also very rewarding. The coaches in Cape Verde are on the right track as they have been very creative while developing their own games during the partnership. Their games address important social issues in their community such as robbery, social inclusion and female empowerment. As it was the third year of our Hat-Trick Initiative with Delta Cultura the coaches are now able to create and develop their own curriculum which will positively impact the next generation of children.

    Who knows in 20 years I might go back to Tarrafal and while I am sitting in a bar and sipping my beer two children might be sitting at the table next to me and will use an empty beer glass, a coin and a beer-mat to develop their own little challenge.

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  • No Ordinary Days in Cape Verde

    CAC returning volunteer Frederick Schwarzmaier talks about year 3 of our partnership with Delta Cultura in Cape Verde. 

    October 21st 2015. Imagine yourself after a day of work floating on the pleasantly tempered sea. Above you, the sun is setting in a picture-perfect orange sky and from the corner of your eye you see green rolling hills and a quiet beach with several palm trees. It’s a privilege reserved for very few people. However, in Tarrafal, Markus and I were fortunate enough to call it an ordinary day.

    Unlike other programs, in Tarrafal we found an artificial turf with floodlights on top of a hill surrounded by mountains and the sea. This is one of 20 artificial pitches built across Africa by the FIFA Football for Hope Initiative associated with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. In this case Delta Cultura was the beneficiary. Delta Cultura, our local partner which we visited for the third time in our Hat-Trick initiative, is a local organization which runs an education center for primary and secondary school pupils in Tarrafal. Its founder, Florian, and one of its tutors, Gilson, helped us around the clock to quickly immerse ourselves into the new surroundings. With the many pupils at the site, we had enough participants to conduct any game.

    Great signs that promised a successful two weeks with the local coaches. But would the local coaches follow through on this promise?

    In our first session in the classroom we chatted about the participants` diverse achievements over the past year and the program’s outlook. It was great to hear that participants implemented certain games from last year in their communities or schools. Some participants even invented new games for International Women’s Day and Children’s Day. Beyond that, one participating teacher had organized a one-week activity at his football school where he addressed school drop-out and teenage pregnancy through Football for Social Impact. These stories were like music to our ears and strongly motivated us to practice on-field with the coaches. As with many of our programs, the issue of tardiness would accompany us during the week. Apart from the tardiness issue, we had found a perfect setting for the program.

    Nonetheless, the area that needed improving the most was having purposeful and efficient discussions. This became apparent during a game of “95% Football” – a game that combines elements of tag with those of football. It was just after I passed the goal line seemingly scoring when the other team started protesting – “A second ball was in play.” A tight group of ranting and flailing players from both teams had formed, The participants embarked on wild discussions without any valuable outcome. We stepped in to provide structure within the discussion. In order to find a solution, the teams decided to designate a captain who would try to find a solution together. A word and a blow – GOAL! The members of the team that had now conceded the goal were noticeably unhappy with the result, again loudly arguing and flailing. Reminding them that we had agreed that only the captains have the final call the turmoil quickly settled. Once more, they nominated a (new) captain to discuss the case with the opposing captain in order to agree on a solution in their favor. Despite the change, the captain of the team I was in must have had some good points because even the newly nominated captain consented – GOAL! Finally, everyone acknowledged the decision and we continued to play with the next dispute just around the corner. Eventually the participants had found a way to solve their problem peacefully.

    Next week we will increasingly focus on game development with the coaches. With a little bit of guidance, we are confident that many new and fun games will be created. For now, all signs point to a successful second week here in Tarrafal.

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  • “Let me do it myself and then I will understand it” (Confucius)

    November 2nd, 2014. Senior Staff member, Markus Bensch writes about his time in Cape Verde with Delta Cultura.

    I’m sitting at the international airport of Praia, Cape Verde and waiting to start my long journey to South Africa. After 7 weeks Off-Field my first two weeks back On-Field are about to end. I experienced a great program with 22 participants at the Football for Hope Center in Tarrafal which is hosted by Delta Cultura. It was the 2nd year of our Hat-trick Initiative with this organization that educates the children and youth in the community of Tarrafal to reach higher formal education and develop social skills. I was very happy that we could welcome more than 60% returning coaches who were very eager to do their next step in becoming Self-Directed Learners in football for social impact.

    The participants were very eager to learn many new games and actively participated in the conversations that very often caused controversial discussions. During the two weeks training we focused mainly on the topics Conflict Resolution, Alcohol and Drug Abuse as well as Children’s Rights and powerful female role models in football. Many conflicts in Tarrafal are still getting solved with violence by throwing stones at each other or hitting each other with them. The participants were very competitive which caused conflict in many games, even those that are not particularly designed for Conflict Resolution. I was very impressed how little cheating did happen in the games and if it happened, then people would instantly admit that they have cheated or do the exercise again to correct their behavior. We also had a very intense discussion about leadership and the question if anybody can be a leader and what makes a good leader. Both leadership and honesty are very important when looking for solutions, other than violence, to solve conflicts.

    Confucius’ proverb says “Explain it to me and I will forget. Show it to me and I will remember. Let me do it myself and then I will understand.” Following this advice we spent a lot of time during our training on coach-backs where the participants can implement their ideas and practice their coaching. Starting from the Friday in the first week, every day a different group of three or four people conducted a one hour session with social impact games for the children that spent the morning at Delta Cultura’s education center. Our 2nd year of training focuses on developing the participants’ skill of adapting our CAC games. I was very impressed by some of the adaptations that the coaches developed for their session. For example there was a group who changed our Gazza Dizzy Tag game. In this game taggers have to spin around ten times before they try to tag players in a set square which is obviously very difficult for them. It illustrates the negative effects of alcohol abuse on our bodies and performance. In the adaptation players were divided into different groups of 4 or 5 players lining up behind a cone ready for a race. Then the first player had to run to the cone which was placed a few meters away and run 10 times around this cone before he/she would return to his/her team and tag the next player that would go and do the same. Some players even struggled to finish the 10 spins around the cone. I liked this adaptation very much, because it allowed every player to experience the consequences of consuming too much alcohol or drinking at an early age.

    For the following year I hope the participants will progress with what they have learned during the two weeks and that the experience of conducting successful coach-back sessions motivates each of them to regularly implement football for social impact before we come for our 3rd year of training.

    I’ve got to go; they are calling all passengers to the gate for boarding. I’m off to my 38 hours journey from Praia through Lisbon, Amsterdam, Zurich and Johannesburg to Durban, South Africa to coach Whizzkids United and their coaches from next week Monday. This is the organization I volunteered for 15 months before I started to work for CAC in April this year. I’m really looking forward to the reunion with some of my old colleagues and I’m interested to see the progress the organization has made since I left. In June this year they finally opened their Football for Hope Center which means that another perfect artificial pitch is waiting for my colleague Kelly and me. That makes me even more excited!

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  • CAC in Portuguese Creole!

    IMG_1079December 23, 2013. Last week Coaches Across Continents finished our final programs of 2013. While one team worked the 2nd week on the island of Jamaica in the Caribbean we ran another program in Cape Verde, a collection of islands off West Africa. This program was ran with Delta Cultura, an award winning organisation who run educational after school programs for children and young people in the small village of Tarrafal on the island of Santiago. Delta Cultura, run by Florian Wegenstein, have an incredible facility in this disadvantaged area located in a picture perfect area. Their 8 buildings consist of classrooms, computer rooms, a musical area and even a carpentry workshop which local children visit to improve their educational attainment.

    They were awarded one of the 20 Football for Hope Centres donated by FIFA in conjunction with the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. This turf pitch has been a major change for Delta Cultura who previously relied on a dirt field with regular interruptions from cows and pigs alike. Thankfully Coaches Across Continents were able to use the FIFA turf field which provided a perfect setting to deliver our first year curriculum. Despite the language difference the strength of the curriculum was able to overcome any problems while local Delta Cultura coach Gilson Costa was integral in explaining games and writing the games for coaches in Portuguese. As ever the conflict resolution games were well received with coaches getting fully involved in the outcome of each game. Games such as the lines game and Marta for Conflict Resolution created many arguments which led to some great discussion about dissolving conflict peacefully.

    IMG_1097The program has allowed local coaches to understand that football can explain many social issues as well as improving players abilities depending on the sessions focus. With the clear passion and knowledge displayed by the coaches the potential for meaningful impact in Cape Verde is great. They specifically noted the games’ abilities to teach children to take responsibility for their actions and believed they could help discourage violence. Many coaches were also quick to point out there is no training of this kind available in the area therefore it is incredibly important. As we plan for the partnership between Delta Cultura and CAC in years 2 and 3 we are confident there will be no shortage of interest and impact by the local coaches.