• Rohingya Refugees and UN SDGs

    Over 900,000 Rohingya refugees are now living in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. This is 3x bigger than any other refugee camp in the world.  Starting last year, renewed violence including reports of rape, murder, and arson forced nearly all the Rohingya people living in the Rakhine state of Myanmar to flee to neighboring Bangladesh, and instantly fracturing their society.

    Imagine all the people living in Austin, Texas fleeing en masse with no possessions, money, or communication – with family & friends permanently separated… or worse.

    The UNHCR has taken the monumental task to lead the care for this population, including feeding, housing, and other basic needs. But these services only address so much. Refugees are coming from an instantly fractured society and arriving at a place where they might not know anyone.  Many have been permanently separated from families, neighbors, and friends.  Individuals, especially children, single women, the elderly, and the disabled are at increased vulnerability to suffer additional harm. It is here that other organizations, oftentimes NGOs, look to work with the UNHCR to provide vital services including Community Based Protection.

    Coaches Across Continents, supported by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), have started a 6-month pilot program to use football to create Community Based Protection.  Our program is using football to rebuild that fabric of society, and those networks, so that people are able to care for their families, their new neighbors, and each other – so that everyone is better supported and better protected, and therefore at reduced risk for experiencing additional harm.

    Our On-Field interview with Adam Nord (UNHCR Community Based Protection) explains this concept further in this 3+ minute video.

    “I see that this program… is a very important part of this as well.  It’s about using a very strong community-based approach to train new young refugee coaches who are then going to go back into their community to work with and to support other youth / other individuals in a way that engages and strengthens those society ties.  That’s complimented within CAC’s trainings on child protection, violence, and other issues, allows them then to engage through sports… in discussing those issues that are affecting their communities”

    “It’s an excellent example of a community based approach”     – Adam Nord, UNHCR Child Protection

    Over the course of the 6-month pilot supported by the AFC, Coaches Across Continents has trained 75 local Rohingya refugees to become soccer coaches across 25 different camps/districts within Cox’s Bazar. Equipment has been provided by the AFC and BFF so that they can engage boys and girls in their community on a weekly basis, and begin to impact some of the 500,000 children under the age of 17 living in the camps.  Throughout the year the newly minted coaches will receive communication, mentoring, and support from the BFF and CAC.  The 6-month pilot will culminate with a Football Fun Festival in May, 2019, with an eye towards continuing and expanding this program as funding allows.

    To support or learn more about this initiative, please contact CAC Chief Executive Brian Suskiewicz at

  • Driving Social Impact Through Sport

    September 20th 2017. CAC program participant and coach JohnPaul McTheophilus wrote about experiencing CAC for the first time in Bali, Indonesia with Uni Papua.

    I had never heard of ‘Coaches Across Continents (CAC)’ until last week when my friend (Bationo) invited me to take part in a 5 day Coaching Clinic by CAC. So, I looked up on the internet and a quick glance at their website raised my curiosity.

    As a football player I’ve had the opportunity to work with different coaches at training grounds and listen to all kinds of tactical instructions,  and motivational speeches on the sidelines as well as in the dressing rooms. I’m always fascinated at how these coaches create their programs and plans that keep players physically and mentally fit to perform at the highest level. So, my view of football has always been on the professional level. I’ve never looked at football as an important tool to drive a social impact movement.

    First, I was happy and motivated to work and learn from people who are genuinely happy in what they do and are committed to helping others especially young people. From Emily’s enthusiasm and excitement, and Tejas’ creativity, the atmosphere was positive and there was never a dull moment. I witnessed the essence of using football as a tool to develop coaches and kids to become critical thinkers.

    Innovative ideas were shared through drills and games like:
    – Circle of Friends
    – Mingle-Mingle
    – Marta for Conflict Resolution
    – Messi For Healthy and Awareness
    – Gaza Support System
    – Stamford Bridge Tag,
    – Games For Children,
    – Scary Soccer, etc

    I was impressed at how each of these football drills and games presented us with several options to tackle social challenges like drugs, alcohol, smoking, sexual molestation or harassment, bullying etc. Information about health related problems like malnutrition and diseases (e.g HIV/AIDS) can be passed and made accessible to children and communities using sport. The games not only revealed social problems and their causes but they also proffered solutions as well as preventive measures.

    At the end, It was the most rewarding experience I have ever had, and I realized that empowering people with knowledge and skills is the key to driving social impact, and we can comfortably inculcate this message through sports. I’m grateful to CAC, especially the coaches Emily Kruger and Tejas, for their positive energy, time and patience throughout the program. I’m very keen to use this experience as a guide to creating social impact anywhere I go.