• Localizing Solutions with The Sanneh Foundation

    September 9th 2015. SDL Coach Nora Dooley shares her thoughts on our growing partnership with The Sanneh Foundation and our recent training in Saint Paul, Minnesota.

    The United States and Haiti have a delicate relationship. From suspect political maneuvers to the post-disaster onslaught of NGOs ‘doing good’, I am often more convinced of the harm we have caused than the progress we have helped.

    This is a bit glass-half-empty, yes. But it comes from a place of concern. I am from the US (Boston, MA), and Haiti was the first ‘developing’ country I ever visited. I was there in 2012 and have been back twice with CAC in 2014 and 2015. I have been exposed to groups wanting so badly to ‘do good’ and actually causing harm, as well as organizations committed to long-term, locally sustainable, and the-US-does-not-know-best type of initiatives. One of the latter is led by The Sanneh Foundation (TSF).

    TSF is a non-profit based in the United States. They have programs running locally in Minnesota communities and internationally in Haiti with their Haitian Initiative (HI). CAC first began partnering with TSF in Haiti, running trainings for their HI coaches and supporting their work year-round from January 2014. We hit it off, so to speak, identifying early on that our passions and values lined up, laying the foundation for a great partnership. Later in 2014 we launched our On-Field relationship with the team in Minnesota, training TSF Dreamline leaders in CAC Self-Directed Learning methodology. Since its inception, the relationship has matured, exploring new ways to support TSF programs at home and abroad.

    Having personally led the Haiti trainings with HI for the past two years, I was excited to visit Minnesota (for the first time), learn more about TSF’s base, and work with this year’s batch of Dreamline coaches.

    The week was brilliant. I could not have asked for a better group of young leaders to teach and learn from; they were enthusiastic about life and education, they were intelligent and thirsty for new ideas, they were welcoming to an outsider (who kept championing the Patriots), and they were open and creative when asked to rise to various challenges.

    One of said challenges was particularly inspiring. Although we only had three days of training, the first two went so swimmingly that I decided to change the plan for the third and final day. Rather than continuing to teach new games to this group of coaches that was so sharp and quick in the uptake, I had them form small groups and come up with brand new games to teach each other about any social issue they chose. The outcome was – as we say where I’m from – wicked awesome. A couple groups chose to invent a game about the economic divide in the US and understanding privilege, others taught about bullying and discrimination, and still others about trust, leadership, and communicating to solve problems.

    My eager hope for this team of educators, a hope I share with the leaders of TSF, is that they continue to build off of this amazing creativity, sharing ideas with one another, inventing new games, and striving to find new solutions to the problems they see in their communities every day.

    My half-empty glass overflows when I get the chance to work with people like these Dreamline coaches. The Sanneh Foundation operates in the United States, and they have a project in Haiti. Their work sets a new standard for the relationship between the two countries; a standard centered on local people, with local knowledge, and local solutions. With a more complete picture of TSF, my excitement waxes for the future of our partnership, the promise of their projects, and the progress of the role our country is playing on fields foreign and domestic.

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  • Back to School with The Sanneh Foundation

    August 25, 2014. For some people, being a professional soccer player who represented the United States in the 2002 World Cup would be enough of an accomplishment to relax in retirement. Tony Sanneh, however, has worked tirelessly to increase the impact of The Sanneh Foundation (TSF) that he founded in 2003. Our first partnership with TSF occurred in January in Cité Soleil, Port-au-Prince, Haiti. After the success of this first training, we have expanded our partnership to include working with their Dreamline Corps, which combines soccer and education in eight high schools in St. Paul, Minnesota, USA.

    This past week we worked with over two-dozen Dreamline and TSF coaches who will be implementing the Coaches Across Continents curriculum throughout the next school year. Dreamline looks to engage and energize underserved and under-engaged students so they take ownership of their own success in academics and life. They provide academic support during school hours, as well as an after-school enrichment program that includes sport where the coaches look to continue their work to increase student self-efficacy and leadership by integrating education and sport.

    It was an extremely intensive three days which included off-field theory on our Self-Directed Learning model which is based on our Chance to Choice philosophy as well as other talks on Child Rights, coaching skills, and monitoring & evaluation. Both On and Off-Field the coaches learned to allow players to “solve their problems” through experiential learning without the coaches immediately providing the answers.

    But On-Field provided the most fun and fireworks. The community of St. Paul and the schools in which TSF operates are very diverse, including recent immigrants (many from East Africa and Asia) as well as a broad mix of ethnicities. On the second day we played a game from our Peace Day Curriculum (free upon request) that addresses stereotypes by restricting specific players to various zones on the field. Besides the clear analogy between the soccer game and stereotyping, it led to an intensive discussion focusing on the current events happening in Ferguson, Missouri. In a civil but passionate discussion, various points of view were brought up. The biggest learning point however was that sport could teach On-Field and also stand as a catalyst for intense dialogue within a safe space off the soccer field.

    The school year begins in two weeks, and Coaches Across Continents is proud that our curriculum will be used in eight high schools around St. Paul (MN, USA) and in camps throughout the year that are hosted by The Sanneh Foundation. We look forward to our continued multi-nation partnership with TSF and the impact that Tony is having on both communities through his Foundation.

    Too Much Fun at TSF!

    Too Much Fun at TSF!

    A fun little tug of war

    A fun little tug of war

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  • Make your World Cup predictions today!

     

    June 2nd, 2014. It is only 10 days until the World Cup starts in Brazil with the hosts playing Croatia in the opening fixture. That means there is only 10 days to join the Coaches Across Continents World Cup prediction bracket on Indiegogo! Do you think England will deal with the heat and go all the way? Can the US beat the odds and get past Ronaldo and the Germans? Or will Brazil be celebrating a home victory? Show us your predictions!

    By making a small donation to the Coaches Across Continents programming in Brazil during the World Cup you can get CAC and soccer related gifts alongside the entry to our World Cup prediction competition on ESPN. Former US men’s soccer World Cup player Tony Sanneh and famous US soccer broadcaster Seamus Malin have already made their predictions. Now it is your turn to see if you can beat the experts!

    Your donation will go directly to the Coaches Across Continents programs in Brazil through the six coaches who will be creating sustainable social change in Brazilian favelas throughout the World Cup. While the elite players compete on the worlds biggest stage the favelas will still be very dangerous places for youth and children. Drugs, gang violence, police brutality and social unrest have been ongoing problems for the 11 million Brazilians living in these areas.

    HELP TO MAKE THIS THE REAL LEGACY OF THE WORLD CUP AND SOCCER IN BRAZIL!

     Join Today

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  • “Rezoud Konfli”

    IMG_4510January 30, 2014. The first thing I realized when I landed in Haiti was that for some reason Haitian kids always wanted to fight me. At first I thought a Japanese man like me was probably not welcome in Haiti, but then soon I realized that they thought I was Jackie Chan and always thus expected a display of martial arts skill. For that reason, I was kind of popular in Haiti and it was easy to be friendly with Haitian people.

    And like that, my life in Haiti started. After the amazing first week we had with GOALS Haiti in Léogâne, we moved to Port-au-Prince, where we worked with Tony Sanneh of The Sanneh Foundation and their Haitian Initiative for a full week. Tony is a former professional soccer player who played for the US in the 2002 World Cup and had an assist against Portugal. He founded The Sanneh Foundation when he was still playing as a pro in order to help the urban kids learn life skills through playing soccer, and decided to extend the program to Haiti after the earthquake in 2010.

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    The week with the Haitian Initiative was very overwhelming but also fun. In the mornings from 9:00 to 12:00, we taught our drills to about sixty of the local coaches, and in the afternoon from 2:00 to 5:30 we observed the coaches using our drills to train the kids. The sessions were really long and because I was under the sun for a long time every day, I got the coolest T-shirt tan lines ever, which people actually have been telling me are the worst. However, it was totally worth working with the local coaches for that long period of time because I was able to learn three big lessons about life.

    One lesson is the importance of conflict resolution. From the first day of the week, we let them play games that were designed to simulate conflict. At first, I always wanted to get in the middle of the argument and re-explain the rules and offer a solution. However, Nora always pulled me aside and told me “let them solve their own problems” and just yelled out, “rezoud konfli!” which means to solve conflicts in Créole. By the end of the week I started to observe more leadership within the group and efforts to solve problems independently. It was a huge step forward for them, especially because the ability to think critically and solve problems is crucial for developing countries like Haiti, and until that point I never knew there was such an educating method as stepping back and observing without interfering, which had a pretty impressive effect.IMG_9488

    The second lesson I learned was that, yes, soccer is a language of the world and you can easily make tons of friends by just playing soccer, but knowing some of their language and culture gets you much closer to them. For example, I literally knew only four sentences in Créole, which were “bon travay” (good job), “san balon” (without the ball), “bay non” (give me your name) and “ou pare? on ale” (you ready? Let’s go). However, with only these four sentences, I was able to make them laugh, smile, and happy. In addition, we learned one of the Haitian traditional dance moves in the first week, and we showed it to the coaches in Port-au-Prince, and they absolutely loved that we did it. Looking back at my own life, I was always happy when random people talked to me saying “konnichiwa,” or even when they were big fans of Pokémon. I thought that when I got a chance to go abroad next, I should learn some fun sentences and dances from the country before visiting, and now I know that will definitely help me make friends.

    IMG_9867Finally, working with the Haitian Initiative made me realize that I could influence so many other lives. After working with the coaches for a week, it was obvious to my eyes that they not only had become better coaches, but also had become better educators. In the afternoon sessions where we got to observe the coaches training the kids, I could tell the way they interacted with the kids had started to change. They were encouraging kids to be more vocal, have respect for others, treat everyone equally regardless of gender, and have more fun. The funny thing is when they would shout out “rezoud konfli!” to kids when they were arguing. It was amazing to see that what we teach is directly reflected in what they teach. Because each coach had about twenty kids, that’s more than a thousand kids we had impacted. To think that we had influenced more than a thousand kids in just a week, and that we had potentially helped create a positive outlet for Haiti’s next generation of leaders is simply mind-blowing.

    Going to Haiti and working with CAC and Haitian Initiative has definitely become a life changing experience to me. This trip gave me a chance to reassess my values in life along with my future goals. These past two weeks I was always asking myself questions, but did not know answers to most of them. This trip made me really want to go back to school, and study to become a better critical thinker so that I can be better at rezoud konfli. So now I am happy that I am back at Harvard to start a new semester, but man, it is freaking cold here. I already miss Haiti and mangos.

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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.