• Free On The Field

    May 30th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo returns to work with CAC and the Ministry of Sport in Unguja, Zanzibar. 

    This week we were back on the largest island of Zanzibar, Unguja, for what is now the fifth consecutive year. Community Impact Coach Nico and I participated here for the first time, though Nick has been here almost every year. With nearly eighty participants, a pristine turf field at the city stadium, adequate cones, and a horde of One World Futbols, we could not have asked for a better setup for our program. The end result did not disappoint – we dodged (almost all of) the rain, played over forty different games, and capped off our excellent week with a much-hyped full-field match between coaches and teachers. Though we ran the program at a fast pace, we did not sacrifice depth: we had a number of substantial discussions about opportunities for girls and women – on and off the field – the rights of children, and how the prevailing Islamic culture in the Zanzibar archipelago underpins local attitudes on these topics. All around, we had a fantastic week.

    One of the best things about the week was just another simple reminder about why the sports field is such a special place.  On the field, people are free. Free to express themselves in the way they play each game. Despite a language barrier, I’ve often felt like I get to know each participant personally by watching how they play; the way they run or approach the ball reveals something about a player’s personality. It is nothing short of beautiful to assemble a group of men and women of widely ranging ages and watch each of them light up when they receive the ball, or solve a problem, or, most brilliantly, when they celebrate scoring, and to witness them shed some of the restraint they may exhibit off the field. Ultimately, stepping onto the field grants players the liberty to be themselves. It is a form of expression, and the games we play make this joy accessible to participants of any age or ability. For many, sports can be an outlet or a refuge from anything else in their lives; once they take the field, nothing outside of the field matters anymore. While football has this power in all corners of the globe, somehow I never get tired of recognizing it.  

    Realizing this anew underscored for me the significance of a major focus of our program: the value of offering all children – boys and girls alike –  the opportunity to play sports, and secondly, ensuring that those children are protected from all forms of abuse on the field. When communities and families can be rife with conflict, violence and abuse, the opportunity to play freely and safely is ever more valuable to children. To deny that to any child, whether because of their gender or ability or by allowing the field to become an abusive environment, slims the chance that any of those children will grow up to escape the cycle of violence. In our program, we spent considerable time discussing the ways that adults abuse children, how to recognize this abuse, and, most crucially, how to find other ways for our coach and teacher participants to discipline their children. We devoted several other conversations to discussing how and why girls are excluded from sports, finding that the often strict Islamic culture discourages people from allowing girls to play sports, football in particular. Though opposing a dominant religion can stir controversy, as the participants seemed to decide that their girls did in fact have the right to play sports, we explored ways that they could offer girls the opportunity to play without contradicting religion. There remains a significant cultural resistance to overcome, but we tried to avoid pitting girls playing sports against our participants’ religion.

    The Ministry of Education also plans to implement CAC curriculum in all of the schools in Unguja, so we can now see how the five years of CAC programs have been appealing to people, and that the discussions we’ve begun on the field have spread off the field throughout the other 51 weeks each year. Excited to see what this program will look like in its sixth year!

  • The Future of Women’s Rights in Islam and Zanzibar

    May 12th 2016. MJPT young leader, Fatma Said Ahmed, answers CAC questions about our recent training in Unguja, Zanzibar in partnership with the Ministry of Sport, the Zanzibar Football Association, and Save the Children.

    • How did you get involved with CAC?

    I first heard about Coaches Across Continents from Zanzibar National Sports Council and I got involved with CAC as a volunteer helping translate English to Swahili during the one week training at Unguja, Zanzibar. I was lucky enough to meet the amazing Coaches and learn from them, thanks to Nick and Nora. I also learnt CAC activities through website.

    • Tell us about your work and activism in Zanzibar:

    I work at Stand For Humanity as the Founder and Managing Director. Stand For Humanity is a Non-Profit Organization. The mission is to serve and provide humanitarian actions to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures and to call the stakeholders and other people of good will to do the same. Vision: “Having a youth that is dynamic, active, responsible and committed in the development process”. I have done and organize different activities such as Online Campaigns on Child’s rights and development, joining the joint events (International Women’s Day, International Midwife Day, World Read Aloud Day, Earth Day etc.) and outreach programs.

    I work as a volunteer in youth development organizations. I once started to volunteer at Zanzibar Youth Forum around 2013 and got the chance to join the UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel on communications and host the Facebook closed group of YAP (Youth Advisory Panel). YAP was established to give young people the right to advise UNFPA on issues concerning adolescents and youth. I have take part on relevant issues such as capacity building, advocacy, policy dialogues and outreach.

    I also volunteer at AfriYAN (African Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development) as the Secretary General of AfriYAN Tanzania Chapter.

    • What did you learn from the week of training with CAC in Unguja?

    During the week of training with CAC I’ve learned so many things on how sports can bring positive social change such as:-

    Child rights (Freedom of expression, right to information and responsibility to the community)

    Gender equity + Female empowerment (ASK for choice)

    Skills for life – problem solving

    Conflict prevention

    Sports skills

    • What do you think needs to happen in order for women and men/girls and boys to be treated equally in Zanzibar?

    Awareness about gender equality must be raised at schools so that children and young people could be aware that girls and boys/men and women have equal rights that what men can do women can do. Breaking the social and cultural barriers that hinders girl’s empowerment. Also raise awareness to public; show and tell; engage with influential leaders and community members.

    • What are you most excited about for your upcoming week in Dallas?

    I’m so excited about my upcoming week in Dallas; I can’t wait to start my once-in-a-lifetime journey and get to learn from the Olympic Legend Michael Johnson at the performance center.  Learning and sharing ideas, experiences. I also expect to get mentored to become a future leader.

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    Zanzibari women and men design a local women’s rights policy.

  • Soccer Icon Seamus Malin Heads to Tanzania

    February 4th 2015. Seamus Malin has had an illustrious soccer career. As a journalist and TV announcer he has commentated on seven World Cups, three Olympic Games and countless Champions League matches. He was the broadcast voice of the NY Cosmos in their heyday from 1978 -1984.  And he was inducted into the US National Soccer Hall of Fame in 2005 and remains the only TV commentator elected to that body.

    But this April and May, Seamus is taking his role as a Board Member with Coaches Across Continents to the next level.  Seamus is headed On-Field to work with our partner programs on Unguja and Pemba islands, Tanzania. Here Seamus will work with our partners as they harness the true power of sport for social impact, tackling such issues as corporal punishment which is still legal and practiced there and female empowerment.  Seamus will help these local communities address their cultural and traditional problems so that they can choose their own future through sport.

    Seamus says, ‘together we can help children in developing regions around the world play soccer, learn life skills and become leaders in the community.’

    Seamus is looking for your support of Coaches Across Continents in Tanzania, and has targeted the ambitious goal of $27,000 which is the cost and value of one year-round partnership.  In 2015, Coaches Across Continents will be working in more than 80 communities in 30 countries. Help out this soccer icon today by donating and follow the story of his trip and its impact on these two islands off the Tanzanian mainland.

    Support soccer icon Seamus Malin and Coaches Across Continents create social change in Tanzania

     

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  • Commitment and Creativity – Pemba coaches are becoming Self-Directed Learners

    May 21, 2014.   A long way from Germany, CAC Coach Markus Bensch describes our work this past week on Pemba Island (Zanzibar, Tanzania).  When Sophie and I arrived on Sunday morning in Pemba we went straight from the airport on an island tour. The whole vegetation was lush green and everything flowered. It felt a bit like paradise and our accommodation was right next to the ocean which gave us a very nice rest in the afternoon, before we started with the program the next day.

    On Monday morning we would welcome 41 coaches to our training of which were 32 returners which means they had participated in our training last year. That made us very happy, because it is exactly what we want, coaches that take part all three years in our Hat-Trick Training and change things in their community step by step for better. We were also very impressed by their commitment during the week. Some of the coaches came earlier to the venue to write up the games we played before the training started, most of the coaches were on time so we could start punctually and the number of participants stayed constant over the week and could work with more than 40 coaches every day.

    Throughout the week we played games that focused on different topics, i.e. how to resolve conflict without using violence, how to find solutions for problems without asking for the answer and how communication and cooperation can help to overcome challenges, both individually and as a group. We also addressed different social issues like environment pollution, gender inequality, violence against children, HIV/AIDS and early pregnancy. The group did a great job when they adapted our “Adebayor makes good choices” game which is about HIV/AIDS prevention into a game that teaches about prevention of early pregnancies.

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    Playing football in pairs needs a lot of coordination and communication

    On Friday we had our coach-back day as usual. For us coaches it is always a lot of fun because we can act like participants and even take part in the games and leave the stage to participant coaches to practice the games they invented. We saw great coach-backs from nine different groups and it showed us that each of them made a big step during the last year and throughout the week towards the goal of becoming a self-directed learner. We’re very curious to follow up and hear about their progress throughout the year and we are looking forward to come back in 2015 for the final year of our Hat-Trick Curriculum to support the coaches in developing a more open community that respects and supports the rights of children and woman and that addresses existing issues openly to discuss them and find ways to solve them.

    The two successful weeks on Zanzibar would not be possible without the excellent cooperation with all the implementing partners. We’re happy to say ‘Thank you!’ to Save the Children, The National Sports Council, The Zanzibar Football Association and The Ministry of Education for two wonderful weeks with more than 100 coaches in total that surely will make a difference in the community and in young people’s live that are in their care. We hope that this partnership last for a very long time and we are happy to come back on Zanzibar next year.

    We left Pemba on Friday afternoon to land after a wonderful half an hour flight on Unguja again, because we wanted to go swimming with dolphins on Saturday early morning. We left the hotel at 6am and one hour later we sat on a boat to reach out to the dolphins. The beaches and the water are so beautiful that it felt again like paradise. After a while we spotted the first dolphins. After our driver brought us in position we could even jump into the water and marveled them swimming right next to us. It was wonderful to see the elegance with which these creatures ride the waves and swim through the ocean. Compare to them our movements in the water seem like clumsy movements just to save us from drowning. This experience was a great finish of our two weeks on Zanzibar and I already want to submit a request to Brian our Chief Executive Strategist that I want to come back next year.

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    Coaches Across Continents “Lines Game” always causes a lot of confusion and conflict resolution opportunities

  • Do You Know Your Rights?

    May 15, 2014. What an exciting and fun week it has been! Although it started raining heavily from the very moment the shores of Stone Town were in sight and it has not stopped since (I guess that is why they call it the rainy season), it did not discourage the 55 coaches and teachers to show up on Monday, ready to participate in their second annual training with Coaches Across Continents.

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    Local coaches invent a game to raise awareness about blind people’s challenges

    The program in Unguja and Pemba, Zanzibar’s two largest islands, stems from an interesting and dynamic partnership between the Zanzibar Football Association, the Zanzibar Coaches Association, the Zanzibar National Sports Council, the Ministry of Education, and Save The Children. All partners were represented at the opening ceremony where the importance of protecting children from abuses was emphasized (violence against children is still the norm). This was perfect since CAC has recently finalized a brand new child rights curriculum and has started to incorporate child protection training as a core part of every CAC program.

    We had the chance to run the training at Amaan stadium, playing games in the mornings on the beautiful turf field with some of Zanzibar’s 20,000 One World Futbols and reviewing games in the classroom in the afternoons. After a quick refresher course of Messi games and Mingle Mingle we gave participants the opportunity to decide what they would be learning during the training, selecting to focus on nutrition, drug abuse, including children with disabilities, and the importance of education and child rights which then became our focus for the week.

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    What a great stadium for Coaches Across Continents to work!

    Although all days were comparable to one another in terms of the liveliness, engaging discussions and participants’ good-natured spirit, Wednesday was my favorite day of the week: it was entirely dedicated to child rights and child protection. The morning session games teaching about different child rights preceded an engaging hour and a half long discussion in the afternoon about how we could work together to protect children from suffering abuses on the sports field. The games played in the morning certainly helped fuel the discussion and one teacher even remarked that playing those games with the children could be a solution to protecting their rights.

    The child rights game that is quickly becoming one of my personal favorites is ‘Know Your Rights’.  Players from opposing teams in the center circle have to run to cones representing different child rights. The coach yells out two rights and players from the first team run to the first cone, the others to the second one. The game requires speed but also quick thinking and reaction. For some reason, this game seems to trigger the competitive spirit of even the most reserved players. After a couple of rounds, there was shouting, yelling, encouraging and cheering from all sides. It is hard to describe the exuberance and feeling of pure joy that emanated from the game, but I can easily say that this was one of the most euphoric and energy-filled 30 minutes that I have experienced with Coaches Across Continents. I think that everyone would have been happy to continue on for three more hours. It was a close contest between Belgium and Germany but I have to admit that Germany might have come in victorious.

    Another one of my favorite aspects’ of the week was the presence of strong female leaders who also happened to be excellent football players. Many of them come from the ‘Women’s Fighters’ team and they have been working hard to make female football more popular in Zanzibar: it is now a usual occurrence to see boys and girls playing together around Stone Town. They explained that today, when a girl decides to play football, “it feels normal to her, she does not question it.

    The training came to an end on Friday afternoon, after participants coached games they had invented about nutrition, what makes a healthy life, making good choices, including blind people, and safe spaces in the community. TV, radio and newspaper journalists were present to show the Zanzibar community what wonderful work these local educators are aspiring to. We leave for Pemba, our heads filled with countless memories of laughter and joy, and energized by the motivation and passion of these inspiring coaches; but also convinced that this next week of the partnership will be just as rewarding!

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    Unguja (Zanzibar) coaches celebrating after a great week working with Coaches Across Continents!