• Impressions For A Lifetime

    November 6th, 2018. Global Citizen, Moritz Guertler from Germany reflects on his time working with CAC On-Field with Community Partner Uni Papua F.C. throughout Indonesia over the past month! 

    I had the opportunity to be part of the ‘Coaching for Coaches’-team (further including Charlie and Jesse from the US, Frans from West Papua, and Peter from Burkina Faso) in five different locations within Indonesia over four weeks: Jakarta, Lampung Timur, Pekanbaru, Bali, and Tangerang. Since it is close to impossible to put all these impressions into one article, I decided to share with you my list of the most incisive moments and impressions, both, positive and negative:

    • The first and most overwhelming: getting picked up from Jakarta airport on a scooter (two guys, three backpacks) driving through the ultimate Asian urban jungle of vibrant, noisy, and dirty Jakarta, for 1h 30min after a 17-hour trip from Munich via Doha.
    • The most difficult pitch: definitely in Tabanan, Bali – where the pitch was more of a sandpit than anything else with even a road for cars and scooters running THROUGH the pitch.
    • The most beautiful: Lampung’s countryside with jungle and clean rivers we got to swim in.
    • The most surprising: the professionalism of staff and facilities of Tiga Naga Football Academy in Pekanbaru, Sumatra – a far above standard institution for young boys striving for a professional career in football in Indonesia.
    • The strangest: witnessing a trance ritual (called Kuda Lumping; translated to ‘crazy horse’) in Lampung Timur, Sumatra: two women dressed up as animals in wooden masks and a tamer with a whip gave a very intense performance while a repeating series of drums, flute, and spell singing completed a dramatic and vibrant atmosphere, which causes form of trance for members of that ‘cult’. As the intensity and excitement rose among the audience, suddenly, spectators jumped into the circle obviously not being themselves, pretending to be animals crawling through the sand receiving higher spirits into their bodies. At the end of the ritual, the tamer lifts the spirits from the bodies and “brings them back”. They do not remember what happened afterwards.
    • The most disappointing: missing three out of five days program in Bali due to one of Bali’s classics: the ‘Bali belly’ basically not allowing you to leave the bathroom for a couple of days.
    • The happiest: being able to leave the bed again after almost missing out on the whole Bali project.
    • The culinary highlight: definitely Pekanbaru, Sumatra, with its spicy and sweet-sour crab and shrimp, deliciously marinated fish, and the best grilled chicken I had in a very long time.
    • The most nerve-wrecking: the roads between Lampung airport and the village where we coached that hardly deserve any name related to street, road, path or track – more potholes than actual road surface – in the complete darkness of the night.
    • The best project: the last one in Tangerang Seletan, Java, since participants were so creative and fun to work with.
    • The most touching: at the end of the last session in Jakarta, Benjamin, one of the participants, thanked me for the effort and heart I give to his country.
    • The most impressive human being: Coach Frans from West Papua as the eldest of seven kids who volunteered many years for Uni Papua as a coach and, after he became a paid coach, financed his first brother’s university studies until he graduated with a bachelors degree just recently.

    My overall takeaways are the smiles of the people and the fun they had while playing these games. Don’t get me wrong here: I love football and enjoyed it all my life. But for me it was the first time to play games of football where the competition is not at the core like it has been throughout my football career. It is all about the social impact and the fun; and the fun is present every second – always! I definitely understand now better why football is called ‘The Beautiful Game’ – for me personally, football just gained a whole new dimension after these intense weeks.

  • Homegrown Leadership

    October 5th, 2017. Self-Directed Learning Educator, Emily Kruger, writes about her on-field experience working with Uni Papua in Sorong, Indonesia. 

    Now that CAC has existed for almost a decade, we have a handful of implementing partners who have been with us for many years. A few weeks with these coaches and leaders feels much different than time spent with a brand new partner. These humans have met almost every single CAC staff member, they have played almost every game in the CAC curriculum, and they have already made a deep impact on the children in their weekly programs.

    For us, the next progression is to challenge these leaders to do as CAC does and work with other coaches, which is different than coaching their young players. I’ve had this experience now in Haiti with Haitian Initiative, Cambodia with IndoChina Starfish, and again this week with Uni Papua in Sorong, Indonesia.

    Coach Frans grew up in Sorong, on the island of Papua. He moved to Jakarta in 2013 to study at the University Multimedia Nusantara, and soon after became a player on a Uni Papua team­­­. In 2015, he encountered the CAC curriculum and methodology for the first time, at a program in Jakarta with Charlie and Turner. He was convinced of something new: football is a tool with which people can learn off-field skills and knowledge. He was excited at the prospect of teaching about the negative impacts of abusing alcohol and cigarettes (as many of them were doing), about their right to good health and where to access care, about the positive implications of inclusion and equity…all through engaging activities with the ball!

    Shortly after that training, he was hired by Uni Papua as a full-time head coach. Throughout 2016, he began to not only coach his youth team but also to work with coaches. When he is called upon, he leads coach trainings for new Uni Papua chapters, where the coaches do not yet know about using football for social impact. We agreed that he would like to do more of this (for CAC this is what sustainability looks like!!) so for our program in his hometown of Sorong, the foreign CAC team took a major step back so that Frans could step in and be the leader he wants to be. His two younger brothers were at the training, his Uni Papua colleagues were at the training, even some of his former players were in attendance. From the sidelines, it was evident that they all look up to him. While I am not sure what exactly they were discussing (after 3 weeks, my Bahasa is still not where it would need to be to catch the quick on-field conversations), I could see that Frans was asking them thoughtful questions, challenging them to think for themselves and solve their problems as a team.

    At the end of the week, the participants expressed their gratitude for Frans and his passionate leadership, while I expressed my excitement for the future of Uni Papua…with homegrown leadership comes a kind of deeper, sustainable impact that a foreigner cannot replicate.

  • 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.

  • Shoutout!!!

    September 27th 2016. CAC volunteer Alicia Calcagni gives a shoutout to the coaches of Sorong, Indonesia and our partnership with Uni Papua.

    My shoutout this week goes to all of the coaches I have worked with in Indonesia. My partner, Mark Gabriel, started ending our sessions with a “shout out.” Which includes all of us standing in a circle while he screams, “I have a shout out,” and us yelling back, “shout out!” Then, he recognizes the exemplar leader of that day. After that, we huddle around him or her and do a cheer. This ritual isn’t designed to single one person out as the best, but to appreciate someone for being a good person. I have noticed it also drives the other participants to improve. For example, at our first session in Sorong we gave a shoutout to a coach named Aroses. We chose him because he came prepared with a notebook and wrote down every game played and the social impact of it. He also had an answer for every question, while encouraging others to speak up as well. Following his lead, two aspiring coaches came ready to play with a notebook in hand the next day. No matter the age, shining someone in a positive light (even for the little things) boosts their confidence and pride. Which has the ability to boost the confidence and pride of the whole group. Creating this ritual developed a personal connection with the coaches, making our differences fade away. Mark also started ending every session with a handshake. The coaches ticket to leave was giving us a high five and a fist bump. It is difficult going into a community as an outsider and talking about specific social issues, especially since we only have a limited number of days. However, these little acknowledgements builds trust and comradery. Thank you Uni Papua for embracing CAC’s work and making a difference.

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  • Kindness

    September 23rd 2016. Alicia Calcagni blogs from Sentani and Jayapura in Indonesia with Uni Papau FC.
    Mark and I have spent the last 2 weeks in Sentani and Jayapura with a Uni Papua crew, and they significantly enhanced our experience. To start, the coordinator of the Jayapura program, Yanti, opened her house to us. Then in Jayapura, we had the help of Marthin, Natalia, Yan, and Ken. All of them can speak a little English, so collectively they were able to help us clearly convey all of the games and social messages. Without them, it really would not have been possible. Off the field, they took us to all their favorite spots likthe coffee shop, the place they always go for dinner, and the hill on Sentani lake. They made the programs run smoothly and made sure we had a great time off of the field. One act of kindness that I will never forget was when I was sick in bed with a cold. I was too sick to coach one day, so I stayed back at the hotel drinking tea. I was reading and I heard a knock on the door then a familiar voice ring, “Aliciaaa.” I opened the door to Yanti! She made the hour drive from her home in Sentani to our hotel in Jayapura just to check on me! I do not speak Bahasa and she does not speak English, so we communicate via Google translate. She typed, “I miss you very much and heard you are not healthy, so I want to see you.” Then, she offered to get dinner with me, and when I said no she gave me a dragonfruit. If she wasn’t nice enough already she added that she would stay the night at the hotel to take care of me!!! She did not say one word and she exuded so much kindness, compassion, and love. Everyone we meet we can only communicate a little bit, but it is just enough to convey social messages on and off of the field.
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  • The Power of Futbol

    September 15th 2016. CAC volunteer Alicia Calcagni writes about our work with Uni Papua in Tamika, Indonesia.

    As we drive through a village half a mile long at 11:30 am with our windows rolled down, we watch soldiers of two tribes sharpen their arrows and knives, preparing for battle at noon. It is lightly raining and puddles have started to form on both sides of the bumpy dirt road. We are informed that it is their designated lunch break, we missed combat by a mere 30 minutes. Their battle is one of many in a continuous war — maybe over a killed pig, a woman, a dirty look… It doesn’t take much. When there is a conflict, death follows. Soldiers include men, women, and children. Entering the “red zone” we pass one woman who is walking with her two little ones while gripping two sharpened knives in one hand. We continue driving past groups of men casually hanging out on their porches, drinking some water simultaneously guarding their bows, which are as tall as their bodies. Our driver then tells us we must say “Amola! (Hello)!” to everyone we pass in the village to state our presence, or else we will be attacked. Quote, “If you do not say hi, they will attack.” Feeling their intense glare burn through my skin, I start shyly waving my right hand out of the window. Doing anything and everything to avoid eye contact. The battlefield is in the middle of the village, between the two tribes: Kwangju Lana and Kuala Kencan. It is a small open dirt patch with, I kid you not, a church in the middle. The daily battles must end in a draw. If three from one tribe are killed, three from the other must be killed as well. So while lives are lost, a conclusion does not grow any closer. In the middle of this madness there is a soccer pitch. It sits right on the dividing line of the villages. The two tribes have named it a “safe zone.”  For however long, enemies come together to play a futbol match with no bows and no knives. How much strength does a soccer ball truly posses? Just enough to create peace. This is the true power of futbol.

    I am proud to be a teacher of the game that brings various communities together. I am confident in coaching soccer for social change and making our world a better place.

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