• Mariah Lee Reflects on Trip to the DRC

    Step Up Athlete and professional soccer player, Mariah Lee, talks about her first on-field experience with CAC, advancing gender equality in the DRC. 

    I have just returned home after spending two weeks in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). While I have been a part of the Choice For Women team for more than a year now, this was my first on-field experience with CAC. For the majority of my time in the DRC, I led trainings on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Prevention at the Malaika Community Center in Kalebuka as part of a global initiative with EngenderHealth to address UN SDG 5: Gender Equality. 

    In other words, I used Purposeful Play (i.e., sport/games/play) to teach community leaders about SRHR and GBV Prevention. They will go on to lead sessions in their communities, impacting hundreds of youth across the DRC. Elvis, head of the Malaika Community Center and long-time CAC accredited coach spearheaded the sessions, and together we graduated more than 40 leaders over the course of one week. 

    Reading and hearing about what CAC does is one thing, but experiencing it firsthand is entirely different. There is something really powerful about experiential learning and using play to spark dialogue and introduce concepts. This could look like a game of tag where taggers represent a sexually transmitted disease and the safe area represents a condom. This could also be a game of soccer or handball where scoring a goal symbolizes pregnancy and goalkeepers symbolize different types of contraception. Each game is designed to stimulate discussion and incorporate participants’ ideas and solutions. 

    You might think adults wouldn’t be that excited to get outside and play games all day, but the folks we worked with were incredibly enthusiastic! Our cohort had so much energy– we danced and chanted and laughed together every day. We had our share of serious moments, too. During the week we touched on topics such as reproduction, family planning, contraception, HIV/STI protection, reproductive rights, stereotyping, inclusion, opportunity, power dynamics, and safe choices. For many participants, this was their first time broaching some of these subjects. 

    Fortunately, we were able to create a safe environment where participants were able to ask questions about stereotypically taboo topics. I was able to correct misconceptions participants held about reproduction, contraception, and female athletes. Interestingly enough, the men in our cohort were more accepting of women in sport, and it was the women who were more apprehensive. Most of the women had played soccer when they were younger but eventually stopped because of pressure from their community. They were told playing soccer would make them become infertile, turn into a boy, lose their virginity, lose their breasts, etc. I gladly busted those myths!

    Outside of our SRHR and GBV Prevention trainings, I spent the majority of my time running soccer sessions with coaches and players– including girls from the Malaika School and boys from the surrounding community. In the DRC there is no public education. Parents either have to come up with the money for school fees or their children sit at home all day– or for many– at the local football pitch. I coached many boys who had little to no formal education, where football is one of the few pathways to a better life. Malaika is a tuition-free private school for girls founded by international supermodel Noella Coursaris Munsunka. Noella, who is Congolese and Cypriot was born in the DRC, but raised in the UK after her father died. Noella’s mother, like most Congolese women, had no education and could not support her. This reality fueled Noella’s desire to create opportunities for girls and women in her home country. 

    E-meeting Noella and being welcomed by the administrators at Malaika was incredibly inspiring and further cemented my passion for empowering Black girls. Being able to impact the girls and women of the Kalebuka community is something I will never forget! 

  • COVID-19 Recovery

    In 2020, Coaches Across Continents (CAC), with the Commonwealth Secretariat, created a play-based educational resource, covering issues such as anxiety, self-esteem, and stress. 96% of CAC partners reported the mental well-being of youth they engage has been affected by the pandemic. The resource seeks to benefit any organisation, community, coach, or teacher who interact with young people. The activities are adaptable to participant numbers and restrictions (distancing, hygiene etc) so they can be used in contexts where social distancing and hygiene measures are necessary.  

    In many ways COVID-19 has brought the world together as we adapt to the lack of travel and group experiences by connecting online and through messaging platforms. We can increase access to sport for development by designing interactive learning techniques accessible for all such as global video sharing and collaboration, active sport for development video games, and virtual reality technology.

    COVID-19 has denied people the ability to socialise, play, and move, causing everyone to re-assess what really matters.  One of the key opportunities the COVID-19 pandemic recovery presents to sport and play is that its benefits have been reinforced in people’s minds. We can build back better post COVID-19 by re-emphasising sport and play’s role in the emotional and social development of young people as opposed to primarily its role in elite talent development. Coaches using resources such as our Mental Health through Sport curriculum in their work will transform the perception of play in the minds of young people, parents, teachers, and communities.

  • Sport for Gender Equality With GIZ

    CAC is pleased to announce that we are partnering with Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) to deliver a curriculum and training of teachers on the subject of ‘Sport for Gender Equality’. Over the coming months we will be designing specific Sport for Gender Equality curriculum, running online teacher trainings for sport for development instructors in the GIZ network and providing feedback and evaluations to assess the impact of the project. In particular this will focus on GIZ priority countries including Colombia, Western Balkans, Uganda, Morocco, and Indonesia. It is an honour to be working officially with GIZ having had many interactions with them and their sport for development experts in the past.

    About GIZ

    GIZ work to shape a future worth living around the world. This is GIZ’s vision and long-term goal.

    GIZ provides tailor-made, cost-efficient and effective services for sustainable development.

    About Coaches Across Continents (CAC) and Creating Legacies 17 (CL17) Influence

    Coaches Across Continents is a global collaboration of communities, organizations, and coaches on six continents that impact the UN SDGs and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

    CL17 Influence, a division of CAC, advises governments, confederations, global NGOs, policy makers, and key donors to create their global legacies, design policies, and address the UN SDGs.

     

  • Mind Your Mind

    Our latest on-field programme is with the incredible Sports With a Mission (SWAM) India team, who have been using Purposeful Play in Bangalore to raise awareness of Mental Health. Delivered by Superstar CIC Benny and his wife Nandini, Team SWAM continue to show the power of Education Outside the Classroom…

    Sports With A Mission (SWAM) is a non-profit organization based in Bangalore, India. We teach life skills through sports for vulnerable population. SWAM teaches education outside the classroom through purposeful play and we encourage self-directed learning, through which we address the United Nations Sustainable Developmental Goals #3, 4 and 5, which focus on General Health and Wellbeing, Quality Education and Gender Equality.

    In partnership with CAC, we decided to deliver a program to 15 participants, so we could comply with local government restrictions. The only thing that was on our mind is which group to reach out to for the program because our regular football club players had exams. We contacted young man named Vimal who has a dance studio, as he had reached out to us earlier to conduct some workshops for his students. He was very eager and excited and immediately put together a group of 14 members.

    The preparations for the event began by clearing out the ground and trying to make it as even as possible to avoid injuries. The next thing was to see if we had all the resources for the event. We went shopping for refreshments, balls, bibs and markers. We created posters and banners for the program and got our first standee made to showcase what work we do. We did a little research about getting in mobile toilets but they were too expensive and there was a lack of water at the venue. The day before the event we took all our material right from tables, chairs, first aid kits, water cans and drinking water in our small car. We were shocked to see the number of things that fit into it.

    Finally, the day to begin the event, it rained the previous day and the whole ground was slushy. There was a lot of anxiety because we were unsure of the participants showing up. When we saw them enter it was clear to us that most often we live with assumptions the reality is very different. The participants came with an empty mind because they did not know what our sessions would be like and were surprised at the end of the first session as to how games can make us understand so many issues that are otherwise swept under the carpet. The participants enjoyed the Playing with Distance games, a serious discussion happened after the Balancing Emotions because most of them would not express other emotions apart from happiness due to shame, fear of judgment and labeling, fear of losing a friend, discomfort within the group. After the program they realized the importance of expression and communication, most of them are ready to make a change and will try to implement what they have learnt in the program. The group is interested in continuing their relationship with SWAM with more such workshops every quarter.

  • CAC Shortlisted At Beyond Sport 2020

    We are honored to be shortlisted for the Sport for Health and Well-being Award (SDG 3) Category at the 2020 Beyond Sport Global Awards! Our Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights initiative with Pathfinder International has been selected by Beyond Sport as one of just 16 shortlisted initiatives (from over 270 applications). This year, as there will be no in-person Beyond Sport Awards they will be promoting the Shortlist through a digital communications campaign that will run from September through to early December. We are thankful to Beyond Sport for this opportunity to champion our work to a wide audience. We are excited about the upcoming Beyond Sport House online events taking place from October-November.

    This is our 6th Beyond Sport shortlist. In 2009 we won the Best New Project Award. In 2014 we won the Corporate of the Year award for our Chevrolet partnership. In 2018 we won the Global Impact award.

    For more information on our partnership with Pathfinder International please have a look at this blog about our partnership launch and this blog about the impact of our work addressing Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights in Tanzania.

  • CAC & Football United Going The Extra Mile

    March 20th 2020. Although the Bloomberg Square Mile Relay Sydney has been postponed for 2020 the race runners are still selecting an Extra Mile program to support in 2020. This week they are selecting one of three ’causes’ to support that have a specific focus on public health with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The 3 causes are mental health, physical activity and healthy living including hygiene. This program, once selected, will be delivered by CAC partner Football United, supported by CAC. We are disappointed to not be able to be on the ground in Sydney during this fun event but are delighted Bloomberg are still going The Extra Mile with Football United and CAC again in 2020.

    This is our 3rd consecutive year working with Bloomberg as The Extra Mile partner in Sydney. Over the past 12 months the Football United program has effectively delivered school based programs which promote social inclusion and community cohesion, as selected by the 2019 race runners. We have also worked with Bloomberg on this initiative in Tokyo in 2018 and Beijing in 2019.