• Can sex be safe and sweet?

    CAC Self-Directed Learning coach Markus Bensch blogs on our continuing partnership with Vijana Amani Pamoja in Nairobi, Kenya.

    May 20th 2015. What do you think is more appealing to children and youth when talking to them about sex: “You should abstain from sex to avoid HIV and sex is something to be only done by married partners, anyway!” or “Sex can be safe and sweet. Do not focus only on fear or infection, but on good feelings. Good sex requires good communication. Show what you need. Invite your partner to do the same. Be patient. It is possible to have pleasure while using a condom?” I encountered both approaches during our program with our partner Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP).

    For the fifth week of our programs in Kenya we went to the capital of the country: Nairobi. Turner and I were very curious about working with VAP, because usually life in the capital is much faster than in any other part of the country. People have diverse lifestyles, are more likely to be open-minded and usually have a higher level of formal education. Would this week be very different to the programs we ran before?

    Travelling in Kenya is challenging and takes a lot of time, nerves, and patience. We needed all three when we travelled from Awendo to Nairobi as an estimated eight hour bus ride turned out to take twelve, because of traffic jams. Trucks broke down in the middle of the road and because the road was so narrow nobody could pass and we just had to wait until the vehicle was repaired. After the hours Turner and I spent On-Field we spent the 2nd most time on busses and taxis to get from A to B.

    On the Sunday before the training started it was my father’s 75th birthday and I was a bit sad that I couldn’t celebrate with him and my family. But modern technology and good internet connection allowed me to call and congratulate him to his great day, honour the long life he has lived and wish him many more years. At least I could share an hour on Skype with him and my mom and it was very nice to see him so happy and to know that he had a great day. When talking about my work with CAC my father made an unexpected comment: “It makes me happy to see you happy and to see that you enjoy the work you do.” You have to know that my father, as many fathers are, is not very vocal when it comes to compliments and emotions. So he really surprised me with this comment, but also made me very proud. And it was a perfect kick-off for another week On-Field.

    When we got to VAP’s office on Monday morning we received a very warm welcome by Enouce Ndeche, the Executive Director, and Charles Otieno, the Program Officer. As I entered the first room in their office building the flyer with the slogan “Sex can be safe and sweet” caught my eyes. It made me curious and I looked closer at this advert. I read the sentences that I quoted above which I felt were very friendly and encouraging for youth to develop a positive relationship to their sexuality. This approach is very rare in an environment where youth mostly get told to abstain from sex in order to fulfil religious morals and to avoid contracting HIV. Later this week I should be witnessing this fear related approach again.

    As we got onto the field we encountered a very motivated group that was eager to play many different games. The women of this group were very vocal from the beginning which is rare. Usually the women are a bit shy and they are not used to speak up in front of men so they need a few days to gain confidence to participate in discussions. Not so with this group. The women were very confident in sharing their ideas, opinions and thoughts on the different social issues we addressed with our games.

    As it was our fifth year partnering with VAP we encouraged the group to develop new games for their coach-backs in order to address social issues that were important to their community. Although many freshmen participated in the course we witnessed some good games on Skills for Life, the Environment, Financial Literacy, Female Empowerment, and mostly HIV/AIDS. Those led us to a discussion on HIV/AIDS prevention. Many participants said that they emphasize abstinence as the first choice for their players. I asked if youth usually abstain from sex until they are married and if the HIV rate has dropped in the past 10 years as long as abstinence has been widely promoted in African countries. Both questions got denied by the participants and they are also scientifically proven. We discussed the importance of education and how humans usually want to find out about things that are forbidden. The same applies for sex as youth want to find out about it when the only thing they get told is not to do it. The participants supported the idea that it is important to talk with their players about sexuality in order to build their confidence to make good and healthy choices for themselves. Those talks I have with participants of our programs almost every week and flyers like I have seen in VAP’s office make me dream for a future generation that will grow up in an environment where they can talk about sexuality, express their questions, fears, hopes and dreams, and develop self-esteem in order to appreciate that sex can be ‘safe and sweet’. And coaches like we have worked with in Nairobi will help to make this dream become true.


  • “What is the Biggest Obstacle to Equality?”

    May 11, 2014. The best first-day question ever asked by a CAC participant: FACT – Well, it may be, it may not be, but to be asked, “In all the countries you have visited, what do you think is the biggest obstacle in the way of equality?” on the very first day of training says a great deal about the wonderful people we work with.

    Oti leads the coaches in a fun game of Head-Catch, think fast!

    Oti leads the coaches in a fun game of Head-Catch, think fast!

    CAC continues its journey through Kenya, planting the seeds of social impact across this beautiful country. Last week found us in the city of Eldoret, known for its consistent success in athletics, but with a passion for the beautiful game that feeds right into the CAC fire.

    Senior staff member, Nora Dooley, leading our programs in Kenya this year, was joined by Community Impact Coach, Charles Otieno Sisia (Oti), from one of our most valued partners, Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP), as they trained the coaches in the sports network created by KESOFO (Kenya Community Sports Foundation).

    The group of participants this week included a wide range of characters, all with big smiles and big personalities. Our team, as always, had the welcome challenge of designing a curriculum that accommodated everyone, from very little football experience to lifetimes of playing and coaching the game, from referees to players to teachers, and even some journalists thrown in the mix, there was a wonderful mélange of culture and experience.

    Coaches work together during the Pairs Scrimmage

    Coaches work together during the Pairs Scrimmage

    All in all, the games this week went fantastically well as the participants were always ready to have fun and truly grasped the notion of using the power of football as a means of education. There were the usual favorites such as 95% Football, Adebayor Uses a Condom Tag, and Scary Soccer, but there were also some new standouts, the rising stars of the CAC curriculum. One of these games we are calling the Pairs Scrimmage – self-explanatory and unbelievably fun! Players must not let go of their partner’s hand while playing a regular game of football. This simple adjustment begs next-level teamwork and communication and the participants were seldom without a smile while they played.

    Another new game is part of our Child Rights module. After an enlightening Child Rights Protection discussion where equality was the prevailing issue, we played our Right of Children with Disabilities Game. This is another game that is, seemingly, a simple game of football. Then we add changes to trigger the desired social impact, and in this case that meant restrictions. One player on each team could only play 1-touch. One player on each team could only play with one of their feet. One player on one team had to play with one foot by jumping on that foot, while one player on the other team had to play with their arms behind their back. Two players could only walk, while the rest were without restrictions and could play as they pleased. We discussed the game afterwards and when asked why we play this game, participants responded with answers like, “challenging us to solve our problem!” – which we love – or “punishments if we make a mistake.” The latter response played perfectly into the matter at hand – were they punishments? Did you do anything to deserve them? The participant in question realized they had not, and then we transitioned into the discussion about whether people with physical and mental disabilities ask for those circumstances at birth. Of course not, so why should they be treated any differently from anybody else? This game provides a striking visual of the realities of having disabilities, the importance of understanding the difficulties that so many people struggle with every day, and the overwhelming need for social inclusion.

    Chalk it up to another terrific week in Kenya. These now CAC-certified coaches are some of the strongest, most assertive leaders we have worked with. From what our team saw during coaching sessions with children in the community, and from what we heard during discussions and closing remarks, these men and women get it – and they will undoubtedly be spreading the love, continuing to work together to harness the power of football in the greater Eldoret region in the name of youth development, female empowerment, and above all, equality.

    Students learn how to take care of their bodies during Ronaldo for Health & Wellness

    Students learn how to take care of their bodies during Ronaldo for Health & Wellness


    To learn how our Staff responded to that wonderfully biting question, comment below or email

  • Coaches Give Their Feedback from Kenya!

    July 12, 2013.  Last week CAC had a great week with Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP) in Nairobi, Kenya.  But don’t take our word for it.  Here are a few quotes from some of the participants!

    coaches Oti and Florence during training.

    Coaches Oti and Florence during training.

    Charles Otieno – Vijana Amani Pamoja Program Officer:

    To me the training was good.  And it not only taught us how to train our youth on football skills, but also helped to show us how to use football to teach social impact messages.  So in the end we are not only football coaches but we are also impacting the community through football.

    Florence Adhiambo – former Women’s U-17 National Team Coach and Former Women’s National Team Player:

    Mafundisho lmekuwaq mzuri sana na sis kama ma coach wa Kenya tumefundishwa mengi sana kuhusu witu tofauti.  Na nina lmani kuwa tutatumia kufunisha na.  Na tunashukuru nacoach waliotupa mafundisho Karibu Kenya.

    Translated: The training has been perfect and we as coaches of Kenya were being taught a lot about so many things.  I’m sure we are going to use the skills that we have been taught and we are grateful that the coaches have given us these ideas.  Welcome to Kenya.

    Morris Shikanda –Assistant Coach Kenya National Amputee Team and former Tusker (Kenyan) Premier League Player:

    Coach Morris helps coach the Kenyan National Amputee Team

    Coach Morris helps coach the Kenyan National Amputee Team

    It was a very good training program.  We will improve in a very good training program in Jericho if we put more into practice and also we will improve in social skills.

    Coach Justice at training

    Coach Justus at training

    Justus Muhati Ihaji – former Tusker (Kenyan) Premier League player and Umoja coach (youth team):

    A very good training programme that can provide a big impact to the kids.  Very good training options and it was fun to be here.

    Coach Pamela in action at training!

    Coach Pamela in action at training!

    Pamela Odhiambo – Team Manager for Pumzika FC in the Wazee Pamoja League:

    The training was easy and fun to learn.  We had more time to practice the skills and we came away finished having learn more.  It was exciting and welcome back to train us.

    Coach Linda warming up!

    Coach Linda warming up!

    Linda Belinda Katria  – Vijana Amani Pamoja Income Generating Activites Manager and Secretary:

    The activities were fun and easy to relate with, I am sure I will be able to practice it in schools.  It’s awesome.  Karibu Sana (translated: Most Welcomed).

  • Football Impacts and Ice Cream?

    July 5, 2013.  Returning to Nairobi, Coaches across Continents partnered with Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP) for a special 4th year in large part because of their outstanding commitment to sport for social impact.  Because of this, many of the 75 coaches we worked with were returning participants.  Does this mean we repeated the same stuff from last year?  Nope.  CAC brought with them a smorgasbord of new games.  Because most of these coaches were high quality footballers, our games were successfully tested and stretched to accommodate their skill.

    We also had a Coaches Across Continents first when a VAP coach, Oppo, decided it was time for an ice cream break and snuck off, during the middle of a game.  Needless to say, this sparked a daily tradition of grabbing a Toffee Choco Delight from the passing ice-cream wagon after each session.

    Wednesday afternoon brought Meg and Charlie to a local school where one of our hosts, Hussein Habib, has been running an all-girls team, the Golden Angels, since 2006.  The 15 year old girls were a pleasure to work with.  They had not only mastered many of the nuances of the game, but their skill and problem solving ability easily rivaled the adult coaches in our regular sessions.

    It was an excellent continuation of our partnership with VAP and a heck of a start to the next 5 weeks of CAC working in Kenya with AJ, Charlie, and Meg.  On to Marsabit and HODI!image