• Pacquiao Loses, Tacloban Wins

    May 13th 2015. Community Impact Coach, Charlie Pomroy, from Cambodia implementing partner, Globalteer, gives us the play by play for our second year with Football 4 Life in Tacloban, Philippines.

    Day One

    I would consider myself somewhat of a traveler. I have traveled to many countries, seen amazing places and met amazing people along the way. I have also had my fair share of mishaps but nothing could have prepared me for my first away trip with CAC. With what should have been a routine journey from Siem Reap in Cambodia, where I have been based running a sports programme for the past three years, to Tacloban in the Philippines, turned into one of the longest journeys of my traveling career. After several cancellations and delays, a missed boat, and a nap outside a Wendy’s at Manila airport, my trip had racked up 37 hours. This was only bettered by Nora who had traveled for 50 hours from Indonesia.

    In true CAC style, fresh from the boat and with luggage in hand, we landed in Tacloban and got straight onto the soccer field. With half the day behind us, Nora and I quickly got stuck in and began with the warm up game; Circle of Friends, followed by the Messi games. First impression of the group in the Philippines is a good one. The group is enthusiastic, eager to learn and ready to have fun. I coach my first CAC game: Messi for Conflict Resolution. I have been eager to get my hands on the group and enjoy the session. What strikes me when I am coaching is just how open the group is. This throws me ever so slightly. When coaching in Cambodia it can sometimes be like pulling teeth to get them to talk and open up, so discussion time is hard. Cambodians are shy. It feels like they don’t want to trouble anyone with their problems, so they suffer in silence. What really hits me about this group, in the Philippines, is that they are so open and confident. They are aware of their issues and are ready to find ways to solve them. It’s really refreshing. The rest of the afternoon flies by.

    Despite being so very tired, working with a group like this gives you so much energy. You want to work harder because you can really see, instantly, the right notes are being hit. Nora and I discuss the next few days and become really excited about the prospect of challenging this group. Their surface answers are fantastic but can we get a little deeper? As coaches this is the kind of stuff you live for. This is why we do what we do. This is why it is the best job in the world. Roll on tomorrow!………. Oh there is the small matter of Mayweather & Pacquiao, not that anyone here in the Philippines has mentioned it…hehehe…!!!!

    Day Two

    The world title fight lost us most of the day, the Philippines came to a complete stand still to watch their national hero Pacquiao lose on points to Floyd Mayweather. It wasn’t the result we had hoped for. The whole country was upset. Some were angry, others were crying. This was a massive blow.

    Nora and I knew the group would be down so wanted to be high energy and give them lots of fun games to play. The group turned up on the field still visibly upset about the morning’s events. We started with a financial literacy game so that we could get the energy up from the off. It worked. We then launched into Perpetua Skills for Life followed by two more games.

    It was during Perpetua for Conflict resolution that something struck me and as I began to think about it further it brought a smile to my face. One of the female coaches, Patty, was moving the ball from one end of the field to the other using a very unorthodox method (the challenge of the game being to find different, creative ways to move the ball). The smile on her face was electric. She was beaming from ear to ear. I looked around and everyone was doing it. The weight of the loss that morning had gone. I was then reminded of a film I had watched about the Typhoon that had hit Tacloban in 2013, which featured Patty. She said in the film that soccer had helped her through that. Soccer had given her the strength to begin rebuilding and to begin dreaming again. This made me smile from ear to ear. This beautiful game has the power to change lives. No matter the loss, no matter the heartache there are some of us that are lucky enough to be able to turn to soccer and let that help us through.

    Tomorrow we go deeper and begin to challenge the group.

    Day Three

    It was our first full day with the group and as we arrived at the pitch Nora and I were very excited. We opened the day with Jack Wilshere. The group was in tip-top form and getting through the games very quickly. I coached three games with my favorite being Wilshere for Conflict Resolution. This game really focuses the group and they are forced to work together to find a solution to their problem.

    The group has some really strong female leaders here in the Philippines. It’s really refreshing to see. However, the most notable thing about today is the young boys, from a local drop in center, coming to life. They’re growing each and every session and it’s a wonderful thing to watch. At the beginning of the week they were unsure of their surroundings and very reluctant to get involved but as the days have gone by and as the games come thick and fast they are really beginning to get a sense of what sport for social impact means. The coach-backs tomorrow should be a lot of fun.

    Day Four

    Today was coach-backs and by far my favorite day so far. This is the day we really get to see how much has sunk in and we can begin developing social impact coaches. The coaches have an excellent morning. What I really love about the group is they are challenging themselves. They are not choosing easy games and just copying what they have been taught, they are really trying to adapt the games. The girls in particular today are excelling. As I mentioned before the group here in the Philippines has some extraordinary girls and some fantastic role models for the next generation.

    During lunch Nora and I watch one of the younger girls in the group spend the whole lunch break kicking a soccer ball against a wall. She is having a great time. What is wonderful about this moment is outside of the soccer field this girl is so very shy. She is nervous talking to people, she was reluctant to be part of photos and rarely interacts with other people. Put a soccer ball at her feet and she comes to life, her confidence grows, she takes on players and she runs at full speed. This girl doesn’t have a care in the world when she has a football at her feet.

    It is a great moment for Nora and me and one we enjoyed watching.

    Day Five

    Today was a day off. Nora and I used the time to get our admin work done and so forth. The highlight of the day though was not the fantastic hot chocolate I had or not having to set an alarm. It was the moment when Nora and I were walking to an ATM and across the road were three of the coaches from the course coaching a group of children. The young girl I mentioned from yesterday came running out and gave us both a giant hug.

    You cannot buy moments like that!!!

  • CAC and TYSA – From a CIC

    May 7, 2014. Charles Otieno Sisia (Oti) from long-time CAC partner, Vijana Amani Pamoja (VAP) in Nairobi, joins CAC programs for his second year as a Community Impact Coach. He writes about his week with Trans-Nzoia Youth Sports Association (TYSA) where he joined CAC staff member, Nora Dooley, for a week in Kitale, Kenya.

    Oti leads participants in the ever-favorite Mingle MIngle

    Oti leads participants in the ever-favorite Coaches Across Continents game Mingle Mingle

    Another great year at TYSA. This was the second year that CAC worked with the partner organization based in Trans-Nzoia County, Kenya.

    TYSA organized a one week camp with more than a hundred participants and half of them participated in the CAC training from Monday 28th April to Friday 2nd May at Makutano Secondary School.

    Over the training Nora Dooley, an experienced and motivated CAC coach, led the on-field and off-field sessions assisted by myself, Charles Otieno Sisia, as I was selected for the second year as a CAC Community Impact Coach (CIC). Before the start the participants highlighted the issues they face in Trans-Nzoia and what they would like to learn from CAC. Some of the issues included child labor, neglect, early marriage, lack of education, alcohol and drug abuse, lack of career opportunities, negative peer pressure, and malnutrition. A major part of the week was spent playing games that focused on leadership, voice, education, identifying and creating safe spaces, and complete health and wellness.

    Protect your body from germs - Hygiene Tag!

    Protect your body from germs – Hygiene Tag!

    Off-field sessions were held in the school hall where the participants took notes and asked questions about the sessions that they were now able to teach.

    The participants gained more confidence, voice, and leadership skills after playing the Circle of Friends, doing the skills of Wilshere and Marta, and also they got an opportunity to teach back what they had learned to the younger participants, and clearly deliver social impact messages.

    The participants declared to fight for their rights and child rights, and to protect and never abuse children. This was the bill of rights and child protection session with Coach Nora.

    Gazza Safe Spaces Tag was one of the best games talking about space spaces when home was not a safe space for everyone. Women empowerment activities were superb with girls now having a voice to ask for their rights and room in sporting activities, careers and other opportunities. Health games also worked well for both genders and participants were able to talk about their bodies during Hygiene Tag.

    The participants graduated and have now joined us to educate more people on football for social impact by teaching the CAC sessions.

    Scary Soccer getting pretty scary! Oti stays cool

    Scary Soccer getting pretty scary! Oti stays cool working with Coaches Across Continents

     

  • Football Skills for Life

    IMG_8762At Coaches Across Continents we recognize the correlation between football and life. Our curriculum harnesses the power of football to teach lessons spanning a broad spectrum of social issues. In order to address these social issues in a productive, forward-thinking manner, there are certain life skills that we believe we all need to tap into. These are the baseline skills, the fundamentals, the abilities that translate naturally from our lives on the football field into our lives in our community. They include verbal and nonverbal communication, concentration, teamwork, confidence, awareness, and other capabilities that can and should manifest in our everyday lives. These also include hygiene, employability, literacy, financial literacy, child rights, among other everyday necessities that we cover in our curriculum.

    All social skills can come to the surface on the traditional football pitch, but we bring them to life in all of our games, using our unique coaching methods that stimulate social impact. The first of these games that any CAC partner program will play is Ronaldo Skills for Life. In this game we have three fun skills involving scissors, fakes, and step-overs that the players learn while shouting out at each turn, “Ronaldo 1!” or “Ronaldo 2!” or “Ronaldo 3!”. The same goes for each of our players from Marta and Messi to Rapinoe and Wilshere.

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    When we coach Skills for Life games, one of the most essential aspects of our methodology is the slow progression. We often ask our participants whether we all learn at the same pace, and understanding that we do not, in school, on the field, or elsewhere, is a crucial step in working with children. We start these techniques slowly, without the ball, then we add a touch or two, then we build up to dribbling, and in this manner we not only build muscle memory and improve our footwork, but we work on concentration – for our voice must match our feet – spatial awareness – for we do not dribble or walk or run with our head down – confidence – for we share our voices with our teammates loud and proud – and readiness – for we only work on skills in a circular setting.

    All over the world community leaders have learned these football techniques, so valuable when competing on the pitch, and paired with life techniques, so valuable when taken into the context of our lives.  One of the principal upshots of our Skills for Life module, that then pervades the rest of our curriculum, is the ability to use one’s voice.  Whether calling for the ball or shouting out “Ronaldo 1” every time we do the first Ronaldo skill, the power of the voice transcends the boundaries of the football field. We have taught these games to partners in Northern Uganda, where former child soldiers are being reintegrated into society after facing the horrors of the LRA. Afraid to speak for fear of being physically or sexually abused, their voices were stifled. Our games, our coaches, help them reclaim their voice, their confidence, their ability to make their own choices in life.

    Our Monitoring & Evaluation tells us that 98% of our participants can now teach young people through soccer to find creative solutions to their problems rather than asking for the answer, up from 27% before our program.

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  • Football for Conflict Resolution

    Solve your problem; CAC words to live by. The underlying message behind such a simple instruction is that you are looking for an answer; I will not give you one, so find it yourself.

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    Coaches Across Continents works in some of the most conflict-ridden communities in the world. Our Conflict Resolution games work to confront issues in places such as Sierra Leone where many of our participants are amputees as a result of civil war. An integral part of this module is social inclusion as we work to combat discrimination and solve problems in a peaceful, inclusive manner.

    These messages comes to life in many of our games, but they is especially magnified in the Conflict Resolution aspect of our curriculum. In these games more than any others we separate the football for social impact coaches from the football coaches. The best way to explain is with an example. In the game Wilshere for Conflict Resolution there are five cones creating a pentagon. Behind each cone is a line of anywhere from 1 to 4 players but should not be more than 4. The only rule in this game is that players must pass the ball to one line and run to a different line, or in other words, they cannot follow their pass. What usually happens next is a moment of calm, and then many mistakes. Passes will be sloppy, players will take multiple touches before making their mind up, they will forget the only rule, and once they stop doing that, they will pass to the line with only one person in it, meaning it will then become empty. This is what we want.

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    This one rule forces players to think before they make decisions, and the conflict is inevitable. Our goal in this type of game is to provoke that conflict, and then we say, solve your problem! The players will often look first to the coach for answers because so many societies have ingrained that sense of dependency on authority figures such as teachers and coaches – but not here. They look to us, we say solve your problem, and then what? Magic happens. The players strategize, they start communicating – verbally and non-verbally – they get into a rhythm, quality of passing improves, fewer touches are needed, and they are working as a team. To make it more difficult we can add another ball, we can limit touches to 2 or even 1, and we can give them an objective to reach a certain number of passes without a mistake, or to play for one minute without a mistake. If there is a mistake, we ask, who suffers in football if a player gets a red card? The same goes for this game, if one player makes a mistake, we all pay the price.

    At our level in coaching football for social impact these types of games are invaluable.  They enable players to think for themselves and find solutions to their own problems, individually and as a team.  These skills are important for all of us, and this manner of coaching is crucial for coaches to adopt if we want the next generation to be one of free-thinking self-directed learners.  Ultimately these self-directed learners will be able to apply their critical thinking skills to all aspects of their lives.  The local coaches and young players will be able to create solutions to whatever problems exist in their communities, the countries, and the world.  They will not look to outsiders or to the West for solutions, they will look to themselves. When given the opportunity, when given the chance, children will surprise us all – in a game that has one problem, they will find infinite solutions, and in life when faced with important choices, they will make the right ones.

    Extensive Monitoring & Evaluation has given our team some insight into the work we do regarding conflict resolution and social inclusion. Before our program only 19% of participants knew how to use football to teach young people how best to resolve conflict, and afterward, 99% have the skill set to do just that.

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