• Coaches Across Continents in Ghana

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    Emily from Coaches Across Continents, making the young people smile.

    April 2, 2012:  Working with our implementing partner, Youth Icons, Ghana, Coaches Across Continents added a new program before the national launch of Kicking4Change with Standard Chartered Bank.  The new program is Dream Big Ghana, a group that works in Dzita (pronounced “Jeetah”) in the Volta Region.  This is a collection of beach villages that rely on fishing and farming, and it appears that generations have done exactly as their parents have done.  Dream Big Ghana is a locally-owned and run NGO already support other projects such as turtle conservation and building composting toilets.  Now, they are starting a sport for social development program in the area.

    Head coaches Tigo and Boutros have big hearts, grand ideas, and the personalities to pull off great things.  Already entrenched in the local communities these two are greeted and respected by people of all ages.  It feels like you are walking with the mayor of Dzita when you stroll through the alleyways with Tigo hearing his name shouted around every corner.  The name of their soccer field is “the Sahara,” a wide, windy expanse of packed sand behind the village.  It is here that the youth teams, senior team, and girls team play almost daily.  We worked with the older players, treating them as coaches so that they can pass along the messages to the rest of the community.  And in the mornings we would visit schools to work directly with the children.

    The sport for social development program is in its infancy in Dzita.  Future plans include creating a program between the local six villages, using practices to teach the younger players important life lessons.  Plans also include working in the local schools, using the soccer teams for community service, and creating a sustainable league for the younger teams coached by the older players.

    Coaches Across Continents is launching the new Financial Literacy program with Standard Chartered Bank in Ghana called Kicking4Change.

    Plans are big here in Dzita, and in just two short weeks you can see the community embracing the lessons being taught including health & wellness (including HIV), financial literacy, and female empowerment.

    Coaches Across Contintents looks forward to continuing our work with Dream Big Ghana throughout 2012.  With Coach Emily living nearby in Accra, CAC is able to plan for future visits and to continue the progress made towards Tigo and Boutros’ grand vision.

  • Partnering with Youth Icons and Standard Chartered Bank in Ghana

    October 18th, 2011 from Jaren in Ghana:

    Friday September 30th the Coaches Across Continents Team Ghana assembled. The first time volunteers (Marisa Brown, Emily Lambert, and Jaren LaGreca) joined forces with CAC founder and Global Strategist, Nick Gates. For this particular trip the CAC team has the pleasure of working with the Ghana Youth Icons organization led by Nana Yaw Osei-Darkwa. The Ghana Youth Icons aim to empower young adolescents and give them a voice in their communities to create positive change. Naturally this idea of ‘empowering adolescents to create positive change’ fits well within the mission of CAC, so when we all met together for the first time there was an immediate understanding and enthusiasm for what we hoped to accomplish.

    We all spent the first night together in Accra to catch our bearings before embarking on an 11 hour bus trip to the northern province of Ghana and the township of Tamale.  At 6am the next morning we were off, and I found myself in awe as we winded our way up the lush green hills of Ghana, Accra slowly sinking away in the distance. My initial awe was soon replaced with anxiety as we navigated tight roads and saw mangled cars that were last night’s casualties of the jungle.  I think I counted 8 accidents in the span of about 10 miles. The excitement continued and soon after we were introduced to one of Ghana’s most abundant animals, the goat, as we ran one over with the van.  While the trip was long – it was far from boring and that night we settled into our hotel in Tamale.

    Our first day in Tamale was pretty indescribable, but I will do my best to recall the details. As I remember it, we all awoke and climbed into the van at about 8am to take a little tour of the city and restock on supplies. However, soon after we left we all realized we weren’t just going out to explore, rather we were going to see the chief of Tamale at his palace. As we pulled up to a large circular hut we found ourselves in the middle of a brawl between two conflicting parties that had traveled to the chief to try and settle their dispute. We watched from the security of our van as fists flew, kicks and blows exchanged, and people angrily chased each other around the compound (non-violent conflict resolution is an issue we are addressing in our training). I remember thinking “what have I got myself into?” Eventually, we were escorted into the large circular hut where the chief resides. As we entered the hut we were kindly greeted by the chief and his council of elders. A conversation then ensued between the chief’s speaker and us; through his speaker, the chief expressed his gratitude and excitement for our presence in Tamale and the education we hoped to impart with its people. The whole exchange was rather traditionalized and in effect we were gaining endorsement from the chief.

    The next big event came the following day with the kick-off of the program.  A large press conference was put together at a local soccer stadium where teachers, the media, school board officials, the chief and his elders, and representatives from our sponsors all convened to explain what we hope to achieve in the coming weeks.  The event was a huge success, over a hundred people were in attendance and various media outlets began running stories about our program. Later in the afternoon we then held our first coaching session. The aim of our program is to use soccer to educate physical education teachers about life skills and financial literacy so that they can then pass the knowledge on to their students in a way that is both fun and sustainable. Roughly 100 teachers were in attendance, each of which teaches about 100 students.  In effect, our program will reach 10,000 students within the coming weeks, absolutely incredible. This first session was a simple introductory session but it was full of energy. I remember being impressed by the teachers’ desire to learn; you can just tell that many of them are striving to be the next leaders within their communities. If you talk to them they will tell you that they want to give their kids an education and opportunities that they never had, and do what they can to improve the lives of people in their communities.  As educators ourselves, this is exactly the kind of attitudes we were hoping to see and so CAC and the Ghana Youth Icons are confident that after two weeks of training positive change will be inevitable.