• Reducing Teen Pregnancy through Soccer

    On December 22nd, 2017. Community Impact Coach, Nicholaus Achimpota, from Tanzania writes about running a CAC program in Kigoma, alone. Nico is pictured above from another training he helped run in Pemba, Zanzibar. 

    My name is Nicholaus Achimpota. I have a Bachelor of Sports Science and Management at Ndejje University in Uganda. I have worked with CAC since 2008. In the last 10 years I have worked with the government as a sports officer in Kigoma, and for 3 years as the Chamwino district update.

    My job is training and monitoring the sports teachers, conducting workshops and seminars to club leaders, acting as the assistant registrar of the sports association and clubs planning yearly sports programs in my district. I work with 120 primary schools and 28 secondary schools.

    This week it was my first time to run the CAC program alone. It was not easy to believe that CAC would trust me to run the program in country, completely alone, without the leader from CAC staff – but they did!

    I was very happy to have this opportunity and I want to say thank you to all of the CAC staff for giving me this work. This means that I opened the door for other CAC members to work in their communities without the direct on-field overseeing of CAC.

    In the first day the participants didn’t believe what happened. During the introduction for the Sports Officer, Mr. Abdul, everyone was surprised that the program was being ran by me (Nicholaus) because the last year was ran by CAC’s Emily from America.

    At the end of the first day one of the coaches, Anastasia Busumabi, came to me and she said “Coach Nico, we understood the way you taught and how to use soccer to teach social issues. Because of the language barriers, we have feared to ask questions in previous years.” Another teacher Singo said “By bringing you here, it means even us we can do the same as you”. Which is the purpose of the Community Impact Coach program – to empower coaches to be leaders and role models for other coaches in their communities.

    The five-day program was based on how to use CAC games to prevent social issues specifically teenage pregnancy. So, we emphasized the games for conflict prevention, skills for life, HIV and gender equality.

    The participants impressed me, and motivated me to do all the best to make sure they understood how to use soccer to teach social issues to the community.

    It was very fun after four years to be back again to Kigoma and enjoy the nice food that they had to offer. Migebuka is the type of fish available at Lake Tanganyika and was my favorite during my stay. On Thursday afternoon I helped the teachers learn how to play Woodball.

    To be honest it was a great experience for me to learn and share skills with teachers in my country. Moreover, I never forgot to sing with them the song “Amatosa” and different concentration games. Nothing is impossible under the sun. It is important that all communities benefit with the CAC saying “Smile and solve your problem”.

    I am the first Community Impact Coach to run a program alone in Kigoma.

    Many more will follow the way. Goodbye Kigoma.

  • Free On The Field

    May 30th 2017. CAC Global Citizen Joseph Lanzillo returns to work with CAC and the Ministry of Sport in Unguja, Zanzibar. 

    This week we were back on the largest island of Zanzibar, Unguja, for what is now the fifth consecutive year. Community Impact Coach Nico and I participated here for the first time, though Nick has been here almost every year. With nearly eighty participants, a pristine turf field at the city stadium, adequate cones, and a horde of One World Futbols, we could not have asked for a better setup for our program. The end result did not disappoint – we dodged (almost all of) the rain, played over forty different games, and capped off our excellent week with a much-hyped full-field match between coaches and teachers. Though we ran the program at a fast pace, we did not sacrifice depth: we had a number of substantial discussions about opportunities for girls and women – on and off the field – the rights of children, and how the prevailing Islamic culture in the Zanzibar archipelago underpins local attitudes on these topics. All around, we had a fantastic week.

    One of the best things about the week was just another simple reminder about why the sports field is such a special place.  On the field, people are free. Free to express themselves in the way they play each game. Despite a language barrier, I’ve often felt like I get to know each participant personally by watching how they play; the way they run or approach the ball reveals something about a player’s personality. It is nothing short of beautiful to assemble a group of men and women of widely ranging ages and watch each of them light up when they receive the ball, or solve a problem, or, most brilliantly, when they celebrate scoring, and to witness them shed some of the restraint they may exhibit off the field. Ultimately, stepping onto the field grants players the liberty to be themselves. It is a form of expression, and the games we play make this joy accessible to participants of any age or ability. For many, sports can be an outlet or a refuge from anything else in their lives; once they take the field, nothing outside of the field matters anymore. While football has this power in all corners of the globe, somehow I never get tired of recognizing it.  

    Realizing this anew underscored for me the significance of a major focus of our program: the value of offering all children – boys and girls alike –  the opportunity to play sports, and secondly, ensuring that those children are protected from all forms of abuse on the field. When communities and families can be rife with conflict, violence and abuse, the opportunity to play freely and safely is ever more valuable to children. To deny that to any child, whether because of their gender or ability or by allowing the field to become an abusive environment, slims the chance that any of those children will grow up to escape the cycle of violence. In our program, we spent considerable time discussing the ways that adults abuse children, how to recognize this abuse, and, most crucially, how to find other ways for our coach and teacher participants to discipline their children. We devoted several other conversations to discussing how and why girls are excluded from sports, finding that the often strict Islamic culture discourages people from allowing girls to play sports, football in particular. Though opposing a dominant religion can stir controversy, as the participants seemed to decide that their girls did in fact have the right to play sports, we explored ways that they could offer girls the opportunity to play without contradicting religion. There remains a significant cultural resistance to overcome, but we tried to avoid pitting girls playing sports against our participants’ religion.

    The Ministry of Education also plans to implement CAC curriculum in all of the schools in Unguja, so we can now see how the five years of CAC programs have been appealing to people, and that the discussions we’ve begun on the field have spread off the field throughout the other 51 weeks each year. Excited to see what this program will look like in its sixth year!

  • New Generation Queens

    August 26th 2016. CAC and New Generation Queens assisted a group of high school soccer players on a trip to Zanzibar. Ben Kahrl and Toni Lansbury wrote about their visit.

    When the Zanzibari women came to the field, I recognized several of them and felt like I was meeting movie stars. In fact, I was. Riziki, Little Messi, their coach. I was living what I had seen only on the screen. But perhaps I’m getting ahead of myself.

    On a very snowy winter afternoon, eighteen months before, two varsity college soccer players had come to my classroom to talk about their experiences volunteering with Coaches Across Continents. I had seen a story about the two women on Harvard’s Athletic Department website and invited them to come and talk. They were inspiring, just a few years older than my students and going off around the world and using soccer to bridge cultural divides. They spoke of how soccer was helping break down cultural barriers, change traditions, and help gain equality in parts of the world that held traditional beliefs about the role of women in society. Then, I heard about women soccer players on Zanzibar and wondered if we could go there too, meet with them, and play a little bit of the beautiful game. Coaches Across Continents had helped Meg Shutzer make a film, “New Generation Queens” about one of the few women’s soccer teams on the island of Zanzibar. Throughout, we could see many of the challenges, and successes, of these women, in playing the game they loved. My own daughter, just thirteen, and several of my own students loved the game. I asked Meg and Nick Gates if we could take a small group of Americans to Zanzibar and play a few games. Indeed, we could and more.

    And so, a year’s worth of planning later, here we were, walking onto Zanzibar’s national stadium. We met with staff from the Ministry of Sport before taking the pitch ourselves with a group of schoolboys. The next hour was full of boisterous play, even while few of the boys spoke English and none of the Americans spoke more than two words of Swahili, but play together we did. A soccer ball in our midst, a few bilingual instructions from the coach, and we were off.

    That night, we drove to the field next to the prison, a scene that looked suddenly very familiar.

    We arrived to find energetic young boys running around, who immediately engaged our players. The sheer joy of seeing our players kicking the ball with a group of adorable six year old boys set the tone. Slowly, the Queens showed up, and there was a little bit of magic in the air. Onto the field strutted Riziki, a powerful presence in the movie and on the field. There was Messi too—another movie “star” who we were now meeting in person, almost seven months after we’d met her on screen. We mixed up the teams so that Zanzibaris and muzungus from America were on both teams, tossed the ball into the middle and were underway. The soccer was fast paced, and attracted a big crowd of passers-by –women in colorful hijabs dotted the perimeter. Men and children were cheering and clapping.

    Five minutes into the game, I found out that, however good-natured these women were, this was not just for fun, as my feet got swept out from under me and my opponent went zipping off with the ball that was no longer in my possession.  At age thirteen, my daughter was the youngest player, and, at age forty-nine, I’d lost more than a step or two. After what seemed like an hour, their coach, who was our referee, blew the whistle to signal halftime….

    One of the parents who was part of our group watched her daughter from the sidelines, as she had countless times before:

    As a parent whose daughter has been playing soccer since she was five, on recreation teams, travel and town teams, club teams and high school varsity teams, and will be playing in college this fall, I have been on the sidelines of hundreds and hundreds of soccer games. This one was different, and one I’ll always remember. With the sun beating down on us, the dirt kicking up, the little boys running with big smiles all around the field, this moment illustrated what I’ve always known to be true– that soccer is a bridge. It’s like a language everyone can speak, as soon as they can kick a ball. It matters little if the players are the same color, come from different geographical places, or religious ones, whether you’re a spectator or a player, soccer breaks down impenetrable barriers and makes a safe place for people to communicate.

    The African sun was making it hard on us, but on we played, back and forth, chattering away in Swahili and English, most of which we didn’t understand, but conversing in soccer, which we all did together. Finally, the whistle blew with a 5-5 tie. We pulled together for pictures and noticed a large crowd had gathered to see the strong woman playing soccer and the American muzungus who had joined them.

    It was the first, but not the last, game we would share.

    Two days later, Fatma Ahmed, our wondrous guide, took our team bus to another field, this one smaller, with a telephone pole planted almost exactly in the middle. A few minutes later, the Women Fighters team showed up. Again, we mixed the teams. Again the soccer was both fun and hard fought. And again, the beautiful game was the common language with us all. Afterwards, as we began to gather in the fading light for a picture, Fatma introduced us to a friend, and casually mentioned she was the coach for the Zanzibar women’s national team. Indeed.

    IMG_1042

  • Thank You CAC: Humbling Words From a Pemba Participant

    May 18th 2016. This blog comes to us from the words of a participant (Hassan) in his speech to CAC staff and guests during the certificate ceremony in Pemba, in partnership with the Zanzibar Football Association, the Ministry of Sports, and Save the Children.

    Honorable Minister of Sports, Assistant Minister of Sports, Our coaches Mr. Nick and Madam Nora:

    First of all we would like to thank all of you for conducting good, well and enjoyable training for one week. Apart from that we make a promise in front of you that we will protect children and we will stand in front of any who struggle for their rights.

    Our trainers:

    We have special thanks to you for your cooperation during training and general speaking we can’t deny that we enjoy your tactics, techniques, and your innovation. You have bring us in a safe space and now we will use your knowledge and experience we get from you and impart it to our children.

    Uncountable thanks should be received to the first coach in the world, Mr. Nicky, for organizing us and make us to feel free all over the time during the training. Throughout the training we learned that:

    • Women can do well in sports if they will be supported
    • We understand that children have knowledge
    • We learn that we should give our children choice
    • We learn that we ought to talk with children and not talk to children

    Frankly speaking we have learned a lot and we will use all them for social impacts.

    Special thanks I send it as my reward to Madam Nora – for teaching us Kuku dance, a lot we may forget… but never Kuku dance.

    We have nothing to give our coaches for excellent work they have done to us except to tell them: Thank you very much for what you have done and we will use knowledge for social impacts.

    Thanks; Goodbye; See you again; Relax and have a safe journey.

    DSC06585

    DSC06335

  • The Future of Women’s Rights in Islam and Zanzibar

    May 12th 2016. MJPT young leader, Fatma Said Ahmed, answers CAC questions about our recent training in Unguja, Zanzibar in partnership with the Ministry of Sport, the Zanzibar Football Association, and Save the Children.

    • How did you get involved with CAC?

    I first heard about Coaches Across Continents from Zanzibar National Sports Council and I got involved with CAC as a volunteer helping translate English to Swahili during the one week training at Unguja, Zanzibar. I was lucky enough to meet the amazing Coaches and learn from them, thanks to Nick and Nora. I also learnt CAC activities through website.

    • Tell us about your work and activism in Zanzibar:

    I work at Stand For Humanity as the Founder and Managing Director. Stand For Humanity is a Non-Profit Organization. The mission is to serve and provide humanitarian actions to people in need, to advocate for justice in social structures and to call the stakeholders and other people of good will to do the same. Vision: “Having a youth that is dynamic, active, responsible and committed in the development process”. I have done and organize different activities such as Online Campaigns on Child’s rights and development, joining the joint events (International Women’s Day, International Midwife Day, World Read Aloud Day, Earth Day etc.) and outreach programs.

    I work as a volunteer in youth development organizations. I once started to volunteer at Zanzibar Youth Forum around 2013 and got the chance to join the UNFPA Youth Advisory Panel on communications and host the Facebook closed group of YAP (Youth Advisory Panel). YAP was established to give young people the right to advise UNFPA on issues concerning adolescents and youth. I have take part on relevant issues such as capacity building, advocacy, policy dialogues and outreach.

    I also volunteer at AfriYAN (African Youth and Adolescents Network on Population and Development) as the Secretary General of AfriYAN Tanzania Chapter.

    • What did you learn from the week of training with CAC in Unguja?

    During the week of training with CAC I’ve learned so many things on how sports can bring positive social change such as:-

    Child rights (Freedom of expression, right to information and responsibility to the community)

    Gender equity + Female empowerment (ASK for choice)

    Skills for life – problem solving

    Conflict prevention

    Sports skills

    • What do you think needs to happen in order for women and men/girls and boys to be treated equally in Zanzibar?

    Awareness about gender equality must be raised at schools so that children and young people could be aware that girls and boys/men and women have equal rights that what men can do women can do. Breaking the social and cultural barriers that hinders girl’s empowerment. Also raise awareness to public; show and tell; engage with influential leaders and community members.

    • What are you most excited about for your upcoming week in Dallas?

    I’m so excited about my upcoming week in Dallas; I can’t wait to start my once-in-a-lifetime journey and get to learn from the Olympic Legend Michael Johnson at the performance center.  Learning and sharing ideas, experiences. I also expect to get mentored to become a future leader.

    DSC06117

    Zanzibari women and men design a local women’s rights policy.

  • Evaluating Coaches Across Continents’ 2015 Impact So Far

    “The best thing about working with Coaches Across Continents is the unique and special impact of the CAC program.”

    Paul Lwanga, Football for Hope, Peace & Unity participant, Rwanda.

    August 17th 2015. Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) plays an important part in everything we do at Coaches Across Continents: baseline/endline surveys involve every coach, and quantitative and qualitative data is collected at every program. CAC uses its data and statistics to evaluate current practice as well as to inform future developments.

    Comprehensive needs analysis allows CAC to identify the greatest social impact needs and priorities and to design locally relevant programs for partners. Baseline statistics demonstrate the initial attitudes, skills and knowledge of the coaches, including what they know about child protection, their understanding of football for social impact, or their inclination towards gender equality in sport.

    For example, only 15% of participants had ever coached a game of football for social impact before working with CAC in 2015 and only 7% of coaches have had training in how to protect children on the sports field. In many communities, less than a third of local coaches were coaching or planning on coaching girls prior to working with CAC in 2015. In some programs, none of the participants were coaching or planning on coaching girls.

    CAC’s WISER M&E model makes it possible to follow the growth of the organization as well as to identify the successes and impacts programs are having year-round in communities.

    Since the beginning of 2015, 19,376 On-Field coaching education hours have been dedicated to local communities. CAC has worked with 51 implementing partners, 823 community partners, and 2,225 local coaches. In total so far, CAC has reached 180,879 youth in 2015. At this time of year in 2014, CAC had only worked with 42 implementing partners, 685 community members, 1,859 local coaches and had reached 132,375 youth.

    In addition to On-Field coaching education, CAC delivers year-round support to partner programs such as Online Coaching Education, curriculum development, strategic planning, M&E development, social media support or sharing of best practices. This maximizes social impact and allows for the incredible impacts our partners achieve in their local communities.

    Some of the successes so far this year have included:

    – local coaches implementing the CAC curriculum with indigenous children to educate on drug abuse in Mexico.

    – the launch of a menstruation awareness and sanitary towel collection campaign to “encourage men to be more involved in what the adolescent girls and women go through in their menstruation cycle” in Nairobi, Kenya.

    – the creation of an entirely new NGO, ‘Green-Kenya’ for better implementation of the CAC curriculum in Kenyan communities with a specific focus on the environment.

    – the expansion of implementing partner Uni Papua to 28 communities in Indonesia.

    – the start of numerous new female empowerment through sport initiatives in Cameroon, Kenya, Zanzibar, and India.

    – the incorporation of CAC HIV games into daily trainings in Hyderabad, India, a topic that was previously avoided due to cultural sensitivities. Local coaches are now openly discussing sexual education in Hyderabad through sport for social impact.

    – the Mbarara community in Western Uganda working to build primary and secondary schools with playgrounds in order to provide children with sport for social impact education.

    For more information on Coaches Across Continents’ impacts in developing communities, you can read the ‘2014 In Review’ report.

    DSC01179