• On the Sandy Grounds of Maramba

    Community Impact Coach Frank Chivawura, from Zimbabwe, writes about his work with CAC and New Hope Waves in Livingstone, Zambia.

    July 5th 2016. The amazing thing about sport is that despite our differences, it brings us together. I was privileged to meet with Nora, Carrie and Nico, the CAC coaches at Harare’s Prince Edwards Boys High where they were facilitating a Coaches Across Continents (CAC) training in Zimbabwe, in conjunction with Sports Recreation Commission of Zimbabwe. The experience in Zambia would not have been the same without this vibrant group.

    It was a long journey from Zimbabwe, Harare to Livingstone, Zambia. Nico and I left for Zambia at 17:00hrs only to arrive in Livingstone, Zambia at 07:30 the following morning. This was my second time as a Community Impact Coach (CIC) but my first time travelling internationally with Coaches Across Continents.

    It was an exciting week in Livingstone. CAC was working with the New Hope Waves in the sandy Namatama grounds of Maramba. Being the second time as a CIC, the first time being in my country Zimbabwe, I had thought that all was going to be the same as the last time, but I was wrong. It was a different country, place, ground, different CAC coaches, and even the way the curriculum was delivered was different and more exciting.

    I had the opportunity to train more than 30 community coaches who were a delight to work with. They were passionate and very eager to learn more games.  What excited me the most was the feedback we had every morning when the coaches came to the field for training. From the day we started training with the few games that the coaches learnt, the games were already being implemented. Some of the coaches had teams they were training in the afternoons and the CAC games were already being used. It made me feel so warm inside. I felt so much confidence and it made me realise that it can only take but a few to change the way people think in life. Already, I could see change in the coaches. Coaches started coming early and could not wait to start training. And in the afternoons they implemented what they had learnt. All this made me recall this statement from one of the CAC leaders Adam Burgess, “being on the field when you see children and coaches smiling you know that learning is taking place”.  Coaches were smiling and so excited to know what was coming next which was a good sign. Even When Nora, who was leading our group, asked for the coaches to go for water breaks, on several occasions you would hear the coaches saying ‘no no let’s move on we need more games’.

    Nora made it all easy for me as she was supportive and was always encouraging coaches. Her ways of coaching were different and yet educating and very exciting. She made coaches laugh doing her cuckoo dance which was hilarious. CAC volunteer Carrie Taylor was calm and firm. She made the whole week wonderful with the unique way she used Children’s Rights in coaching games. And CIC Nico from Tanzania was full of fun. This team was great and I learnt a lot through each and every game they taught.

    On the last day of training during the coach backs, I was so impressed by the way the games were being adapted. One of the groups led by Musso performed the Children’s Rights game in a different way. They had four areas that represented different child rights and what was beautiful and touching was that the group changed the way the game was played and brought in hand ball. In the game they used hands instead of feet. The rule was before passing the ball you should first touch the ground with the ball then pass. The team would score points by receiving the ball in the grid and the whole team has to shout the type of right the grid represented together.

    I was very excited to be part of this group and am so thankful to the organizers of CAC who made it possible for me to travel to Zambia which made me feel important and useful in the community. Sports for social impact will go a long way in changing people’s lives. Though there is still a lot of work to be done in our communities, this initiative will help a lot of people, teachers, coaches and students play their part in their communities.


  • One Love: Harare, Zimbabwe

    June 27th 2016. CAC volunteer Carrie Taylor writes about her 1st CAC experience in Harare, Zimbabwe.

    When analyzing my time in Zimbabwe through Coaches Across Continents, I keep coming back to the idea of the incredible power of sport, and in this case the sport is soccer/football. If you can mention the name Messi, Marta, Ronaldo or talk about an EPL team, you can strike up a conversation with anyone and make an instant connection.

    CAC brought me to Harare to work with the wonderful coaches of Zim through the Sports Recreation Commission via Neswten Chipoya. Newsten was quiet yet very strong in organizing people. He did a tremendous job in bringing people together and creating connections. Our zany and energetic leader for the week was Nora Dooley from CAC along with Nico who is from Tanzania whose outgoing personality and his penchant for teaching wood ball was a hit with the participants.

    As a longtime coaching educator in the US, I have had a lot of experiences with working with coaches, so going in, I was very interested in how different the CAC curriculum was and how it was to be delivered from the typical US coaching course.

    First off I was blown away by the shear number and strength of the women in the course. I was able to meet Rosemary who was the former Zimbabwe Women’s National team coach, and a some of her former players; Lillian, Bridget, Dorothy and Elizabeth to name a few. Many of whom were returning to the CAC program for the second or third time. Then we had a group of 6 female teachers from Masvingo who travelled 400k by bus to come learn how to impact their primary and secondary students in their area. All these women were strong, powerful, outspoken and well respected by every man in the course. During the week through the CAC games and group work about Gender Equality, Child Rights, and Healthy Behaviors these women made sure their opinions were heard and that they garnered respect from everyone in the course.

    A few of these women mentioned above, then came together again later after the week was done along with other female sport leaders in Zimbabwe. Nora introduced the women to CAC’s ASK for Choice Curriculum.  These women met for discussions about first how to support one another in their challenges and second to start to form a Women’s Sports Leaders Group with the support of the SRC. To be apart of these discussions was great for me, as we have similar challenges in the US and I have been active lately in the growth of the female voice in soccer back home.

    Another one of the key people who not only drove us around all week, but made it a goal to make sure that we were able to watch the Euros at the local pub was Julius. Julius was the epitome of the power of sport. During the week we found out that Julius had lived recently and gone to school in Leipzig, Germany, was a PE teacher and coach at Cornway College, which is a private school outside of Harare.  Julius also was graduate of the University of Zimbabwe.  Besides liking Man U, 😉 Julius was a wonderful, thoughtful and kind host. He showed us the underlying passion, spirit and drive of many of the coaches we met in Harare. We were able to meet a few of his players during the week and very much saw the mutual respect and caring between Julius and the young men that he coaches.

    Then there was Wisdom, whose contagious energy, passion and zest for soccer was evident from the smile and joy he exuded every time you were around him. When playing a CAC adapted game that we would typically identify as “Partner Steal the Bacon”, instead of being given a number your groups of two were identified first by issues surrounding child rights, such as child abuse, child labor, early marriage. Then the game switched and your group was identified by a solution to the issues, such as education, or communication. Wisdom’s group wanted Love to be the solution.  This solution struck a chord with me.

    LOVE, and in this case our common love of soccer brought this amazing group of coaches together for a week. Love for our players, love for competition, love for the world sport of soccer. This experience was nothing like the coaching courses that I teach back home. Sure we shared your basic soccer activities for kids, but real social issues were discussed, and more importantly people shared their love and passion for the game and made friendships and connections that hopefully they will carry with them forever. I feel fully confident that each participant will apply something that they learned from this week and utilize it in their own environment. I will take home new friendships, a new dance or two, a couple words of Shona, and a much deeper appreciation for the world through love for the beautiful game.

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  • A Vision for Local Sustainability

    August 14th 2015. Léogâne to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Nairobi to Marsabit, Kenya. Tacloban to Baybay, Philippines. Nyanza to Kigali, Rwanda. Tanzania to Uganda. Uganda to Kenya. Cambodia to Philippines.

    These are some of the movements of our Community Impact Coaches (CICs) so far in 2015. We have had 16 CICs from 9 countries, directly impacting 28 CAC programs, and consequently nearly 100,000 children.

    The locations and numbers are compelling, but the stories behind those facts and figures are far more inspiring.

    So who are these CICs? How have they enhanced our work? And what have they brought back home to their communities?

    The CIC program pulls in the best of the best from our implementing partners. These are the coaches who have demonstrated their commitment to using sport for social impact at home with their local organizations, On-Field during past CAC trainings, and in year-round communication with CAC staff. These coaches, once selected as CICs, are part of On-Field teams for 1-3 weeks in various locations in their country or internationally. They assist us with the training of other leaders while learning more from our SDL Coaches, and soaking in everything they believe will empower them back home.

    We kicked off the year with a CIC exchange of sorts. Our 3rd-year partners, GOALS Haiti in Léogâne sent two coaches to work with our team in Port-au-Prince with 2nd-year partners The Sanneh Foundation’s Haitian Initiative (HI). The following week two coaches left the city to join our staff for the third year of the On-Field component to our partnership with GOALS. These two weeks are a great representation of what the CIC program is all about. The GOALS coaches were essential in helping us train 173 leaders in Cité Soleil. The HI coaches visited Léogâne and were able to see how far along a third-year partner is, while learning from them and being challenged to advance beyond the work we had done in their community.

    2015 also saw the return of our first-ever CIC, Nico Pota, who traveled from his home in Tanzania to help us run three programs in UgandaWhile in Uganda, Nico met the second-longest serving CIC, Salim Blanden. Soon after the Uganda programs, Salim traveled to meet our team in Kenya where he helped us train two sets of leaders. After his final week with us, one of the participants had some encouraging words to say about the CIC program: “It is very good for us participants to learn about other cultures and it can help to improve the life of the people in the community. It also encourages members of our community to try to achieve that as well, because when you have been in another community you come home with new ideas. To see Salim also encourages me to do my work and help to improve my own community in Rapogi.” – Michael Ouma, Migori County, Kenya.

    In early May we had some fiercely empowered Filipino women join us for our first time working in Baybay, Philippines after our second year with partners Football for Life in Tacloban. Hazel and Patty were running the show with a group of physical education teachers, and we hope to get one or both of them assisting us internationally in the near future.

    One of our Zimbabwe partners has finished the Hat-Trick Initiative, and after the third year several of the coaches applied to the CIC program. Of these candidates, Frank Chivawura was selected and joined CAC On-Field near his home in Harare with a first-year partner, helping us introduce our methodology to the new participants.

    One of the most incredible stories from our CICs takes us back to Kenya. David Mulo and Charles Otieno have been CICs with us for two years, helping us train leaders in various parts of their country. These inspired leaders work with long-time partners Vijana Amani Pamoja in Nairobi, and since joining us as CICs, they’ve wanted to do more. They started their own NGO called Green Kenya where they use CAC games to teach youth about all sorts of social issues, i.e.: “teaching participants how to conserve the environment using CAC environment games.” Another such issue is the empowerment of women. We have just been informed by David that they recently launched their new Girl Up initiative where, among other things, they are having men go out and buy sanitary towels to better understand and support women. David was part of our training in Marsabit, Kenya with Horn of Africa Development Initiative (HODI) – a program that needs little introduction when it comes to empowering women and girls.

    An excerpt from David’s blog sums it up beautifully. After witnessing the gap between men and women in Marsabit and learning of certain human rights violations, David writes:

    I decided that I want to do something for the girls when I get back to Nairobi… I will assemble the girls in my community and let them talk about the issues that they are facing and how they think we can tackle them. I want to let them have a voice to be heard. This idea would not have grown in my head if I did not get the chance to be a Community Impact coach (CIC).

    And now Girl Up is born.

    This is just one example – albeit amazing – of the work that our CICs are doing with us, and more importantly, without us. As David and many others have taken the time to thank CAC for the opportunities we present to them – I’d like to take this moment to thank our Community Impact Coaches across the world: Thank you for taking advantage of this opportunity and owning it; thank you for being exactly who you are and allowing it to inspire so many people; and thank you for not being afraid of the unknown.

    With a packed program schedule for the remainder of 2015, we cannot wait to unleash more CICs onto our partners. And moreover, we cannot wait to unlock more of these stories that are waiting to be lived by people who continue to dream despite overwhelming obstacles.

    To find out how you can support the Community Impact Coach program please go to this page or contact us.

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  • We’re Not In Germany Anymore

    CAC volunteer Ramón Voß talks about his experiences in Kabwe, Zambia with Intersport Youth Development.

    July 20th 2015. On Sunday night I finally arrived in Harare, Zimbabwe after 25 hours of travelling all the way from Germany. I did not really have any time to adjust or prepare myself for what was coming because after reaching the accommodation I immediately fell into bed and only 10 hours later I was standing on the pitch with my two colleagues. My first week in Harare passed by like a wonderful dream.

    On Saturday morning we packed our belongings and made our way to the central bus station to get on a bus to Zambia. Even though the trip from Zimbabwe‘s capital to Lusaka, Zambia took more than 10 hours, seeing and experiencing the beautiful landscape we passed compensated for an exhausting bus ride. After spending one night in Lusaka we took another minibus which brought us to our final destination for the upcoming week – Kabwe.

    Just seconds after the minibus dropped us off the program director of Intersport Youth Development – our partner in Kabwe – greeted us with open arms and without wasting any second planned and structured the upcoming week with us over dinner.

    The next day we started our work on the pitch. We had around 25 coaches attending our coaching sessions. As the week before in Harare, we started the day with a game called Circle of Friends. The  purpose of the game is to get to know each other. We would make the start and perform an individual warm-up exercise inside the circle and when approaching the outside of the cirlce we would high five one of the participants and yell our name out load, and in exchange they would do the same. The reason why we would yell our names is, so everyone in the circle would be able to hear our names and the second reason is to encourage the particpants to use their voice. This method seems to be vital and key in terms of creating positive social impact in communities CAC works in. Every member of every community, regardless of their age, gender, class, sexual orientation, physical ability should be allowed to have a voice. A voice to express their wishes, needs, emotions, dreams, fears.

    On Wednesday afternoon we visited two of our participants and observed them coaching. Dismus Pokuma and Patrick Mbao are in their early twenties and already took up the responsibility of coaching more than 50 boys and girls in their community in Kabwe. They started off their training session with Circle of Friends. The kids seemed to enjoy the game because they were allowed to yell – yell out their names, their favourite football teams and football players – without any authority telling them to be quiet or go somewhere else. Since the group of children Dismus and Patrick were coaching was very large, they divided the kids into two groups to proceed with different social impact games we taught them over the course of the past three days.

    One of those games was Ronaldo for Conflict. It is a game that teachers players to solve their own conflicts and work in a team. Players have to run with a ball at their feet through a course of cones without touching the cones. In case a player would touch a cone with the ball, he or she would have to start all over again. The underlying message of this game is that making a mistake and cheating might look the same from the outside, but a mistake is being made without knowing that it is not within the rules, but cheating on the other hand is deliberately bending or ignoring the rules. Here in Kabwe all participants were honest, humble and encouraged everyone, even when one of their teammates had to start all over again.

    Before and after almost every game we coach we gather the participants and ask them if they can see the reason why we play that game and what messages and social impact it conveys. In my opinion and after being part of CAC for just two weeks, the most impressive games we teach coaches in participating communities are games about Child Rights and Gender Equality. When being asked beforehand if women or children should have the same rights as men, maybe 1/4th of the participants agree with the statement, but after playing the games and discussing the reasons for the game, almost everyone can understand why women and kids should not be treated differently than men and that a community is only as strong as their weakest link. By including every single member of the community, sharing knowledge, helping others in need, encouraging kids and women to be take part in the game of life, the community and eventually society grows stronger.

    Even if the group of coaches we are impacting is small, do not forget that those coaches will go back to their community and influence the next generation. Patrick and Dismas alone influence more than 50 kids with our social impact game, and this effect will trickle down to even more people. Social change will take time, but when we start now, we will see the fruits of our work very soon.

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  • Eliminating Problems Within Communities

    CAC Community Impact Coach Frank Chivawura talks about his experience with CAC and the Sports and Recreation Commission in Harare, Zimbabwe.

    July 12th 2015. It’s so amazing how sport can be used as tool to reach out to the inner most being. I noticed people building so much confidence in themselves, as coaches aired out their views and comments during our discussions after a game.

    I believe each and every one of us is affected one way or the other by the things that happen in our lives and communities. With CAC games I realized that it’s only a matter of time that the problems within communities will be eliminated. People will get to know more about their rights and will have ways to solve problems without having to engage in violence.

    It was truly a wonderful week despite the cold temperatures. I worked with CAC coach Turner Humphries and volunteers Charlie and Ramon. They were a delight to work with. It was a very educational and humbling experience to be one of the few CAC Community Impact Coaches. I felt so happy and honoured to have been there helping other coaches, teachers and members of the community realize that football can be used for social impact.

    The program was held at Queen Elizabeth and about fifty five participants attended. I was privileged to have been part of the C.I.C. (Community Impact Coaches) which trained our own Zimbabwe Women’s National Team coach Rosemary Mugadza and some former Zimbabwe Women’s National Team players.

    There was a wide variety of games that taught of different types of violence and abuses against women and children. The days were packed with action and excitement, from morning to late afternoon. There were games like Can Adebayor see HIV, Stamford Bridge tag, Pick Up and Get Clean, which was my favorite game.  Most of the games focused on health and wellness, child rights and women empowerment. The games taught solving problems without violence which I noticed was so much helpful to the coaches as they came to realize that so many ways can be used to resolve conflicts without having to use violent ways.

    Our program ended with the presentation of certificates. I enjoyed the whole experience. It taught me that despite our differences in races and backgrounds, we can still work together for a common goal.

    Many thanks go to the Sports and Recreation Commission and Coaches Across Continents for making this program a resounding success. And I look forward to be part of another exciting CAC program.

    You have no idea how many lives CAC has changed, keep up the good work.



  • 5 Months, 5 Countries, Beautiful Memories

    Senior Staff member, Markus Bensch writes about his first five months with Coaches Across Continents.

    September 4th, 2014. While writing this I’m sitting in the Atatürk Airport in Istanbul waiting for my connecting flight to Nuremberg, Germany. It will be my first time back in my country of origin after I started to work for Coaches Across Continents in late March. What has it been like in the past five months? Amazing, challenging, rewarding, tiring, refreshing, fun, exciting, and shocking … All those and many more adjectives can describe my experience with CAC and the people I worked with. I want to start with the most recent one that I had in Rwanda, because it’s the one that is the most fresh and that was also the most intense in so many ways.

    We were running four different programs in Rwanda with our partner Football for Hope, Peace & Unity (FHPU) represented by its founder Eric Murangwa and his colleague Didier Bana. There have been previous blogs from Nora, Tom and Yael as well as from Francis saying how impressed we’ve been about the participants, their eagerness to learn, and their motivation to make a difference for their community and Rwanda as a whole. There is so much dedication towards development and change that when you speak to Rwandans at some point during the conversation they all mention the genocide in 1994, it seems that a lot of the dedication and motivation comes from this horrible killing of over 1 million people. On my last day before I left Rwanda I caught the chance to go to one of the memorials that can be found in all different parts of Rwanda. Didier from FHPU, an excellent guide, accompanied me on this trip. We went to Ntarama, a catholic church where one of the mass killings took place. As so often in history the church collaborated with the perpetrators and helped or even justified and blessed the killings. More than 5,000 Tutsis were killed by Hutus in Ntarama on the 15th April 1994 after spending 6 days in and around the church trying to escape the killing. The local tour guide took us through the different buildings around the church and I faced the most shocking picture in the room where the Sunday school took place. There was a bloodstained wall witnessing the killing of the children that were hiding on the church compound. Their heads had just been smashed against the wall and the blood remains on the wall until today as reminder of this horrible killing. And right next to it I saw a 2 meter long pointed wooden stick and the guide explains to us that this was used to kill the women after they have been raped by impaling them from their privates through their head. My breath stopped for a moment, followed by pain in my body, the feeling of emptiness and crying. I feel that with my tears I can give back these victims at least a little tiny bit of compassion and human kindness that they have been missing so much in the last moments of their lives. It’s horrific what humans can do to each other when they’ve lost their humanity. On a sheet that is covering some of the coffins inside the church is written in Kinyarwanda the following sentence: “If you would have known me and if you would have known you, you would have not killed me!” This outcry tells us the reason for this mass-killing and how it could have been prevented.

    But Rwanda is not only about its past and the genocide. It is first and foremost a beautiful country with amazing people. I’ve experienced so much friendliness and so much help when I tried to orientate myself as a stranger in a new country. And I’ve experienced so much kindness and humanity; I’m particularly impressed by the honesty of many Rwandans. In my one week holiday in Rwanda I also saw the beautiful nature of this country. My favourite experience was the two day cycling tour from Gisenyi to Kibuye along the Lake Kivu in the west of the country. Knowing that Rwanda is called the country of thousands hills, you can imagine how much I was physically and mentally challenged in these two days.

    These are the most recent experiences and definitely also one of the most intense of the past five months and will remain and definitely influence me in the time to come. Looking at the wider picture of the past five months I’ve been a part of or in charge of 14 different CAC programs in 5 different countries. And I can just confirm the CAC saying “Every program is different!”. I have had a great introduction by Nora in Uganda and Sophie in Tanzania to the CAC philosophy and curriculum. I want to say “Thank you!” to both of them for their support. After 7 weeks I felt well prepared to run my own programs. To lead the programs in Zimbabwe and South Africa was the next major step for me. I think I learned a lot in this time and as Nick did testimony in my last skype call: “I became less German!” I’ll take that as a compliment and I’m curious what I’ll become. More African? More Cosmopolitan? More relaxed? Hopefully a bit of everything!

    The most rewarding in the past five months was to see how all the groups I worked with differ. The surprise that comes up with each group makes my work so interesting and exciting and at the same time challenging, because it requires the openness on my side to support the development that comes up within the group initiated by the individuals. It is very exciting to put self-directed learning into practice and I like the challenge to get better in it with every single program. Development and Self-Directed Learning is not only reserved for our participants, but through my work it reflects on me and questions my beliefs, assumed limitations, and gives me the opportunity to broaden my borders and develop skills.

    I want to say “Thank you!” to Nick and Brian for giving me this great opportunity to be a part of the “CAC family” to develop my skills and personality and contribute towards “Football for social impact.” Last but not least I want to say “Thank you!” to all the people who work off the field and behind the scenes to make my work on the field possible and easier. I just recently learned that CAC is a fast growing business and we already count 60+ people who are involved in our vision of using football for social impact and contributing time towards CAC. I’m proud to be one of them!