• Thoughts From Cameroon

    IMG_1374May 9, 2013.  By Earl Strassberger, Amanda Ferguson, and Brian Suskiewicz.  During the last two weeks the three of us have worked in Buea and Mamfe, Cameroon with our partner organization, United Action for Children.  Also heavily involved and participating were our other two Cameroonian partners, AVFAL (Limbe) and Cameroon Football Development Program (Kumba).  Both weeks were great.  UAC is a tremendous host organization, building a FIFA Football For Hope Center, running two private schools that reach 1,000 kids, and running sports programs in various communities.  They also have a great outreach and support program for other groups which we witnessed.  Anyone who needs assistance in Buea or Mamfe reaches out to UAC, and if it is a good cause then they will find a way to support it.

    As we had such a great two weeks together, here are some individual thoughts from our time working here with UAC:

    IMG_1395Amanda:   Never in my life did I think I would be learning and coaching soccer simultaneously…at the base of an active volcano…in Africa.  I find new experiences to be so much more rewarding if you are open to anything that may come your way – and this is no exception.  I was also told that this would be an experience that would change me.  This was grossly understated.  I will be honest and admit that my soccer experience up until this point in my life is extremely limited at best.  Okay, let’s be more honest.  I’ve never played a game in my life.  Gulp.  We’re teaching coaches how to foster a voice within their players; a vital quality in building their confidence.  How appropriate that on our fourth day of work, we were able to see their voices.  The coaches taught us the games we’ve worked on all week and I couldn’t be happier to feel their energy, hear their enthusiasm and SEE their voice.  These coaches and the people here have enriched my life more than I ever could have imagined.  I’m looking forward to another week…or weeks?

    IMG_1159Earl: Mamfe is my 5th (and final) location on this trip.  While there are many similarities, each location had its own uniqueness.  Mamfe’s started with getting here.  We got a ride in a Toyota Land Cruser with six passengers plus the driver, Antoine.  Plus a lot of baggage, a case of soda pop, and 25 bananas purchased on the way.  While the seats were comfortable, there was no room to move our feet.  The ride started out easy on a nice paved road.  But after a few hours the pavement ended.  The dirt road was hilly and full of gullies.  Antoine was marvelous but we were tossed around like rag dolls because of the car-sized craters.  We got the ride in the SUV because we came down with Mr. Orock, the creator of our partner organization, United Action for Children.  Mr. Orock is well-known and generous and we were treated like royalty.  With him we observed a big community football match, while sitting in the front row under a tent. Brian performed the ceremonial kick off and Amanda presented the award to the Man of the Match.  The interest in our training was evident, as we were interviewed by a radio station and even got our picture in the newspaper.  What was the same in all five places were the wonderful coaches.

    IMG_0491Brian: This was my second year coming back to Cameroon.  It is rapidly becoming one of my favorite places in Africa.  The people are warm and inviting and the landscape is beautiful as you can see from our pictures from Buea and Mamfe.  Most of the Southwest province is rain forest, and Buea is situated on the slopes of Mount Cameroon, an active volcano and the third largest mountain in Africa.  UAC is a well-run organization that reached out to anyone who needs assistance, making an immediate impact in their two communities.  The coaches are all excited to be involved and then do a good job implementing what they learn to the local kids.  Working with great groups like UAC, in outstanding locations like Cameroon, is why I love working for Coaches Across Continents.