Hat Tricks, Juggling, and New Friends

GOALS coaches play a CAC game that teaches children about safe spaces

It’s just one month into 2013, but GOALS is off to a running start! We’ve just spent an incredible two weeks with Coaches Across Continents with our staff in Leogane. Our coordinators and coaches spent mornings in workshops on the Chatuley soccer field, and used afternoons to begin implementing the new activities in their local communities. The partnership, formed under CAC’s “Hat Trick Initiative,” is a component of the winner’s package GOALS was granted in July 2012 for Beyond Sport’s Best New Project Award.

Soccer brings people together and is one of the best ways to tackle tough subjects, develop leadership, and learn life skills. The Coaches Across Continents workshops, led by founder Nick Gates and Harvard soccer players Marie Margolius and Cheta Emba, promoted communication, responsibility, disease prevention, gender equality, and much, much more. 15-20 GOALS coaches participated daily and we also welcomed local Leogane coaches to extend the impact of the workshops beyond GOALS’ sites.

The coaches had an amazing time in the trainings. From learning new skills (“Ronaldo 1! Marta 3!”), to designing their own exercises, to inaugurating CAC’s “Juggle Across Continents” initiative, they had a blast. “De Leogane,” a local professional goalkeeper and one of our very own Bossan coaches, juggled a One World Futbol 585 times on his first try! We know that Team GOALS will be making a BIG contribution to CAC’s goal of reaching 1 million juggles in 2013.

Our coaches contribute to the "Juggling Across Continents" goal of 1 million juggles!

We had high expectations of these seminars, but even so, I was astounded about the changes we saw in our local coaches and coordinators over the course of two weeks. Their confidence, skills and effectiveness grew by leaps and bounds. Coaches Across Continents made a fundamental difference in how our GOALS coaches work with our players and integrate social issues into daily practice.

By the last day, not one of us was ready to let the Coaches Across Continents team go. Our last site visit was to Bossan, where an average 75 children come to the program each day. The site had never looked better: each coach was using CAC exercises to run focused, targeted drills with their teams. Each player was completely engaged: alternately serious, laughing, and pushing themselves to do better.

Moments like these show just how powerful sport can be in the lives of children. Seeing how the players were working together, giving it their all, and flourishing with the strong leadership of their coaches reminded me that having fun and accomplishing big things can go hand-in-hand.

Children at Bossan learn a fun new CAC drill

We are so grateful for our time with Coaches Across Continents. With so much achieved in just two weeks, we’re excited for our next big projects for 2013!

With love from Haiti,

For more information on Coaches Across Continents, please visit their website. For great photos and videos of their time with us in Haiti, please visit us on our Facebook page and Twitter!

Cheta works with children at Destra