May 30th, 2011 from AJ, Alicia, and Sophie
On Friday we finished up our time in Gansbaai working with the Grootbos Foundation, the South Africa Football Foundation, and Dibanisa, and the program overall was an amazing success. The three main social issues that we focused on were violence, social inclusion, and the environment, and the local coaches were eager to begin creating games to address them. By the end of the week, they really started to grasp the idea of football for development. Whereas before the main focus of the coaches was to develop the players’ skills, now the coaches are learning how to incorporate social messages into the drills. At the end of the week we discussed the community’s unique environmental concerns, namely the preservation of fynbos and the poaching of abalone. Then the coaches worked together to invent football games with the aim of educating the children and promoting awareness about these problems. It was satisfying to see what games these promising new leaders came up with and that they had potential for making an impact.
In the evening sessions with the younger children, we experienced some of the violence that exists in the community first-hand. It proved difficult to manage the group of girls and boys who were inclined to incessantly pick fights and forcefully hit and kick each other. They did, however, really seem to enjoy the Marta and Ronaldo skills, and they understood and remembered the take-away messages of health and female empowerment.
The older boys also really enjoyed the Marta and Ronaldo skills, but this group too showed the social problems of the area. In addition to new skills, our sessions with them focused on social inclusion and teamwork. While the older boys did not display as much physical violence as the younger children, we encountered a lot of bullying in the form of humiliation and laughter. We brought these issues up with the coaches, and had a discussion about coaching ethics and non-negotiable behavioral expectations, such as non-violence.
We finished the week with a ceremony where we recognized the coaches’ efforts and gave them certificates. Each coach told us something he or she had learned, from being able to talk about serious issues while having fun, the importance of bringing energy and enthusiasm to sessions, and the ability to implement the newly learned games across various sports. Already after the first sessions, even the rugby and netball coaches discussed how they had already effectively adapted our curriculum into their respective sports. This is promising because the different sports reach different demographics within the community. It was gratifying to see that the coaches really got on board with the program and we are sure that throughout the next year they will be able to use what they learned this week to continue to take on the challenges of uniting the three communities of Gansbaai through sport.
Over the coming weeks, we’ll be working on our WISER evaluation to help this amazing program with their monitoring and evaluation for sport and development in Gansbaai.