September 6, 2012: Upon mentioning to a Kenyan in the last two months that I would be heading to Marsabit to work with a football for social development program, there was an immediate reaction of disbelief then followed by the comment that it would be very hot and hard to reach. The part about Marsabit being hard to reach was certainly accurate, seeing that it is a town in northern Kenya, located 170 km east of the center of the East African Rift, and of which is almost surrounded by the Marsabit National Park and Reserve. The town is inhabited by various tribal groups as well as being home to Somali and Ameru traders and migrants. The town is also home to Horn of Development Africa Initiative (HODI), which is what prompted our team to search for days to find a humanitarian small airline nonprofit group to help us reach our final destination.
Before leaving for Marsabit we met the director of HODI, Fatuma Abdulkadir, who gave us more of a detailed background of the organization, which she has started, with the support of family and community members in Marsabit She explained to us more about the coaches we would be working with, many of them whose realities included little choice, early marriage and female genital mutilation. Although young in age, these female leaders were looking for skills to become better coaches and to use football to create social change. She also explained that many groups that she had reached out to wouldn’t make the trip because of the challenges in getting there. We also experienced some challenges in arranging for our transportation, however, after many calls, emails and visits to Wilson Airport in Nairobi we secured a way to arrive in Marsabit.
Apart from better equipping the coaches with games to address social issues and imparting key coaching skills, Coaches Across
Continents also chose HODI as the organization for the pilot project of the GOAL On Field Program. Standard Chartered created the GOAL program with the support of Population Council and other development organizations with a mission to reach young females to teach them life skills relating to communication, rights and responsibilities, health & hygiene and financial literacy. Standard Chartered approached Coaches Across Continents to be involved with their GOAL program because of their interest in creating an on field component to the GOAL curriculum. The sports component was secondary in the original GOAL curriculum and Standard Chartered asked CAC to create a GOAL On Field Program to deliver to the coaches and teachers of young female participants. This educate the educator approach is fundamental to CAC’s work and it has been effective and sustainable in programs all around the world. Additionally upon arrival at the HODI office in Marsabit, it became clear that HODI was a perfect place to pilot the GOAL program considering the majority of the 45 coaches were females, ages 13-20 and were dealing with issues related to the GOAL curriculum. Additionally, of the 6000 youth in the HODI program, half are young females.
StreetFootballWorld, a network which both CAC and HODI are actively involved, also encouraged the partnership between HODI and Coaches Across Continents. As an affiliated partner of StreetFootballWorld, Coaches Across Continents partners with many of the organizations in their network and delivers programs teaching football for social development games and a style of coaching that sees the football environment as a teaching platform. When StreetFootballWorld advocated that Coaches Across Continents partner with HODI, CAC couldn’t have been more thrilled with the request. HODI is using football to create peace in their community through inclusion of all participants to hosting Shoot to Score Not to Kill football tournaments to giving young males and females a safe place to learn new skills.
Women Win is another instrumental player in the GOAL partnership as they are the group that helps to deliver the GOAL curriculum. Coaches Across Continents has worked in the last three months to develop the GOAL On Field component for the GOAL curriculum which includes developing on field games that complement the in classroom activities but which are made for the sports field. For example, GOAL in classroom activities focuses on teaching the participants ways to effectively communicate. The GOAL On Field Program includes games that create an environment on the field where participants have to use their voice, communicate with others make and communicate their decisions.
part 1 of 2.