17 October 2013. As we develop our valued partnership with Whizzkids United, Coaches Across Continents staff set off for Durban, South Africa for a week of training. The program took place about an hour outside of the city in a community called Edendale, down the road from the Whizzkids Health Academy and future location of their Football for Hope Center. Whizzkids United is the best in the business with regard to health and particularly HIV education, but it is our job to help them rope more football into their curriculum, redefining their place in the realm of sport for development. With small help from Nora Dooley recovering from malaria, Nick Gates led the Whizzkids coaches through a variety of CAC games.
Though we always want the focus to be on the trainers during our programs, youth involvement is never discouraged. Our week in Edendale was different from other trainings as we taught fewer games, but saw immediate impact. Three-hour sessions each day allowed us only one hour to teach the coaches as many CAC social impact games as possible before the pitch was overrun by eager young footballers. The Whizzkids coaches would then take the games they just learned and immediately work with youth of all ages from the community. We allotted two hours for this coaching portion, but each day lasted longer than the one before as the participants never wanted to leave the field. As the week progressed, the Whizzkids trainers came into their own as football coaches for social development.
There were a few games in particular where the impact was tangible, and both the coaches and the participants truly grasped the social messages. On the second day of training Nick led the coaches plus 85 youth of varying ages in a huge game of “Mingle Mingle”. A common favorite among many groups we work with, “Mingle Mingle” sets the stage for players to solve their own problems, finding solutions without the help of their coach or teacher. It also provides a wonderful opportunity for Nick to show off his dance moves. Another game that really tested both the Whizzkids coaches and the Edendale youth was Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Dortmund. This is a game where players form lines and each line has ownership of a number, for example from 1 to 5. When the coach calls out two numbers (1 and 3!), then those two lines have to switch positions faster than the two lines of the opposing team. This game challenges participants to, again, find their own solutions to the problem they are faced with.
With every program we run all over the world, our main goal as an organization is to find the ways in which we can best help our partners and the communities they work in. This is, naturally, different for each and every program. CAC’s adaptability is one of the many strengths that powers our organization. In this particular case in Edendale, South Africa, priorities shifted towards the incoming Football for Hope Center. An incredible opportunity for both Whizzkids United and the people of Edendale and surrounding communities, the Center also presents a daunting responsibility. Being tasked with improving, and somewhat defining, Whizzkids’ use of football for social impact, CAC wants to ensure the organization is capitalizing on every way such a Center can enhance its environment. Our focus, therefore, for the week and the future of our partnership, is to provide Whizzkids with the necessary training and resources to exceed the expectations that come with running a Football for Hope Center. After this week, we are very excited about the prospects and look forward to the opening of the Center in just two months time.