February 3, 2014. We had a great week working with Association Sportives des Jeunes Filles de Fond des Blancs. First of all, Fond des Blancs is beautiful. It is surrounded by huge mountains, luscious green mango trees, blue skies and filled with smiling people. It was a very different experience to work with a first year program, but it was really fun to see them embrace and enjoy our games and messages.
The coaches, of course, started out with a few good laughs when we introduced Circle of Friends on the first day. As the day went on, the coaches started to become increasingly competitive with the games and involved in the discussions afterwards. Each day got better and by the end of the week, I could really see an improvement in the creativity in the way that they were solving the conflicts in the games we taught. They were great in the discussions on the difference between cheating and making a mistake, the importance of being healthy, and ways to make safer sexual decisions. One thing that all the Fond des Blancs coaches really enjoyed was just playing a game of soccer. We ended the week playing a big 11 vs. 11 game with rocks as goal posts and no true out-of-bounds lines. It was amazing to me that when someone did a handball or committed a foul there would be no discussion or conflict, even though throughout the week our games definitely caused some arguments. In the soccer game, the team that committed the fault would just give the other team the ball and the game would continue.
Sophie and I had a great time coaching, but Ricardo, our Community Impact Coach (CIC) from GOALS Haiti the week prior, was a super star. He was great at translating, teaching the games, and leading the discussions after the games. He was incredible at using self-directed learning as a coaching tool to make the new coaches think about solutions without giving them an answer. He was a great help throughout the week.
Outside of the training sessions, we had fun exploring Fond des Blancs. Sophie, Ricardo, and I were staying in a beautiful house with our host Molly, the general manager of Haiti Projects who is currently working with the Fond des Blancs girl’s soccer team. She was awesome. She always made sure we had enough food and water, and even gave us a tour of the Haiti Projects, which is an organization that employs women in order to make them self-sufficient and have easier access to health care, jobs, and education. All of their employees send their children to school, when previously only about 17% could afford to do so. Women also are reporting an average income increase of over 250% and earn on average 262% more than the national minimum wage. Clearly, it is an incredible organization that deserves a lot of credit for the impact they are making. It is always great to see organizations that have similar goals to Coaches Across Continents be so successful. Overall, it was a great week. Sophie, Ricardo and I had an awesome time coaching, sight-seeing, and learning with the exciting people of Fond Des Blancs!