Volunteer Testimonials

Inspired by our volunteers words and stories?  Apply today! Volunteer Coach Application 2014

Hiroki Kobayashi: Haiti, 2014

IMG_8757-1“There are two things that really struck me during this trip. One of them is the importance of encouraging “conflict resolution”, which is one of the five things CAC focuses on…I’ve never looked at soccer as a tool to make social impact before working with CAC, and I was impressed how your geniusely designed drills could influence the coaches and the kids to become critical thinkers. The second thing that really moved me was seeing and working with people who genuinely care about others happiness, and who can find joy in helping others. Working with Brian, Nora and Sophie, and your partners… was absolutely the coolest experience to me not only because of the unique background and personality each one of them possesses, but also because they were great coaches and educators who showed me how to think critically, how to make social impacts and affect others life, how to work with 60 coaches without speaking their language, and most importantly, how to pursue things you love and  how to have fun.”

Rachel Blauner: Uganda, 2013

999743_289256987877988_836809275_n“Being a part of Coaches Across Continents has not only changed my perspective on the rest of the world, but it has shown me that the smallest things in life truly do mean the most. It was not the fact that I had never been to Africa or that I have never been in a culture with such extreme living conditions; it was the fact that the people I spent my time with were the most generous, kind, and loving people I have come into contact with. They showed me that to be happy, it does not matter what you possess; to be happy simply comes from the people you share your experiences with and having a positive outlook on all situations.”  Check out the article written by Boston University about Rachel’s trip by clicking here.

Melanie Baskind: Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, & Tanzania: 2012

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA“I had an unbelievable time travelling as a volunteer coach with CAC.  I found working for the organization to be the perfect way of balancing meaningful work with seeing the world.  Working with CAC allowed me to travel to the farthest corners of the Earth and return home with a host of new perspectives. It is an experience that stays with you long after the end of your trip.”

Tim Linden: Colombia, 2013

TimI have spent the better part of the past 5 years studying, researching and working on complex social issues in Latin America. While volunteering with Coaches Across Continents in Colombia, I was able to witness the power of using sport to mobilize communities and drive significant social impact. This experience has helped me think outside the constraints of traditional approaches to problem solving in the developing world and promote new, adaptable models of collaboration that nurture and leverage people’s talents and passions.

Lindsey Daugherty: Kenya, 2012

kristin daugherty“Volunteering with CAC was one of the most rewarding and positive experiences I have ever had. Not only did I get to teach life-long lessons through my favorite sport, but I learned so much from the amazing people of Kenya along the way as well: carry an open heart and an open mind at all times, no matter where you go or who you meet. I gained a second family in Kenya, and know I always have a place to call home there.”

Jaren LaGrecca: India, 2012.  Zambia, Ghana & Liberia, 2011.

Jaren_Monrovia, Liberia“There is much to be said about using soccer for social development, but above all is the passion for the game and life that you experience when working intimately with people in developing communities.  My experiences with CAC have forged friendships that I will never forget.” 

Jaren is currently training for an IronMan, 2013!

Adam Burgess: Kenya, 2012

Adam playing Scary Soccer in Kenya“This is one of the best ways to really have fun experiencing a new place and meeting some incredible local people. You can also learn about the impact of soccer particularly when you see the coaches putting the games into practice with their young teams.”

Adam is currently working with CAC on some off-field projects, and is expecting to get back on the field in 2013.

Gina Wideroff: India, 2012

imageWithout fully understanding the depth of CAC’s impact, I first thought to myself, how could I turn down a chance to travel to India to play soccer all day for weeks! More importantly, my work with CAC was a unique opportunity to inspire future generations of coaches and leaders in some of the most impoverished neighborhoods of India through the power of sport. I most enjoyed my responsibility as a role model of female empowerment, pushing both the young men and women to open their eyes to the vast world of potential for women in the community.

Dean Conway: Namibia and Botswana, 2011

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIt was great to be part of these two CAC teams as we worked to enhance the coaching skills of the participants. It was also deeply rewarding to collaborate with everyone we met at our programs in those two countries in our efforts to promote good health, empowerment of girls and women, conflict resolution, conservation, etc.  We met some remarkable people at our sites and every day seemed adventurous and stimulating. As the days rolled by, some ideas were reinforced:

  • Sport, not always, but most of the time, unites people.
  • We’re all in this together. We have to figure out how to work and play together harmoniously, positively, and happily.
  • Life is relentlessly complex. We must do what we can to promote universal values and ideals, while respecting the beliefs and traditions and realities of those we meet. In initiatives like CAC, participants must be open-minded and adaptable: you’re bound to encounter contradictions and juxtapositions.
  • Big problems are everywhere, but so is hope. Large percentages of people in southern Africa are HIV positive, large percentages unemployed. There are considerable deposits of diamonds, uranium, and gold – yet poverty is widespread. We all have to pull together and solve problems and manifest hope. Speaking of hope: working with us at these two sites were three college women. They alertly took in everything that was happening every day, led activities dynamically throughout the days, followed a disciplined training schedule in preparation for their Fall seasons, kept up journals, and typically read for a couple of hours each evening. True idealism!
  • Because big problems are everywhere, we have to use our imaginations and will power and get on them. For example, at many Special Olympics tournaments and gatherings, local doctors and dentists donate their time and give all the participants checkups of their eyes and teeth and feet. Those offerings are called Opening Eyes, Special Smiles, and Fit Feet. Fantastic!

I came back here thinking: America is not perfect, but it’s astonishingly dynamic, modern, stable, educated, and resourceful. At its best it’s idealistic, generous, fair-minded, and kind. Everything seems to be thought out. We have to help – all around the planet – to offer our spirit and talents and capacities.

Graham Bradford: Kenya, 2010

grahamThe experience was memorable on several different levels…  The programmes presented me with significant challenges which I hope (think) I came though.
Those challenges were in respect to deciding to, -and then actually taking, a huge jump way out of the comfort zone  into extremely challenging physical, mental and emotional territory.  Whilst you try to prepare mentally for what you will experience, Africa is still a shock to the system for most of us from a comfortable life in the developed world.  It is difficult not to be in awe of  young people and children we worked with who enjoy virtually no material wealth, grinding daily life and shattered family backgrounds yet remain upbeat, are positively aspirational and manage to smile.   It made me feel I was not worthy of trying to help them in their personal development.
In addition, ‘experiencing’ the real Africa, away from the tourist comforts, was both amazing and humbling.  It is an amazing experience to have to say hello to everyone in the street, – everyone, everyday!  Living between field sessions was not particularly comfortable, and significant down-time in rather remote spots was an element I wasn’t anticipating being a problem.  Camaraderie with my fellow coaches was  essential to getting through.  Field sessions are exhausting but amazing fun.  Laughter is a precious commodity anywhere, but especially in the face of desperately tough lives.   Bringing out the laughter of the children and young people is a tonic to any worries we think we may have.
How has the trip affected me?  “It offers a true perspective.  Think you’ve got problems?… well, after a CAC coaching programme, you know you haven’t really.   Did it help change the world… well only a little, but that’s still got to be worth it.  Think we bought fun and distraction to the children?  Oh yes, they love it!”
Best moments…? teaching 30+ african kids, wearing Newcastle United shirts, to sing and dance  ‘Niall Quinn’s Disco Pants’ –  a famous Sunderland AFC terraces anthem.  Priceless.  Check out the video! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4hqKjBRwG4c.

Adam Rousmaniere: Malawi, 2009

Adam RosAbout a month ago, I read through Byron Wien’s Life Lessons from his 40+ year career. I agreed with some, and disagreed with others… But found myself stuck thinking about his 8th lesson:

When meeting someone new, try to find out what formative experience occurred in their lives before they were seventeen.  It is my belief that some important event in everyone’s youth has an influence on everything that occurs afterwards.

I started thinking about my upbringing and tried to find one individual experience in my past that has impacted everything that happened afterwards. I came to realize that (although it is not before 17), my “formative” experience occurred during my two months in Malawi with CAC. It has impacted how I relate to people, how I react to certain situations, and how I perceive the world in general. It’s incredible how vivid the trip still is in my mind.

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