Soccer Programs to Empower 500+ Youth in Cameroon

 
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The last time we you received an update on our activities in Cameroon, we gave a preview of the season with a summary of the opening day ceremony which saw the first-ever full season of a youth soccer league in Kumba kick off. I'm excited to reconnect now and let you know that this season to date has been a great success and our local management team is busy planning for the final match coming up this weekend to see who will emerge victorious and go down in history as the first-ever Kumba Youth League winner. 

Brescia F.C. takes to the field against Arsenal F.C., a rivalry that will go down in the books for several reasons, one of which is too obvious: their most outstanding leadership. Both of the coaches, Modest (Brescia) and Besem (Arsenal) have grown so much over the last few years as coach- mentors in our programs. They are some of the most respectable and knowledgeable coaches in Kumba due to their open-mindedness and their interest in personal and professional development. This was not the case when we met them a few years ago: both were stubborn, lacked communication skills, and were sometimes outright hostile. They easily got frustrated when things did not go as planned and often shouted negative thing at their players - which is often the case in Cameroon. 

Now, Besem and Modest are mild-mannered, respectful, and view their coaching responsibilities in a different light. They see their players as more than just forwards or defenders, but as children, students, and young citizens. Their approach to coaching has changed. And because of this, the experience for all of their players has also changed. 

It should come as no surprise that these two teams have qualified for the final match. Quality performance and effective leadership off the field - in training and in every day life - can lead to quality performance on the field. And that is what CFDP is all about: using the game of soccer to improve the lives of hundreds of youth (and their coaches) in Cameroon. 

Thanks for supporting our project. We hope you will continue to be inspired by the work we do and continue to stay involved.  

Cheers!

-Justin

Kumba Arsenal FC - one of the U-14 clubs with CFDP
Kumba Arsenal FC - one of the U-14 clubs with CFDP

It's 2:00pm on Sunday and coaches and players start to arrive at GPS field, well before scheduled kick off time of 3:30pm. This is an amazing achievement in itself. If you are familiar with the concept of "African time", you know what we mean. The CFDP management team has been on site since early in the morning, arranging the canopy (tent), high table and chairs for distinguished guests, marking the field and hanging nets in the goals, and situating the PA system and cranking the speakers so that the neighbors will know a great event is happening at the field today. 

Soon, members of the surrounding community begin to arrive. Supporters of the two clubs playing in the opening match of Kumba's first U-14 league season. Then other community leaders, coaches, supporters and affiliates of CFDP. Finally, Chairman of the Kumba Board of Commissioners, Divisional Delegate of Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, with his entourage. Everything is set for the Opening Ceremony of the first-ever full season of the CFDP Community League and after a few welcome words from the Director of Operations, Diony Collins, pre-match activities begin. 

CFDP football (soccer) matches are different. We transform the playing grounds into a place of learning - for both players and spectators. Before kick off, players will run warm-up drills/games based on educational football drills they learned from Coaches Across Continents training last June. The referee will "quiz" players on each team about what they have learned from their coach in training sessions leading up to the match. Players will read motivational statements to the crowd, reinfocring their role as young athletes in the community to be role models, create awareness and promote social change  Finally, shaking hands between teams and promoting fairplay throughout the game concretizes the values of CFDP: this game is about more than winning.

The theme for this first season is GENDER EQUITY. Every match will highlight a different component of this crucial social issue, and Sunday's opening game was no different. The league will run from February through May, thanks to the generous support of donors like you and FIFA Football for Hope.

As for the outcome of the opening game between Kumba Lakers FC and St. Peters FC, it was a draw 1-1. But one team will go ahead in the table because of their adherence to CFDP values and our new points system. 

None of this is possible without your support. We want to first THANK YOU IMMENSELY for supporting our activities in Cameroon and second invite you to follow along on our blog, social media, and website. Stay connected and see what kind of IMPACT YOU CAN CREATE.

St. Peters FC - a new club created by CFDP coach
St. Peters FC - a new club created by CFDP coach
Kumba Legend FC - a new team in our community
Kumba Legend FC - a new team in our community
Collins and Wallace led the Coaches Clinics
Collins and Wallace led the Coaches Clinics

Our Youth Enrichment Football League was launched in Kumba in the summer of 2013. We started with a few reluctant coaches and wanted to see how we could incorporate our life skills and health education into competitive soccer. After a few successful attempts and a few failures, too, we found the perfect combination with a balance of learning and play. This gave us the confidence to move ahead with our regional youth league. 

In October, we launched our Coaches' Clinics aimed at bringing together amateur coaches and referees, and anyone else who loves soccer, to share with them our new approach to the game. As training workshops continued, more coaches began to see the vision: a holistic approach to youth player development, where there is as great focus on performance on the pitch as their is in the classroom and at home. By the end of the month, we began to see a shift in attitudes of coaches in the three communities where we have planted our roots: Kumba, Mamfe and Ndu. With this new approach, we are creating Community Impact Coaches!

The feedback we got from one of our coaches, Harrison Tetu of Wumjeck F.C.  sums it up best:

"The kids are really enjoying the new model. They are seeing improvements in their behaviour and are having the most fun when they are playing the game. They shake hands to show respect to their peers and do not fight with other teams like they used to. We are teaching them so many things through football that they can never learn anywhere else."

As the saying goes in Cameroon, "Long Live the Republic of Cameroon. Long Live CFDP. "

Stay tuned for more exciting updates as we roll out the league in new communities in the Southwest and Northwest Regions.

Coaches got great experience during the practicals
Coaches got great experience during the practicals
CFDP Staff take a walk through Kumba \
CFDP Staff take a walk through Kumba \

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Six Teams Will Compete in Kumba
Six Teams Will Compete in Kumba's 2nd League Year

Summer is half-way over for us – the holidays are in full swing and we are right in the middle of training Peer Leaders, a new initiative of our Peace Corps Volunteer, Adrian, to promote a more sustainable and engaging approach to youth development. Thanks to your support, we have been able to focus much on improving our after school programs over the last year. And it’s working… More and more school teachers and administrators (and of course, students) want our programs to come to their school!

But we are happy to share with you more about another exciting moment at CFDP… a shift in our social and health education initiative is happening. We are preparing to make some bold moves in the months ahead. And we need your help.

From July 29th until August 18th, I will travel around the Southwest and Northwest Regions of Cameroon, working with our staff and partners to revolutionize our approach to community development. We have improved our Youth Enrichment Football League based on lessons learned from the one-year pilot project we ran in Kumba this past year. We’ve found a unique way to take our educational discussions – typical of our after school programs – and infuse them into soccer practices and games with certified Coaches who double as mentors. Of course, as you know with CFDP, girls play too.

In August, we will launch our new youth league model in two communities, Mamfe and Ndu, and lay the groundwork for a regional network to build social infrastructure with youth soccer. It won’t be easy; but our team is ready. The time is now.

Please check out our new project on GlobalGiving. I know that you believe in our mission to leverage the beautiful game as a sustainable platform for community development. If you are inspired and able to give, please don’t hesitate. The time is now. Check out my itinerary for the trip and select a specific activity that you want to fund and let me know what it is. I will be sure to report back to you upon my return. No amount is too small; every little bit helps.

Thanks for your consideration.

Kind Regards, 

Justin

David will be one of the Peer Leaders next Year!
David will be one of the Peer Leaders next Year!
Youth who play soccer - stay engaged!
Youth who play soccer - stay engaged!

Links:

David receives an award, Most Outstanding Student
David receives an award, Most Outstanding Student

A total of 100 students from our partner schools came together to participate in our annual end-of-year Games Day. Ten student representatives - the best in each of the CFDP clubs - were selected to represent their schools. While a few schools were unable to participate due to exam schedules, those students who were in attendance will carry forth the great vibes from the day. As usual, our team of dedicated staff and volunteers in Kumba created a most memorable experience for the youth. 

The morning activities featured five competitive soccer games, including challenging ones like chipping the ball into the oil drum and a juggling competition, where some youths acutally 'tapped' the soccer ball over 200 times! The afternoon activities were the most interesting part of the day! In the classroom, student groups faced off in a quiz to test their knoelwedge of the educational topics we discussed over the past year. All of the CFDP clubs competing scored greater than 70% on the team quiz and the top two teams received over 90% scores. This is really encouraging because it demonstrates that students are learning from our programs. The schools that performed the best are those where the CFDP programs have been running the longest: GSS Nkamlikum (Champions, First Partner School - since 2010), BHS Barombi Kang (Most Dedicated Volunteer Leader, 2nd Place), and GBHS Kossala (First Partner School - since 2010). 

The number of lives that our after-school programs have touched over the past year is nothing short of amazing. From student leaders who are finding their hidden potential and working towards new goals to the  volunteer leaders who act as mentors and provide guidance through the challenging times of life as an adolescent in Kumba.

As we get ready to break for the summer holidays, we are excited to announce a new initiative we will launch in four schools: peer educators. Those students who have excelled (especially from the top performing CFDP school clubs mentioned above) will now be trained to run after school sessions on their own and gain invaluable leadership skills in these new positions. We are excited for next year and look forward to sharing more on our progress later this summer.

Thank you for supporting our after-school programs. Without you, none of this is possible. It's just that simple. Thank you for helping to change the lives of 500 boys and girls in Kumba, Cameroon. 

Girls Play and Compete with the Boys!
Girls Play and Compete with the Boys!
A Big Group of Students Stand Before the Start
A Big Group of Students Stand Before the Start
Competing in the Team Quiz Component of the Day
Competing in the Team Quiz Component of the Day
Prizes for All Participants; Awards for Top Youth
Prizes for All Participants; Awards for Top Youth
Be the Change You Wish to See in the World
Be the Change You Wish to See in the World

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Organization

Project Leader

Justin Forzano

Pittsburgh, PA United States

Where is this project located?

Map of Soccer Programs to Empower 500+ Youth in Cameroon