Saturday, June 1, 2013

Leadership Training: Session 1.1

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

I could not get a computer quick enough to write this post. This morning we had the first session of our six-week training course for coaches and young adults associated with youth football academies around Kumba Municipality who want to become certified CFDP "leaders." Although I wasn't quite sure what to expect, it went extremely well.

Let me explain to you briefly how "training" factors in to the CFDP process. There are schools, communities, and football academies throughout Kumba with which CFDP is partnered. A "partnership" with a school, community, or youth football academy means that at that particular institution, there is someone who implements regular "CFDP sessions." A "session" normally consists of warm-ups (stretching and jogging), ice-breaking activities, football drills, and educational discussions that revolve around life skills topics, HIV/AIDS awareness, etc. So you see how the CFDP session is dynamic in the sense that it can function as both a way to run an after-school program, as well as a way for coaches of youth football academies to implement a training session with their players. Anyway, in order for football coaches, school teachers, and young adults in the community to implement CFDP sessions at their respective institutions, it is necessary that they be trained in our curriculum, or the "CFDP way of doing things." Therefore, we host annual training courses for people who want to become certified as new CFDP "leaders," as well as refresher courses throughout the year for existing CFDP "leaders."

Wednesday's session was part of our summer 2013 training course for leaders from football academies around Kumba. (We train leaders from football academies and leaders at schools and community centers separately.) These academies will be participating in the CFDP 2013-2014 U-16 Football League, which means that they will be playing in CFDP tournaments and friendly competitions throughout the year. The first of those tournaments takes place over the course of 6-7 weeks this July and August. As I've mentioned in previous posts, all matches, whether they are part of a tournament or just a friendly competition, will have an educational theme and will feature a pre-game ceremony with activities and the reading of motivational statements pertaining to the match's theme to reinforce the educational aspect of the CFDP League. Therefore, as part of our six-week training course, we are not only teaching coaches the CFDP curriculum, but also having them help us develop educational themes and pre-game procedures that will become an integral part of each match and will help bring out the "CFDP-ness" of our league.

Going in to Wednesday's session, I was really nervous. Adjusting to life in Cameroon over the past month hasn't always been easy. For example, although the South West Region of Cameroon is English speaking, people prefer to communicate in Pigeon English, and I'm not too good at that. Also, most days, people in the street keep barking "white man" at me, and although they mean no harm, at times it grows annoying. The food has made me sick; I wake up covered in sweat each morning because it's so hot--I'm not at all trying to complain, just trying to reinforce the fact that this has been one hell of an adjustment. So now, Wednesday was a whole new obstacle for me: I had to speak in front of a classroom full of Cameroonians. I came here in many ways to be some sort of teacher, a transferrer of knowledge, but I'm only 22-years of age and many of the people in the classroom Wednesday were years older than me. I was worried they would not want to hear what I had to say. I was also worried that many of them, being football coaches, were only in attendance to hear about football, and would not want anything to do with the educational component of CFDP.

Despite my anxiety going into Wednesday's session, I came out extremely satisfied with the way things went and overwhelmed with excitement for the way I now expect our training course to progress over the next few weeks. The session could not have gone any better. We were scheduled to begin at 7:00 a.m., but because this is not America, we began at 7:30. We started off by leading a few "ice-breakers," activities designed to ease tension in the room and help people get to know each other. Next, Collins spoke and introduced everyone in the audience to CFDP by explaining the organization's history, where we currently stand, and our vision for the future. (Just as a side note, if you haven't heard me say it before, Collins is a genius. The man is pure intellect. Before I came to Cameroon, I had been reading letters and documents he would send to Justin, and his writing style alone, which stuck out to me as very eloquent, hinted that he was a smart man. Since I've been working with CFDP in Cameroon working with Collins at the CFDP office, my suspicions have been confirmed. Seriously, I basically feel honored to be in his presence any time he's around!) Anyway, Collins spoke in such a way Wednesday that if you were in the audience and left feeling unexcited about the organization you would soon be a part of, there must have been something wrong with you. After Collins, Caroline spoke for a few minutes to explain to everyone how our programs at schools, community centers, and football academies each work.

The final part of the session was mine. Since we had just introduced the leaders to CFDP, I wanted to now give each leader a chance to introduce himself or herself to us. I went around the room and had each person stand up and tell me a few things: His or her name, why there were attending our training course, and what CFDP could help them achieve. When I asked each coach why he or she was enrolled in our training course, their responses were absolutely wonderful. People were saying things like, "I am here because I want to be a leader in my community," "I am here because I hope that CFDP can teach me how to properly communicate with young kids," etc. etc. I was absolutely thrilled!

There are days in Cameroon when I find it really difficult. I grow homesick. I REALLY miss my girlfriend. But it's days like Wednesday, when, because I am with CFDP and engaged in something so incredibly redeeming, that I know it is totally worth being here.

1 comment:

  1. The training sounds awesome! This has been my favorite post so far. I'm really happy to hear that everyone involved in the league has good intentions for getting involved. So proud of what you and CFDP are doing!

    Love you,