Women's Soccer Players Participate in Coaches Across Continents

Women's Soccer Players Participate in Coaches Across Continents

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Harvard women's soccer players Marie Margolius and Marissa Segala have given their time to work with Coaches Across Continents this year, working with coaches and children in Mexico and Haiti. Coaches Across Continents is a global leader in the sport for social impact movement.

The organization partners with local organizations to implement a 'Hat-Trick Initiative' that focuses on local social issues such as: female empowerment, including gender equity; conflict resolution, including social inclusion; health and wellness, including HIV behavior change; and other life skills.  

Below are two blogs written by Margolius and Segala during their time abroad:

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I Have a Voice
by Marie Margolius, taken from Coaches Across Continents

January 20th 2015. During our second day in Mexico City, Anna and I ran the afternoon session on Female Empowerment. Before taking the field after lunch, we led a short off-field discussion about the rights of women and how the Street Soccer Mexico coaches can foster gender equal environments on the field. The issue of gender inequality was not initially identified as a priority for Street Soccer Mexico, but during our discussion of the abuse and inequality that women face all around the world, it became clear that gender inequality was a main issue in Mexico, too. The most chilling and inspiring revelation of this truth came when one woman by the name of Lasalia, who had not spoken the entire week, stood up and made a heartfelt, passionate announcement. With a twinge of frustration and a sense of urgency in her voice, Lasalia told her (mostly male) peers:

"People often think that women in Mexico don't face the types of abuses that other women around the world face, but in reality they do. Now in Mexico we have more assaults of young girls than people think, but because these girls are often very young they don't or can't talk about it. So yes, there is mistreatment of women by men, but the women are silenced by their male older partners who abuse them. It's different in every country, but it's a problem in our country, too."
 
Although the Street Soccer Mexico director and strategists didn't initially identify gender inequality as a relevant issue in their areas, when Lasalia began speaking about the reality of the gender situation in Mexico, she was met with sincere concern and respect from the Street Soccer Mexico staff. This response was both encouraging and indicative of Street Soccer Mexico's open-mindedness and ability to challenge norms and traditions in the name of social progress.
 
Lasalia's speech gave the CAC staff chills, and Street Soccer Mexico's response warmed our hearts. We couldn't have asked for a better group of coaches for our first week in Mexico! Off to Guadalajara to work with the Rafa Marquez Foundation!!

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Haiti's Field of Dreams
by Marissa Segala, taken from Coaches Across Continents

January 22nd 2015. A far cry from the hustle and bustle of city life in Port au Prince, we began our second week of training with a program called GOALS Haiti located in rural Léogâne. Each morning we piled in the back of the truck and ventured through the bumpy back roads surrounded by fields of sugarcane to the training site. "The field of dreams" as it came to be known, was made of dirt. It had little more than two pipes for each goal, and was the friendly host of an array of farm animals that would graze as we played. I know you're thinking, "What's dreamy about that?" And it's a good question. It was a big rectangle outside just like any other soccer field, but it had cows and goats instead of lines and nets. The dream though, I realized was something that the GOALS coaches brought with them to the pitch each morning.

The coaches wanted to play. They wanted to learn, and work together to solve problems. We would talk in between, but it was evident that the learning and discussions were happening in the dirt, within the games. It was almost impossible not to want to jump in and play with this group. Beyond the impressive touch they each had on the ball, the talent and knowledge poured onto the field from their hearts and minds. It was especially inspiring for me, hearing the four female coaches contribute objectives and dreams of their own involving women in Haiti. On our ASK for Choice day, when we played games and talked about female empowerment, one coach by the name of Dyna spoke out about the ability and necessity for girls to set goals high and to achieve them with the support of the community. She shared how her older brother brought her to a field full of boys when she was young. With their support as well as her family and other adults, she was able to become the great player and coach she is today – a female. The best part is that with her initial dreams achieved, Dyna still comes back to the same field with new dreams for young girls and boys in Léogâne to reach higher and achieve more. She is there to support them.

As a part of the year three curriculum for CAC, the coaches work to create and adapt their own futbol games for social impact and empowerment. I am looking forward to next week, when we get to spend four days in the classroom helping coaches like Dyna develop their own unique games that will continue to fuel the field of dreams here in Léogâne