By Frances Esguerra, Writer
Coaches Across Continents (CAC) recently launched a six-month pilot program to unite the fractured, grief-stricken society of Rohingya refugees who fled from the Rakhine state of Myanmar in response to attacks by Rohingya militants. CAC is a UK- and US-based non-governmental organization that uses soccer to improve the quality of life of children in low-income areas. With the support of the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF), the CAC is using soccer to rebuild the foundation of a people whose world was turned upside down by violence.
Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh has become home to more than 900,000 Rohingya refugees, making the town three times bigger than any other refugee camp in the world. Described by the UN as “a textbook example of ethnic cleansing,” the mass exodus of Rohingya Muslims beginning in August 2017 is believed to be the world’s fastest growing refugee crisis.
Over the six-month pilot program, CAC has trained 75 local Rohingya refugees to become soccer coaches in 25 different camps within Cox’s Bazar. The AFC and BFF have provided equipment for the 500,000 children under the age of 17 living in the camps. The program will conclude with a Football Fun Festival in May 2019 with hopes of continuing and expanding with additional funding.
Why We Like it:
We appreciate CAC’s efforts in taking a community-based approach in uplifting the Rohingya community. Training refugee coaches to work with and support others in the camp facilitates social engagement through sport, fostering connections founded on empathy. Not only can both the coaches and children focus on an activity other than their plight, but they can work side-by-side with others who understand their situation. CAC’s initiative is an inspiring use of sport to unite a resilient people in such a difficult time.
How it Can Be Improved:
With the help of the AFC and BFF, CAC has been able to provide athletic equipment to the boys and girls within the camps, but additional support and funding from other organizations would ideally help develop the six-month pilot program into a more consistent, longer-lasting initiative to keep refugee spirits high. CAC and the trained refugee coaches could work together to organize a league for the people of Cox’s Bazar to rally behind.
Philanthropy Playmakers is a sports philanthropy consulting firm that advises non-profits, athletes and foundations. Our core competencies include fundraising strategy, strategic planning, marketing and communications at the intersection of sports and philanthropy. To learn more, contact us.