US Empowers Women and Girls Through Sports

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The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and U.S. Soccer announced today a series of Sports Envoy programs to take place in Algeria, Argentina, Malaysia, Morocco, and Venezuela this spring.

The Sports Envoy programs part of the “Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative wherein former members of the U.S. Women’s and Men’s National Teams will be dispatched across the world to engage women and girls on the soccer field.

Sports Envoys are current or retired athletes, coaches, or sports administrators who travel abroadon behalf of the United States to engage youth.

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Ann Stock is the current Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs, having been sworn in on June 23, 2010.

As the initiative kicked off today, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Ann Stock outlined the new initiative that will mobilize the Sports Envoys and Sports Visitors programs. She also announced a new Sports Mentorship program that will serve as a key pillar of the initiative.

Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy,” which embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools in this case the game of soccer to bring people together and foster greater understanding.

Danielle Slaton and Tony Sanneh is set to travel as Sports Envoys to Malaysia. Former General Manager of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team (USWNT) Cheryl Bailey will join on this trip as the first Sports Administrator to focus on girls’ sports program administration.

In March, Kate Sobrero and Linda Hamilton will travel to Algeria, while Amanda Cromwell and former USWNT coach Lauren Gregg will go to Argentina. Siri Mullinix and Lorrie Fair will travel to Venezuela this Mrah. In April, Angela Hucles, Marian Dalmy, and University of Washington head coach Lesle Gallimore will lead Sports Envoy programs in Morocco.

While they are abroad, former National Team players, coaches, and administrators will conduct soccer clinics for underserved youth, including girls. The Sports Envoys will engage youth through the game of soccer.

The Sports envoys will also work with program administrators to increase the sustainability of girls’ soccer programming.

They are also tasked to participate in community outreach activities and have a dialogue on the importance of leadership and respect for diversity.

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Office leads the U.S. Department of State’s international exchange efforts to bring the global community together through sports. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent over 150 athletes and coaches to more than 50 countries.

In June 2011, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural had granted 15 Indonesian female soccer players (ages 15 – 18), three coaches, and one administrator to the United States to build relationships with U.S. youth players and coaches.

Continuing its efforts to use sports as a means to empower women and girls worldwide, 14 Iraqi volleyball coaches arrived in the United States on December 2011 to participate in an international sports exchange as spearheaded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also acknowledged the launching of the 100 Women Initiative for empowering women and girls in the 21st century last March 2011.

Secretary Clinton always stressed that investing in women and girls is smart.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.