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Building cross-cultural understanding through sports diplomacy

November 13, 2017

FHI 360 has been awarded a cooperative agreement by the U.S. Department of State to implement the Sports Visitor and Sports Envoy Program, which uses sports as a platform to enhance cross-cultural understanding and open new avenues of dialogue and collaboration between the United States and other countries.

youth in circle holding soccer ballsThe Sports Envoy program sends current or retired U.S. coaches and athletes to countries around the world to lead sports clinics, promote inclusive values and strengthen youth resiliency. The Sports Visitor program brings coaches, administrators and youth athletes from other countries to the United States to interact with American peers and to experience American society and culture through the lens of sport. Together, the Sports Visitor and Sports Envoy program highlights American expertise, leadership and lessons learned in the sporting arena, from community-based recreational youth play to the professional levels, focusing on the professional and leadership development of youth, coaches and sports administrators. The program will be administered by FHI 360, with funding from the U.S. Department of State’s Sports Diplomacy Division within the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

“Sports-based, people-to-people exchanges can lay the foundation of trust needed to build a more stable, secure and prosperous world,” said Beverly Attallah, Director of Global Connections at FHI 360. “We hope that this program will build strong relationships between Americans and their international counterparts.”

The program also provides an overview of sports in America, from the grassroots and community levels to the Olympics, Paralympics and professional leagues, along with information on how the Civil Rights Movement and landmark legislation, such as Title IX and the Americans with Disabilities Act, have impacted participation in sports and success in life for minorities, girls and people with disabilities. This information, in combination with the programmatic activities, is designed to increase understanding of American society, culture and history; promote cross-cultural understanding; and enhance an appreciation for diversity between Americans and participating athletes and administrators. The program also aims to develop participants’ capacity to build stable communities in the United States and abroad.

For more than 30 years, FHI 360 has been developing international exchange programs for emerging leaders in a wide range of disciplines and sectors, such as health and medicine, communications, education, entrepreneurship, economics and nutrition. “We are pleased to apply our experience in building successful international exchanges to the Sports Visitor and Sports Envoy program,” said Attallah.

Photo credit: FHI 360