CHICAGO (July 13, 2012) – Former U.S. Men’s National Team defender Tony Sanneh and former U.S. Women’s National Team defender Kate Markgraf are in Ethiopia participating in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Soccer Envoy Program. Sanneh and Markgraf will be in Ethiopia until July 15 as part of a U.S. government exchange program that brings people together for greater understanding through sports.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to represent our country and give back to the global football community,” said 2002 FIFA World Cup veteran Sanneh. “Soccer is one of the ties that bind countries around the world, and the chance to connect with people across so many different cultures and share our love and passion for the sport is a wonderful gift. We hope through this program that in some small way we can make a difference in people’s lives.”
The envoys are at work in the eastern Ethiopian city of Dire Dawa, where they will head the soccer portion of a four-day Youth Culture, Sport and Friendship Camp sponsored by the U.S. Embassy in Addis Ababa. This camp, organized together with the Ethio-Italy Technical College, The Dire Dawa Mayor’s Office, The Dire Dawa Sports Commission and the Dire Dawa Police Commission, is aimed at exchanging cultural traditions and promoting healthy living through sport and education. The envoys will work with young men and women, ages 13 – 20.
Sport Envoys are current and retired professional athletes and coaches from a range of sports that travel overseas to conduct drills, lead teambuilding sessions, and engage youth in a dialogue on the importance of education, health, and respect for diversity. In partnership with SportsUnited, US Soccer players, coaches and administrators have visited over 18 countries since 2006. The athletes have offered soccer clinics for thousands of boys, girls, and coaches.
SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ premier sports exchange program at the U.S. Department of State. Athletes and coaches from a range of sports are chosen to conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage with youth overseas in a dialogue on the importance of an education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity. Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought nearly 1,000 athletes from over 60 countries to the U.S. to participate in Sport Visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent over 220 U.S. athletes to more than 50 countries to participate in Sport Envoy programs.