World Cup Veterans Tony Sanneh and Kate Markgraf Participate in U.S. Department of State Soccer Envoy Program in Ethiopia
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.
A starter for the USA in the last six world championships, she played her last match for the U.S. National Team on July 17 against Sweden in East Hartford, Conn., and retires as one of the greatest defenders in U.S. history.
Markgraf gave birth to twins, Carson (girl) and Xavier (boy) in July 2009, which forced her to miss the inaugural WPS season, but she played almost every minute for the Chicago Red Stars in 2010. Markgraf had her first son, Keegan, in July 2006. Formerly Kate Sobrero, she married Chris Markgraf in 2003.
Due to her solid WPS season this year, Markgraf was called back to the WNT and played in three matches in 2010, pushing her career cap total over 200 and making her just one of seven players to reach that mark.
Markgraf was the least experienced starter on the ground-breaking 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup Team. She had just 27 caps when she started with Carla Overbeck in the center of the U.S. defense in the opening game of that historic tournament.
Always a gritty and athletic defender, she grew into a leader in the back for the USA and was a fixture in the starting lineup for over 11 years, missing significant stretches of games only when she was pregnant and recovering from childbirth. She finishes her career having started 187 of her 201 caps while starting for the USA in the 1999, 2003 and 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cups and on the 2000, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Teams.
Her 201 caps rank seventh all-time in U.S. history and her 187 starts rank sixth. She earned her 100th career cap against Korea DPR in the 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cup and her 200th on July 13, 2010, against Sweden in Omaha, Neb.
As a collegian, she started all 96 games she played at Notre Dame and helped the Fighting Irish to an NCAA title in 1995.
One of Markgraf’s most memorable moments came on Sept. 20, 2008, at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill., when she scored what would be her only goal in a U.S. uniform, burying a penalty kick against Ireland.
Markgraf played in both the WUSA, where she played three seasons for the Boston Breakers, and in WPS, where she played this past season for the Red Stars.
The retirement of Markgraf leaves just three players from the 1999 Women’s World Cup squad still active in professional soccer: defender Christie Rampone, midfielder Kristine Lilly and forward Tiffeny Milbrett.
A four year starter at Notre Dame, she started all 96 games in her career and was a three time NSCAA All American, earning First Team honors twice … Scored seven goals with 24 assists in four years at Notre Dame … Captained the Fighting Irish as a senior … Her play at marking back during her sophomore year was instrumental in the Fighting Irish winning the 1995 NCAA championship … Was the Defensive MVP of the 1995 NCAA Final Four … Was on the cover of Soccer America following Notre Dame's NCAA title ... Scored the game winning goal in the 1994 NCAA semifinal against Portland on a header ... Was a three-time All Big East selection and the Big East Defensive Player of the Year as a senior … Was an All MCC selection as a freshman before Notre Dame moved to the Big East … Scored 16 goals and had 26 assists as a forward at Detroit Country Day en route to the 1991 state championship as a junior … Was an NSCAA All American and three time all state selection at Country Day … Was also an all league outside hitter in volleyball for three years at Country Day.