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Lorrie Fair and Jay Miller Return from Morocco After Participating in Sports Envoy Program

CHICAGO (April 7, 2008) — Former U.S. Women’s National Team veteran Lorrie Fair and former U.S. Under-17 Men's National Team coach Jay Miller traveled to Morocco for a four-day soccer clinic with 60 children from all over the African country as part of the first Sports Envoy program of 2008.

Launched in 2006, the Sports Envoy program pairs U.S. Soccer with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs on a sports initiative that sends players and coaches from U.S. Soccer’s National Teams as State Department Sports Envoys to conduct clinics and spark a dialogue with local children around the world. Each program includes one male and one female Sports Envoy.

“Rather than dwelling on the differences in other countries and religions, for four days we focused on the things we had in common,” said Miller of his experience. “After awhile the differences become miniscule. We didn’t talk about politics, and we didn’t talk about the United States. We just jumped on the field and enjoyed each other.”

The 30 girls and 30 boys learned skills and basic tactics during what, for some of the kids, was the first time they played on a grass field. Both Fair and Miller hope that they took away more than soccer skills from their four days.

“For me as a coach, I always want whoever I’m coaching to take in how I am as a person,” said Fair. “Through football you can see your character shine through. For me, I didn’t really care if they took anything about soccer from it. I cared that they took integrity and character from it.”

The Department of State, in partnership with U.S. Soccer’s International Relations Program, launched the World Cup Sports Initiative which brought 30 young soccer players from 13 countries to participate in a soccer program in Germany, New York and Washington D.C. in 2006. The International Relations Program created by U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati helps strengthen U.S. Soccer’s ties within the worldwide soccer community.

In 2006, players and coaches from U.S. Soccer’s National Team program traveled to the countries of Bahrain, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda and in 2007, Tiffany Roberts and Linda Hamilton traveled to the Philippines. Other past participants in the program include Marcelo Balboa, Glenn “Mooch” Myernick, Shannon MacMillan and Cindy Parlow.

In the program, the U.S. players and coaches conduct clinics that extend beyond simple soccer drills, taking the time to showcase team-building activities The U.S. coaches and players emphasize the values of teamwork, respect and leadership as the important platforms of the Sports Envoy program.

More information on upcoming Sports Envoys will be provided as it becomes available.

Dates              Country               Participants
Sept. 2006    South Africa         Glenn Myernick, Shannon MacMillan
Sept. 2006    Bahrain                 Phil Wheddon, Cindy Parlow
Oct. 2006      Nigeria                  Marcelo Balboa, Lauren Gregg
Oct. 2006      Uganda                 Curt Onalfo, Tiffany Roberts
May 2007      Phillipines            Linda Hamilton, Tiffany Roberts
April 2008     Morocco                Lorrie Fair, Jay Miller