CHICAGO (June 24, 2011) – Former U.S. Women’s National Team players Linda Hamilton and Tiffany Roberts Sahaydak will travel to Brazil from June 27-July 1 to help lead a soccer camp as part of the U.S. State Department’s Sports Envoy Program.
U.S. Soccer, in conjunction with the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, participates in international sports initiatives as a way to promote sports and spark dialogue with children from around the world.
“I think it’s a great program for trying to promote friendship and goodwill through sports,” said Hamilton. “I think the message of it and what they’re trying to do is great, and we usually have an audience of kids that don’t have the access to coaches and in most of my experience, female coaches. It’s about letting them be close to the gold medals and exposing them to things they don’t normally get exposed to. I think it’s nice to be able to give something back to the game.”
“It’s my hope to inspire young children to set lofty goals and to work toward them,” Sahaydak said. “I enjoy sharing my story with people and I want them to know that with the right energy and passion they can achieve what they’ve set out to do.”
Hamilton and Sahaydak will conduct eight clinics in eight cities over the course of five days. At the clinics, the two will not only discuss soccer, but also how playing sports can help the participants stay active and healthy throughout their life. Sports Envoy also stresses the importance of hard work as it relates to soccer, as well as success and achievement in the classroom and other areas of life. This Sports Envoy in particular is focusing on the women’s side of the game.
“The Brazilians are trying to empower the girls’ side of the game, and we are hoping that by seeing us and seeing that we’ve made a life and a career out of soccer in playing for the national team, that it’s okay to play soccer and be female,” said Hamilton.
“I think that soccer is truly a global language, and I know that most kids are captivated by watching and playing the sport,” Sahaydak said. “That’s the vehicle for delivering some very important tools for succeeding in life. It’s my hope that the kids come away inspired and a bit more educated on how to conquer the challenges that they encounter.”
Hamilton, who earned 71 caps for the U.S. and was a member of the team that won the inaugural Women’s World Cup in 1991, will be attending her third Sports Envoy trip after traveling to the Philippines and Ivory Coast. Sahaydak, who earned 110 caps during nine years with the Women’s National Team and was a member of the team that won the Women’s World Cup in 1999, will be participating in her fourth Sports Envoy trip after traveling to Uganda, the Philippines and Thailand.
“Most of the places we’ve been, the kids we teach are very poor,” said Hamilton. “They don’t even have shoes, there isn’t grass on the field, but they are out there playing, and it reminds me of the game itself and why you love the game. Their excitement and appreciation of you being there makes it all worth it.”
U.S. Soccer has participated in the SportsUnited Sports Envoy program since 2006. In that time, players and coaches traveled to Bahrain, Nigeria, South Africa, Uganda and Thailand. Last fall, Tiffany Roberts and Jay Miller traveled to Thailand. Past participants in the program include Lorrie Fair, Danielle Slaton, Tony Sanneh, Sash Victorine, Marcelo Balboa, Glenn “Mooch” Myernick and Shannon MacMillan.