U.S. Soccer sent eight representatives to four nations as part of the International Sports Initiative, a joint effort with the U.S. State Department to showcase sports personalities as part of both diplomacy and outreach initiatives.
The envoys each included one former player and one former coach. Current and former coaches Lauren Gregg, Glenn “Mooch” Myernick, Curt Onalfo and Phil Wheddon joined former players Marcelo Balboa, Shannon MacMillan, Cindy Parlow and Tiffany Roberts in visiting South Africa, Bahrain, Nigeria and Uganda.
During their four-day visit, the envoys would hold clinics for approximately 400 boys and girls while also visiting schools to reach as many people as possible. In each country, the envoys also visited the Ambassador or Consul General from the respective nations and would hold a joint press conference to promote the trip.
The purpose of the visits was to educate target audience on American values with a goal of highlighting the positive aspects of American culture and that sports initiatives can help youth discover that success in athletics translates into life skills, long term well-being and physical health. The values of teamwork, respect and leadership were stressed as a dialog was opened through the clinics that also included an appropriate level of technical training.
The envoys’ itineraries were prepared by the State Department and executed by the staff of the local embassy and/or consulates in the countries visited. The trip was funding by the State Department, who also assisted in processing visas and reviewed the itinerary and objectives of the trip with the U.S. Soccer representatives.
A that includes photos, a brief recap and the itinerary for each of the four trips made by the envoys is available for download.