CHICAGO (April 4, 2013) – Former U.S. Women’s National Team defender Lorrie Fair and goalkeeper Mary Harvey will travel to Iraq as part of the U.S. Department of State’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative. During their time in Iraq, Fair and Harvey, both FIFA Women’s World Cup Champions, will draw upon the lessons of the landmark U.S. law, Title IX – which afforded opportunity and equality for American women in sports and education – to engage more than 350 young athletes through clinics and discussions on the importance of education, inclusion, and health and wellness.
“It’s a real privilege to be able to give back to my own federation and do this one their behalf,” Harvey said. “You learn a few things when you’re out on the field but now I get to come back and contribute to U.S. Soccer and that’s a great feeling. You know, once a National Team player, always a National Team player. I’m just really grateful for the opportunity and it’s going to be a humbling and gratifying experience to meet all these terrific women and men in Iraq and experience that with them and hopefully be part of their journey. I’m really looking forward to this.”
While it will be Harvey’s first trip as a State Department sports diplomat, Fair is no stranger, having participated in several trips, including one to Afghanistan in November 2012. (Watch footage of Lorrie’s trip here).
“It’s hard to say why I do it because I feel like I take a lot more than I give,” said Fair. “[The participants] are so inspiring in each of their stories that for me it’s a learning experience in terms of culture, it’s about them and connecting with and if I can give them an ounce of what they give me, it would be nice to think that.
“We’re all connected on the planet as human beings and a lot of times we forget about that. I think the State Department realizes there is a lot more going on in the lives of these young girls and for them to even come in to contact with people like me and people that have been given that privilege and that right, that right to sport, can give them hope for something in the future.”
The Empowering Women and Girls through Sports Initiative aims to increase the number of women and girls involved in sports. It is comprised of three pillars: sports envoys (American athletes who travel overseas); sports visitors (youth athletes and coaches who travel to the United States); and the cornerstone of the initiative, the U.S. Department of State and espnW Global Sports Mentoring Program. For more information, click here.
In partnership with the State Department, U.S. Soccer players, coaches and administrators have visited more than 24 countries since 2006. The athletes have offered soccer clinics for thousands of boys, girls and coaches.