Continuing its efforts to use sports as a means to empower women and girls worldwide, the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced that 14 Iraqi volleyball coaches arrived in the United States today to participate in an international sports exchange. The all-female Iraqi delegation, who will be in the United States from December 8, through December 20, will meet with their American counterparts in Washington, D.C. and San Antonio, Texas. They will visit local schools, participate in team-building exercises, and engage with athletes and coaches with physical and intellectual disabilities during sessions organized by the Special Olympics and USA Volleyball. In addition, they will participate in the American Volleyball Coaches Association convention in San Antonio.
Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy.” It embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools, in this case sports, to bring people, especially youth, together for greater understanding.
The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs leads the U.S. Department of State’s international exchange efforts in bringing the global community together through sports. Through the SportsUnited Office, 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 over 879 athletes from 58 countries to the United States for Sports Visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent over 203 U.S. athletes or coaches to 51 countries for participation in Sports Envoy programs.