The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs announced today a basketball Sports Visitor exchange that will bring 12 South African coaches to the United States March 8-19. During the exchange, the coaches will meet with U.S. sports professionals, work with young American athletes at local schools, participate in a National Basketball Association (NBA) clinic, and conduct teambuilding and injury prevention activities in the Washington, D.C. area. The group will conclude their program in Nashville, Tennessee where they will watch regional basketball games and participate in Special Olympics sessions.
This marks the fourth Sports Visitor exchange with South Africa for SportsUnited over the last six years. In 2006, South African soccer players attended the Youth World Cup; in 2008, a delegation of South African baseball coaches came to the U.S. for training and clinics; and, in May 2011, South African female soccer players attended the Women’s World Cup.
Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” embracing the use of a full range of diplomatic tools—in this case, basketball—to bring individuals together in order to foster a greater understanding of societal norms and cultures.
SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ sports exchange program at the U.S. Department of State. 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 almost 900 athletes from 58 countries to the U.S. to participate in Sport Visitor programs. SportsUnited has sent more than 200 U.S. athletes to more than 50 countries to participate in Sport Envoy programs since 2005.
For more information, contact Marthena Cowart of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, at CowartMS@state.gov.