U.S. using American soccer players as envoys in Pakistan for World Cup outreach

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A sign with the logo of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia is on display near the Kremlin before the events, dedicated to the upcoming World Cup Final Draw, in central Moscow, Russia November 29, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin/Files

Former U.S. national soccer team members Tony Sanneh and Lorrie Fair Allen are in Pakistan from June 24-July 1 (during the FIFA World Cup) as the State Department’s first ‘Sports Envoys’ to Pakistan.

Their U.S.-government sponsored trip is part of continuing U.S. efforts to help youth in Pakistan develop skills to contribute positively to their communities, the State Department said in a press release June 25..

The Sports Envoys will work with youth and coaches in Islamabad, Karachi, and surrounding areas, hosting daily clinics and motivational sessions for Pakistan’s diverse communities, including girls from underserved parts of Peshawar, the press release said. Sanneh and Fair Allen will also connect with Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) members via a Facebook Live program.

Logo on the Twitter website of the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad (Photo:twitter.com/usembislamabad)

In Karachi, the Sports Envoys plan to give soccer skills training and convey messages of leadership, teamwork, and inclusion to multiple soccer clubs and academies, including several organizations dedicated to increasing sports inclusivity for girls and women. They will also join World Cup 2018 watch parties and engage with the media and fans in Pakistan, according to the State Department.

The World Cup is an opportunity to showcase U.S. sports diplomacy while also providing people with an opportunity to learn about different cultures and connect with fellow soccer fans around the world, the press release said.

In the backdrop of the global popularity of soccer, or ‘football’ as it is called in other countries, the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) has harnessed the sport and some of its players in an effort to “build bridges, reach out to new audiences, and promote inclusivity” through its Sports Diplomacy office.

Those interested in the visit can follow the Pakistan soccer outreach program on Twitter (@USEmbIslamabad and @USConsulateKhi) and Facebook (@pakistan.usembassy and @karachi.usconsulate).

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