Video: Youth Empowerment Through Sports

 

A YouTube Video produced by the U.S. Embassy about the recent “Youth Empowerment Through Sports” Programming we did in conjunction with the State Department and Nike Football:

 

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Ethiopian Herald Article: Gender Empowerment Through Football: US Embassy Donation and Clinic

I have been in Ethiopia for the past two years as an English Language Fellow, yet I understand that there is still one language which trumps all else: Football.  Spoken by more people around the world, with different dialects translated through their passes and shots, the Beautiful Game resonates from all corners of the globe, yelled in cantinas during Copa América and whispered in boardrooms during the World Cup.  I have been in taxis in Vladivostok where I can’t speak Russian but a dialogue about CSKA Moscow has gotten me a friendly fare, or on a Camel in Egypt where a comment about El Ahly has provided me with a friendly smile.  It truly is a “Global Language” and in addition to English, one which I am more than happy to share.

Recently the U.S. Embassy hosted a week-long clinic and donation in both Addis Ababa and Dire Dawa, working with local youth female teams on a project of Gender Empowerment through Football.  Sports are a mechanism for social change and within an Ethiopian context it is evident that Football is something which inspires, motivates, and promotes a number of different positive elements as they relate to youth.  In partnership with the Embassy was the Ethiopian Football Federation who helped in the selection of local area teams, with over 200 female players taking part in the respective cities.

Group Photo
Group Photo

Leading the clinics were two esteemed Women coaches from the United States and Ethiopia, working together to develop drills which addressed both fitness and technique.  From the U.S. was Lesle Gallimore, Head Coach at the University of Washington, while representing Ethiopia was Meseret Manni, Head Coach of the Dire Dawa Premier League Team.  Acting as role models for the girl participants, Lesle and Meseret not only spoke to the on-field conditioning, but moreover, to the mental preparation necessary to find success, including positive self-esteem; having belief in oneself that anything is possible.

The clinics themselves were complimented by a large donation from Nike, including over $20,000USD worth of cleats, balls and uniforms for the participants.  Organized over the course of a year, Nike was gracious in their donation, securing about 100 pairs of cleats, 50 balls and other equipment including shin guards, goal keeper gloves, socks and jerseys to give to the youth female players.  Teams from Ambo, Addis and Dire were each able to receive these Nike donations, all of which will hopefully go to embolden them both on and off the field; for the equipment itself is only worth something if the players believe in themselves.

Football is something which has continued to play a part in my life, from when I was a small child playing organized games through AYSO (American Youth Soccer Organization) to years later in High School where I was able to travel to Europe to compete against some of the best youth teams in the world.  I have been lucky enough to see Neymar play in Korea, Zidane play in France, and even Maradona play in America, each representing the dream which hundreds of millions of youth have, regardless of their location or corresponding circumstances.  To be able to be a part of this Football Outreach on behalf of the U.S. Embassy, giving back to communities which have hosted me over the course of the past two years, truly speaks to the global power of Football and the positive lasting implications it has…

Matthew Jellick is in Ethiopia on a Teaching Fellowship with the U.S. Department of State. He holds an M.A. in Teaching from the University of Southern California. You can follow his cultural and educational journey @mjellick