OHIO receives grant to support cultural exchange and development through soccer
U.S. Department of State awards Ohio University $225,000 for sport and development

ATHENS, Ohio (Oct. 20, 2009) — The SportsUnited Office of the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has awarded a $225,000 grant to Ohio University. 

The grant will foster cultural interaction among youth and be used to develop a two-way educational exchange among diverse youth populations in underserved communities in the United States and in three African countries:  Senegal, Ghana and South Africa. 

The program is designed to encourage community involvement, develop a holistic, integrated training course for youth sport coaches who work with younger children, help build sport management skills, and teach the positive link between sport and health. 

In Africa, the program will be implemented through Ohio University’s grant partner, PLAY SOCCER Nonprofit Incorporated, and through the PLAYSOCCER Network of country organizations. In the USA, it will go through Ohio University staff and its Kids on Campus program, an enrichment program that serves Appalachian communities in Athens County, Ohio.

Over the next three years, a team of staff experts from Ohio University, including Dr. David Carr, who was awarded the 2009 US Youth Soccer Thomas Fleck Award for Excellence in Coaching Education, will travel to Africa to deliver clinics and training sessions in the participating countries and to learn about the PLAY SOCCER program.

The Ohio team visit will kick off in December 2009 in South Africa. In exchange, each summer, starting in 2010, South African, Ghanaian and Senegalese youth coaches will travel to the United States to Ohio University to be part of Kids on Campus activities and PLAY SOCCER program activities in nearby communities.  Approximately 45 African youth coaches will participate, staying at the Ohio University’s Athens campus.

The Ohio University PLAY SOCCER partnership plans a broad outreach and impact from the grant program.  Other organizations will be invited to participate in the interactions, clinics and training sessions. Additionally, in South Africa, a session will be held at the PLAY SOCCER Alexandra site, the host location of the Football for Hope Festival, an official 2010 World Cup South Africa event for youth to celebrate the social dimension of the game.  PLAY SOCCER is a designated Football for Hope Centre host for the official 2010 World Cup South Africa Campaign, “20 Centres for 2010.”  The Centre programs are intended to leave a World Cup legacy in Africa to improve basic education, promote health, and encourage social integration, and to demonstrate the power of sport for development.

Contact: Executive Director of University Communications and Marketing Renea Morris at 740-593-2563 or morrisr@ohio.edu; or Andrew Kreutzer, Ohio University associate professor, at (740) 593-9495 or kreutzer@ohio.edu.