It could well be argued that the 2014 World Cup has been one of the most exciting Cups of recent history. There have been both goals galore -- including a goal scored by the youngest American in a World Cup, 19-year old Julian Green -- and incredible goalkeeping, led by American Tim Howard’s record 16 saves in the U.S. match against Belgium. Unexpected runs deep into the knockout rounds have created legions of new country fans. And the U.S. Men’s National Team (USMNT) put on a showing that represented our country’s dedication, work ethic, and teamwork.
No one, not even the octopus, could have guessed how well this Cup has played out both on the field and off. Throughout the excitement, ecstasy, and sometimes heartache, “Sports for All,” Mission Brazil’s sports diplomacy strategy, has continued to reach marginalized audiences, teach English, and build lasting linkages between the United States and Brazil.
While tourists flew into Brazil from around the globe, last week over 100 Brazilian youth participated in a week-long English Immersion camp, sponsored by U.S. Mission Brazil. One youth participant flew on a plane for the first time to get to camp and explained that the program was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him. Up to this point, his English has been self-taught, as his family does not have the resources to send him to classes.
On Tuesday, July 8, Ambassador Ayalde launched another “Sports for All” program called "Sport for Community: Emerging Leaders in Action." This program, implemented in conjunction with Partners of the Americas and ECA’s SportsUnited, pairs 15 high potential leaders from Brazil’s sport for development sector with mentors from U.S.-based private and non-profit organizations for a two-way exchange. "Sport for Community" aims to translate the energy generated around mega sporting events, like the World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics, into expanded opportunities to empower community leaders and their sport for development organizations.
Mission Brazil’s “Sports for All” initiative will continue even after the stadiums fall silent, the cameras disappear, and the tourists return home. More sport envoy visits, a female mentorship program, sports-based English language learning, and exchange programs are scheduled to continue our efforts to promote greater social inclusion, educational opportunities, and youth empowerment in Brazil.
About the Author: Matthew Ferner serves as a Cultural Affairs Specialist with theSportsUnited Division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. He’s currently serving a rotation as a Cultural Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, Brazil.