Media Note
Bureau of Public Affairs, Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
June 5, 2009


The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) SportsUnited office, in partnership with Global Sports Partners/Sport4Peace, the University of Tennessee and the National Basketball Association, is hosting a delegation of basketball-playing girls and their coaches from Iraq. They are visiting Washington, DC and Knoxville, Tennessee from June 3-18 to experience women's basketball in the United States. The ten girls, ages 14-16, and two female coaches are from Sulaymaniya, Erbil, and Baghdad.

This Sports Visitor program is designed to teach the girls new basketball skills and introduce them to sports in America, through visits and clinics at high schools, clubs, and universities. In addition, the program will provide guidance about nutrition, strength and conditioning, and team building. The girls will have the opportunity to learn about the development of women’s sports, including Title IX. In Washington they will attend a Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) game, the Washington Mystics vs. the Atlanta Dream, featuring the best women basketball players from America and around the world. Basketball is the fastest growing sport in the Middle East, and this group is committed to learning more about the game and taking that knowledge back to their teammates in Iraq.

After their time in Washington, the girls and their coaches will visit the basketball camps of the all-time winningest basketball coach in NCAA history, Pat Summitt, at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. They will have the opportunity to interact with girls their own age, learn about basketball, and experience life in Tennessee, including hiking in the Smoky Mountains.

For more information on the Department’s SportsUnited office, and to follow this program through the players’ and coaches’ blog, visit http://exchanges.state.gov/sports/index.html. For more information on Global Sports Partners/Sport4Peace, go to www.sport4peace.org.

Media Contact: Darlene Kirk, 202-203-7616 or kirkdk@state.gov.



PRN: 2009/548