Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
June 8, 2011

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced today that NBA Star and Sacramento Kings’ center Samuel Dalembert and Nykesha Sales, a six-time Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) All-Star, will travel to Haiti June 9 through June 14. Dalembert – who is a native of Haiti – and Sales will lead youth and adult basketball clinics, participate in UNICEF’s annual Haitian Children’s Week, and meet with underserved youth.

On Friday, June 10 at 11:00 a.m. local time, Sales and Dalembert will conduct a press conference. Media interested in covering this event should contact Jon Piechowski, Information Officer at Embassy Port au Prince, at +509-2-229-8000.

Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power diplomacy.” It embraces the use of a full range of diplomatic tools, including sports, to bring individuals together to foster greater understanding.

Sports Envoys are current and retired professional athletes and coaches that travel overseas to conduct drills and team building activities, as well as engage youth in a dialogue on the importance of education, positive health practices and respect for diversity. In partnership with the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ SportsUnited Office, 42 NBA and WNBA players and coaches have visited 19 different countries since 2004, where they have conducted basketball clinics for thousands of young boys, girls and coaches.

Previous sports envoy program diplomats include: Willie Green of the New Orleans Hornets; Miami Heat Head Coach Erik Spoelstra; former NBA player and Olympic gold medalist Sam Perkins; NBA Hall of Famer George “The Iceman” Gervin, and WNBA basketball greats Cynthia Cooper and Sue Wicks.

SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ premier sports exchange program at the U.S. Department of State. Athletes and coaches from a range of sports are chosen to conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage with youth overseas in a dialogue on the importance of an education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity. Since 2003, SportsUnited has brought more than 600 athletes from 44 countries to the U.S. to participate in Sport Visitor programs. Since 2005, SportsUnited has sent more than 100 U.S. athletes to 40 countries to participate in Sport Envoy programs.

For more information, contact Talley Sergent of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, U.S. Department of State, at or Jon Piechowski, Information Officer at Embassy Port au Prince at or +509-2-229-8000.

PRN: 2011/926