KUWAIT: The Public Affairs Section at the US Embassy in Kuwait held a free youth soccer clinic by professional US coaches at East Jahra football field on Tuesday. The clinic, for boys and girls between the ages of 8-21, featured three coaches from the United States who are visiting Kuwait as part of a Sports Diplomacy Program sponsored by the US Embassy in Kuwait.

Cultural Attache at the US Embassy Nelson Wen said: “The US Embassy offers a range of academic and cultural exchange programs to create bonds and understanding between the people of Kuwait and the United States. So we bring musicians, artists and others to share their experiences, including in the sports field, which promotes a healthy lifestyle and develops leadership and teamwork.”

He added that the Sports Diplomacy Program is one of the exchange programs offered by the US Department of State that brings top athletes and coaches from the United States to share their knowledge and experiences with coaches and players from around the world. “We have organized a panel discussion on sports marketing at Kuwait Club which is open to the public, and anyone who has a sports business can join. We have another clinic at Kuwait Sports Club with Basma Al-Ayoub. Also, we will be participating in the women’s football tournament today,” Wen said.

Lisa Berg, who is a US soccer scout for the US women’s youth national teams and coaching with Club Atletico Zacatepec and Academia Satelite Futsat in Mexico, said: “This one-week program is about connecting Americans with Kuwaiti coaches, where we came from the United States to share knowledge and experiences with coaches and players of Kuwait.”

Sarah Huffman, former US women’s national team player and a test analyst for Nike, affirmed that the program allows them to play football with boys and girls and talk with them about empowering women and the different opportunities that they may have. Huffman expressed her happiness to visit Kuwait, saying: “This is my first time in Kuwait. The people are very nice, welcoming and have a lot of energy.”

“We have a two-year scholarship by the US embassy including entertainment and educational activities for students, in addition to learning English and cultural exchanges between the two countries. I see the students benefiting from the program, where they practice English with native speakers,” said Khalid, an English teacher at Atlas Training Institute who is in charge of the program for Jahra students. Captain Suhail, Technical Manager at Sporty Academy, revealed 18 boys are participating in the program. “We hope in the future to include girls,” he added.

The athletes and coaches who visit other countries under the Sports Diplomacy Program are called sports envoys. These envoys represent a variety of sports, from Olympic sports to adventure sports and sports for people with disabilities. Last year, the US Embassy brought a gold medal coach to train the wheelchair basketball team at the Kuwait Disabled Sports Club.

By Faten Omar