The Center for Sport Leadership at Virginia Commonwealth University will lead a delegation of local soccer coaches and youth soccer players to Kazakhstan this summer for a program aimed at ways sports can create social change.
The program, called ENVEST (Empowering New Voices through Education and Sport Training) is funded by a $700,000 grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs through its Sports Diplomacy Division.
The Richmond-based delegation will travel to Astana, Kazakhstan from Aug. 7-13 where they will meet with coaches and players from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. The visit will coincide with the World Expo taking place in Astana this summer.
ENVEST will operate under the leadership of Center for Sport Leadership Executive Director Carrie LeCrom, Ph.D., who has been awarded three previous grants from the U.S. Department of State and has partnered with them to lead sport-for-development missions in Ethiopia, China and South Africa.
“We are grateful to be working with U.S. Department of State again to provide impactful sport for development programming,” LeCrom said. “The trip to Kazakhstan is unique because it is the first time youth will be part of our delegation.”
The youth players and coaches will participate in programming designed to promote cultural understanding. Groups from all countries will create action plans using soccer as a vehicle to address social issues effecting their communities.
The Center for Sport Leadership, which is part of the VCU School of Education, is partnering with the Richmond Strikers Soccer Club and the Football Federation of Kazakhstan. Following the U.S. delegation’s visit this summer, a delegation from Kazakhstan and other participating countries will visit the United States in early 2018.
“By incorporating strategic partners in a productive way, ENVEST has the potential to not only be impactful to those involved, but to have a ripple effect, reaching so many others as well,” LeCrom said.