Coaches from Libya visit for cultural awareness through soccer exchange program
A group of soccer coaches and players from Libya are on a cultural awareness visit to the United States through a Department of State (DOS) sponsored two-week exchange program.
Libya is a country in Africa that went through a political uprising in 2011 and is emerging as a free country. This visit offers the Libyan soccer players an opportunity to interact with Americans, experience American culture, and participate in activities that teach gender equity in sports.
“Started as a soft diplomacy effort after the events of 9/11, the cultural exchange program took off in 2006 with players from different sports and different countries visiting the United States each month to learn aboutconflict resolution through sports” said Kelly Davis of DOS.
Central Maryland Futsal League (CMFL) hosted the Libyan players yesterday at Athletic Performance Inc., located in Gambrills, MD. The players participated in individual and team futsal training with Under 11 girls from Baltimore Chelsea soccer club team. Futsal is similar to soccer but played indoors with a heavier ball.
“Some girls on the Under 11 Baltimore Chelsea soccer club team never played futsal before and came to experience it along with the visiting soccer players,” said Chris Swope, head coach of the Under 11 girls team.
The group of visiting players is also a mix of elite and semi-elite players from different cities in Libya and received instructions from CMFL director Mike Scarf through a translator. Language did not appear to be a barrier when the players interacted and played futsal with the girls. Mike has been hosting international teams and conducting clinics through this program for the last five years.
The next stop for the visiting players is Washington, DC followed by other area soccer clubs in the metropolitan area to play friendly games and participate in various soccer clinics.