Soccer for Social Change: The Results of a Cultural Exchange with Jordanian Coaches
Lindsey Blom, Ball State University, USA
Theme: Life skills/learning strategies (includes coping)
Program ID: LEC-10C
Presentation: October 4, 2013 8:15 am - 9:30 am
Gains in cultural sensitivity (Dufy et al., 2005), cultural consciousness (Dufy et al., 2005), self-awareness of bias (Cruz & Patterson, 2005), and open-mindedness (Lampe, 1994) are benefits of cultural exchange programs. Additionally, sport has been recognized as having the ability to facilitate social change (UN General Assembly, 2003). Together these two methods of interaction can bring diverse people together to foster an improved sense of trust, sense of community, and pro-social behaviors (e.g., Wells et al., 2005). This presentation will focus on the implementation and results of the second phase of a sport for peace and understanding project funded by the Department of State that involved a 12-day U.S. based experience for 12 Jordanian youth soccer coaches. This trip included stops in Chicago, Columbus, and Indianapolis for various cultural, sport and peace events and site visits and then concluded on the Ball State University campus. The goal was to promote cultural understanding and advance coaches’ knowledge relating to soccer skills and developing citizenship behaviors and peaceful living skills in their athletes. Coaches completed journals chronicling the trip as well as pre-post knowledge tests and post-program evaluation surveys. Comments from the coaches emphasized their enjoyment of the trip, new energy to make changes within their home organizations, appreciation of American hospitality, new awareness of U.S. culture, and their newly formed friendships. When discussing their “take home messages”, coaches highlighted the U.S. youth soccer approach to inclusion of athletes with disabilities, diverse backgrounds, and women. Comments also reflected the number of soccer facilities, the massive and modern high school and university facilities, and the freedom for honest discussion and debate. Further results indicated that participants were satisfied with their experience, improved their knowledge of soccer and peaceful living skills, and maintained or improved their mutual understanding.