The term the beautiful game was coined and made popular by one of the most prolific soccer players, otherwise known as footballers outside of the US, to grace the pitch, Pele. His words were not just a description of a game played by professionals in front of packed stadiums, but also of the sense of community and uniting power the game brings to people across the globe. One thing seen again and again by Spirit of America project managers across multiple continents is the love for the game. Children play in the streets, grown men have tournaments, and women have started leagues that help empower females as they strive for equal rights and representation. That’s why team Tandy – Project Managers Terrell + Andy – was so excited to be contacted by the United States Embassies in Panama and Costa Rica to assist initiatives to donate soccer balls and air pumps to children in impoverished and underdeveloped communities. The timing of these efforts is perfect, as the World Cup kicks off and helps unite people around the world. Our diplomats, military service members, and government official working abroad will use this donation to truly connect with local youth and make a difference in local communities searching for unity and hope in their daily lives.
Through this outreach program, the United States Embassies in Costa Rica and Panama will foster relationships with local communities and demonstrate American values and goodwill. The ball is not just a toy and soccer is much more than just a game. By supplying a ball to a child within a developing community, the US government is combating the influence of malign actors who spread and profit from human and narco-trafficking, the illicit weapons trade, terrorism, and inequality throughout South and Central America. Without alternate means of entertainment and cohesion, poor communities have become easy targets for recruitment and exploitation by transnational criminal and terrorist groups.
This project is unique for two other reasons as well. Not only will this effort help the US Government combat nefarious actors in South and Central America, where smuggling and gang-related recruitment is rampant, but it will also bring together project managers from other regions to coordinate the effort – Andy from his normal duties in West Africa and Terrell from Asia. This will also be Spirit of America’s first time working alongside the US Coast Guard. The Coast Guardsmen aboard the USCG FIR volunteered to assist SoA and the US Embassy in Panama with logistical support while on their current float. The USCG FIR sailed from a home station in Oregon, picked up a shipment of 912 soccer balls in San Diego and are delivering them to the Embassy in Panama. This joint effort between the State Department, and SoA proves that through committed relationships, we can bring real change to some of the most impoverished areas of the world.