Eswatini – The week-long sports envoy program organized by the U.S. Embassy in Eswatini concluded with an exciting soccer tournament held at the Eswatini Football Association Technical Center. The tournament featured 10 all-girl soccer teams from different communities, schools, and tertiary institutions across the country.
The 150 participating girls formed new teams, each named after a U.S. state such as Texas, Wisconsin, Michigan, and more. While Michigan F.C. emerged as the champions and lifted the Sports Envoy Trophy, every girl was recognized as a winner and received medals and a soccer ball.
During the medal presentation, Chargé d’ Affaires Earl Miller, alongside 12 girls, highlighted the program’s impact. He emphasized the importance of promoting girls’ engagement in soccer, building confidence, and developing leadership skills. Miller urged the government to support more programs and create stronger pathways for young women to access soccer from an early age, similar to opportunities provided to boys. This support, he noted, would ensure the success and future of girls’ soccer in Eswatini.
Minister of Sports, Youth, and Culture Harris Madze Bulunga echoed the sentiment, emphasizing the need to nurture the seed of progress planted by the sports envoy program.
Chargé Miller commended the Eswatini Football Association, Peace Corps Eswatini Volunteers, and the Ministry of Education and Training for their collaboration in facilitating the program. He also encouraged young women to make their voices heard by participating in the upcoming national elections, as it is time to provide equal access to soccer for both boys and girls.
Deputy Chief of Mission Caitlin Piper, speaking at a press conference, highlighted the busy engagement of the two American Sports Envoys, Zola Solamente and Will John, with young people in various communities. The envoys conducted soccer clinics and interacted with students from tertiary institutions, receiving warm receptions.
In partnership with the Eswatini Football Association, the envoys held soccer clinics with coaches and girls from 12 schools at the EFA Technical Center. Their focus was on empowering girls and young women, promoting confidence, physical fitness, and mental well-being through soccer.
DCM Piper announced the culminating event of the program, a sports tournament taking place on Saturday at the EFA sport grounds. Ten all-girls soccer teams, named after U.S. states, will compete for the title of U.S. Embassy Sports Envoy Team of the Year.
The success of the sports envoy program was made possible through the support of the Sports Diplomacy division of the U.S. Department of State. Everyone is invited to come and cheer for the girls in this exciting event.