KABUL, Afghanistan (January 26, 2012) — A group of senior U.S. coaches and sports administrators will visit Afghanistan in February to conduct training and mentoring for Afghan sports officials as part of a sports diplomacy effort co-sponsored by the International Security Assistance Force and the U.S. Embassy. The exchange is part of an overarching sports diplomacy program designed to help develop community-based sports programs for youth across Afghanistan.
During the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) visit, U.S. coaches and administrators will mentor Afghan coaches and sports federation leaders from across the country in the sports of basketball, soccer, volleyball and taekwondo. In addition to coach-the-coaches mentoring in the four sports, the group will conduct workshops on developing and conducting local youth sports programs, and will work with the Afghan National Olympic Committee in developing a Presidential Fitness Challenge program for Afghan youth.
The visit comes at the invitation of Lieutenant General Zahir Aghbar, head of the Afghan National Olympic Committee. The visit by U.S. coaches was discussed during a U.S. Embassy/ISAF-sponsored trip to the United States in November by a delegation of Afghan sports federation leaders; during that visit, Afghan sports leaders observed sporting events and toured sports facilities across Florida, and also visited the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
The program will result in Afghan men and women coaches earning a basic AAU coaching certification. The program also hopes to link these certified coaches with youth athletes, programs and sports facilities which are being developed by the U.S. Embassy.
The group of AAU sports mentors and coaches will be led by Mr. James Parker, Vice President of Sports Operations for the AAU, and will include Mr. Bob Delaney, retired National Basketball Association referee and current NBA Cares Ambassador; Mr. Matt Williams, Jam on it Basketball Academy CEO and National Co-Chair AAU Girls Basketball; Mr. Adam Ritchie, Technical Director at Maryland Rush Soccer; Mr. Mike Friello, National Sport Chairman for AAU Taekwondo; and Mr. Greg Tubbs, National Head Coach, AAU Taekwondo. In addition to coaching and mentoring, the AAU/NBA group is also donating equipment for coaches in the four sports through the Afghan National Olympic Committee.