U.S. Accomplice Spirit of Soccer Acknowledged for Progressive and Lifesaving Work in Iraq

By: Eric Keefer, Assistant Program Supervisor for Iraq, Bureau of Political-Army Affairs, Workplace of Weapons Removing and Abatement

Spirit of Soccer posters depict landmines and different ERW generally present in Iraq. (Photograph courtesy of Spirit of Soccer)

The non-governmental group Spirit of Soccer makes use of the sport of soccer, or soccer as it’s referred to as in the US, as a medium to show Iraqi youngsters concerning the risks posed by explosive remnants of battle (ERW), in addition to measures that they will take to mitigate the risk posed by these units and tips on how to report explosive hazards to the suitable Iraqi authorities. Spirit of Soccer has been implementing U.S.-funded packages in Iraq for nearly ten years, and in 2017 offered ERW threat training to greater than 40,200 youngsters. As Iraq begins to rebuild from the demise and destruction of ISIS, U.S.-funded packages like this play a important position in conserving Iraqis secure from ISIS’s lethal legacy.

Spirit of Soccer was awarded the Past Sports activities’ Peace and Social Justice Award for its lifesaving efforts in Iraq. Mohammad Naqib, Spirit of Soccer’s nation director, traveled to New York Metropolis to attend the ceremony recognizing Spirit of Soccer’s Countering Violent Extremism mission, a U.S.-funded program in Iraq designed to convey, via the sport of soccer, lifesaving details about the hazards of landmines, unexploded ordnance, and different ERW, in addition to applicable security measures. This system particularly engages younger males — the demographic most definitely to be focused by ISIS and different violent non-state actors for recruitment. By profitable the award, Spirit of Soccer additionally obtained an extra $50,000 which it’ll use to broaden operations in heavily-populated Iraqi cities like Mosul, Ramadi, and Tikrit.

NBA legend, Dikembe Mutumbo, presents the Peace and Social Justice Award to Spirit of Soccer’s Mohammad Naqib. (Photograph courtesy of Spirit of Soccer)

Spirit of Soccer started implementing this mission as a element of its bigger Iraq program in 2016 and has, up to now, reached greater than 6,000 younger males in communities beforehand held by ISIS. By socializing the younger contributors with adults and coaches from completely different mine-affected communities, Spirit of Soccer is combatting the hateful doctrine espoused by ISIS and offering a secure house for communities to heal and share experiences, typically on soccer fields refurbished by the US. In 2017, Spirit of Soccer additionally skilled 33 employees in trauma-sensitive teaching to higher determine and tackle childhood trauma and use soccer to kind private connections with victims struggling psychologically from their publicity to ISIS. With U.S. assist, Spirit of Soccer presently helps 35 coaches implementing threat teaching programs throughout Iraq.

Spirit of Soccer mission beneficiaries take part in a soccer recreation in Al Qosh in Ninewa, Iraq. (Photograph courtesy of Spirit of Soccer)

Spirit of Soccer works exterior of Iraq, as properly. The Division of State presently helps Spirit of Soccer in Iraq, Cambodia, Colombia, and Laos to higher shield communities in areas affected by ERW. Final 12 months, 126,414 folks, together with greater than 83,000 youngsters, from these 4 nations participated in a Spirit of Soccer program and gained a deeper understanding of the threats that landmines, unexploded ordnance, and different ERW pose.

Since 1993, the US has been the world’s main contributor to standard weapons destruction, together with mine threat teaching programs like Spirit of Soccer, offering greater than $3.2 billion to greater than 100 nations. To be taught extra about the US’ international typical weapons destruction efforts, try our annual report, To Stroll the Earth in Security, and comply with us on Twitter @StateDeptPM.

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