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Joanne Wagner

US CG Joanne Wagner welcomes ‘Sports Envoys’ (Video and Text)

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  • Post last modified:23/08/2018
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KARACHI: US Consul General’s Official Residence at FJR was the venue where newly arrived CG Joanne Wagner welcomed Sports Envoys* from the USA: Lorrie Fair, and  Tony Sanneh. 

Addressing the ladies and gentlemen in the audience Joanne Wagner said: 

Thank you all very very much! Assalam-Alaikum and khush amdeed! Good evening everyone and welcome to this beautiful and historical residence. Aap ko khush amdeed kahti hoon. Mairay aur mairay sathiyon ki taraf say aapka shukriya kay aap nay izzat bakshee.

Thank you so much. I am absolutely delighted to be here tonight to introduce to you our incredible Sports Envoys from the United States: Tony Sanneh and Lorrie Fair Allen.

I would particularly like to thank Miss Jawaria Awan, she is an alumnus of the US-funded community colleges initiative program and she has been our partner in helping to carry out this exciting program. I know everyone appreciates your work here…

We’re so lucky to have our Sports Envoys (Lorrie Fair and  Tony Sanneh) here this weekend…Let me tell you a little bit about them. Tony Sanneh played for the US Men’s Soccer Team. His playing was so impressive that he was inducted into the US Amateur Soccer Association Hall of Fame.

And Lorrie Fair Allen played for the United States National Women’s Team. She is a 3-time Olympian and (one time) World Champion.

When I was growing up in Saint Missouri in the US…at that time soccer was the sport for little boys to play. Girls came a little bit later but it became the premier league sport in my city.

Okay! Well, we all loved the Saint Louis Cardinal’s Baseball Team. But for grade school and high school players, soccer was the game to play, and for a while, Saint Louis was a primary source for college and even professional players in the US.

My tiny little … Quintin University in Queensland, Illinois – which no one has ever heard of – won multiple national championships in the 1970’s and 80’s.

So it’s particularly exciting to have you here as part of the State Department’s Sports Program…Since 2006 US soccer players, coaches, administrators (in partnership with the State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs) have visited about 20 countries around the world conducting soccer clinics for thousands of boys, girls, and coaches. But there is so much more to this program then just helping train the world’s soccer players.

The US is committed to sports diplomacy and our envoys dedicate their time, their expertise and their hearts to do very important things:  To teach about leadership, to teach about teamwork, to build confidence and resilience even when losing and to help keep kids and adults active and healthy.

Because that’s what sports do…sports are about so much more than who wins a game (although winning is really nice)…it is about leadership, personal leadership, how can you do your very best. It’s about group leadership, how can you inspire others to do their very best.

But even when you are a leader, even when you play sports like soccer or hockey or basketball or baseball or softball or cricket, you also must be part of the team. A sports team needs your individual performance, your best…but it also needs you to learn to share, to co-operate with others, to make decisions that are for the best of the team. The soccer star who passes the ball to the teammate, who’s positioned just right, shows leadership and teamwork.

There was a movie made quite a few years ago about a group of American hockey players who went to the Olympics. I’m sorry it wasn’t a soccer story but it’s about a group of hockey players. They weren’t a team, they thought of themselves as separate athletes. A bunch of individuals. They were just coming together for the Olympics.

Well, I’ll tell you some more…it’s about a movie…where the coach saw something in these individual players and thought it was possible to make a team out of this group of individuals and they did it. They became a team and they became a team responsible for creating what has been called the miracle on ice. It was the US hockey team during the Olympics…?

We may not all be able to play in the Olympics or in a World Championship team or be in the hall of fame but we all can find ways to be both leaders and team players and teach our younger halves to do the same.

We have our eyewitness here…2 stars who know about leadership and who know about teamwork. They have played with teams that have believed in each other. And who worked as hard as they possibly could and they came home champions.

But sports teaches how to lose as well… Even when you do your very best you can still be disappointed with the outcome…But that’s ok, it happens! It happens in life. So the lesson here is to pick yourself up and analyze what went wrong and try again and that’s something else we need to teach our young people.

So the soccer clinics that Lorrie and Tony are going to be conducting including (we are very excited about this)…group of special Olympians from Pakistan! They are pulling the people together around the love of the sport. It has a marvelous unifying effect.

So the overall program here in Pakistan is part of the US Department of State: to empower women and girls through sports’ initiative….which works to promote sports opportunities for women and girls throughout the world while promoting gender equality. And very importantly, sending women and girls the empowering message “of course you can do this and you’re going to love it”. We’re grateful to also have these wonderful partners in this effort.

(By the way…this event is taking place at the same time as the FIFA World Cup!… I don’t know if your team is still in it, but good luck to you!)

Sports! It is one of the ties that bind the world together! …The chance to connect with people across so many different cultures and share our love and our passion for the sport. It’s a wonderful gift and we hope through this program in some small way we can make a difference in people’s lives.

I know that our Sports Envoys have definitely made big differences in people’s lives. And I know that all our sportsmen and women out there, and those who work with them, have done the same. Fantastic! congratulations to you all! Thank you so much for coming tonight, shukriya!

Speaking on the occasion Sports Envoy Lorrie Fair said: I am a United States national team women’s soccer player – retired. And I’m here with the Sports Envoy Program. It is a program sponsored by the US Embassy and it is bringing people together through the sport of soccer.  I’ve been here in Islamabad and Karachi teaching young footballers…a little bit about football. But more so it’s about building the relationship and bridging the divide between our communities.

The youth of Pakistan are incredibly resilient. They are fearless; they love Social Media; they love to dance… they… be given an opportunity to play because whether they’re girls or boys, whether they have disabilities or not they all love football and would love more opportunities to play…We found them incredibly courageous, full of energy and very quick learners.

The (Pakistani) food is wonderful; the people are extremely hospitable. We’ve been learning some (Urdu) words… and I have to say I hope to be back because I really have enjoyed my time in Pakistan.

Sports Envoy Tony Sanneh stated: I’m a former member of the US national team. Played in the 2002 World Cup… I’m here representing the Sports Envoy Program through the State Department and it’s been a pleasure. We’re having an incredible time here with the kids…the kids are just smiles and smiles and smiles… .

The Sports Envoy Program uses sports to make a cultural connection and teach a little bit about the values that we have in America…and uses sport to promote mutual learning, understanding, and development. My experience in Karachi has been great! I gotta tell you, I ate too much food here it’s been awesome! The people here are awesome… it’s a little bit hot but overall…I’m having the time of my life.


*Sports Envoys are athletes and coaches who travel overseas to lead programs that were developed by U.S. embassies and consulates. These American coaches and athletes hold sports clinics for young people and their coaches, participate in community outreach activities, and engage youth in a dialogue on the importance of leadership and respect for diversity. Sports Diplomacy manages the Sports Envoy programs, working in cooperation with the U.S. Olympic Committee, U.S. sports federations, and professional leagues.


KARACHI: Newly arrived Consul General of USA Joanne Wagner was presented a volume comprising reports of over 100 US diplomatic events covered by NPTV (official partner BBCNEWS). 


Relevant pieces published earlier: 

M M Alam

M. M. Alam is a Pakistan-based working journalist since 1981. Karachi University faculty gold medalist Alam began his career four decades ago by writing for Dawn, Pakistan’s highest circulating English daily. He has worked for region’s leading publications, global aviation periodicals including Rotors (of USA) and vetted New York Times as permanent employee of daily Express Tribune. Alam regularly covers international aviation and defense-related events including Salon Du Bourget (France), Farnborough (United Kingdom), Dubai (UAE). Alam has reported thousands of events and interviewed hundreds of people in Pakistan, UAE, EU, UK and USA. Being Francophone Alam also coordinates with a number of French publications.