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Sporting Diplomacy: Harnessing the Power of Play for Social Change

Updated: 2 days ago





June 8, 2024



Ahead of the friendly soccer match between Colombia and the U.S. and the upcoming Copa America, the Embassy of Colombia in Washington hosted the panel discussion event "Inclusive Play: Sport as a Catalyst for Social Change" to explore sports' profound impact on society and its potential to foster social development, inclusivity, and international collaboration.


Daniel Avila, Chargé d'Affaires, highlighted the universal appeal of sports. "Sports have an unparalleled capacity to unite people from diverse backgrounds. They serve as a universal language, breaking down barriers and fostering dialogue and understanding,"


Sharing Colombia's experiences, Mr. Avila illustrated how sports have been a powerful tool for reconciliation and social inclusion. "In Colombia, sports have paved the way for reconciliation and social inclusion. From urban centres to rural areas, sports programmes engage our youth, foster a sense of belonging, and provide opportunities for personal and community growth."


Ambassador Kevin K. Sullivan, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Brazil, Southern Cone, and Andean Affairs in the Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs at the State Department, echoed these sentiments. "Today, we celebrate our nations' shared values and mutual respect."


Dr. Ashleigh Huffman, Vice President of Global Engagement at the Institute for Sport and Social Justice, moderated the panel discussion joined by:


• Dr. Damion Thomas, PhD, Sports Curator at the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture

• Eren Munir, Operations Manager at the US Soccer Foundation

• Gonzalo Gomez, Program Director at Fundación Buen Punto

• Gustavo Lugo, Founder and Executive Director of the Fundación Deportiva del Pacífico Sur (FUNDEPACS) and former professional Colombian football player


The panellists covered a range of topics, including:

• Innovative sports programmes, sharing personal experiences and case studies, and discussing potential opportunities and best practices.

• Promoting inclusion and diversity in sports.

• Raising awareness among the public and policymakers about the importance of sports in social development.






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