Thank you ITD for creating this project that gave me the opportunity to get out of my comfort zone, [to] get on my first plane, and to form so many incredibly strong bonds that I know will last a lifetime.
Norway Youth Leadership participant
Soccer for Girls in Kosovo

In 2012-2013 ITD conducted an International Sports Programming Initiative to promote soccer for Kosovar girls ages 7-15, and to improve coaching of these girls on a large scale.  This project was funded by SportsUnited, a division of the Bureau for Educational and Cultural Affairs, of the U.S. Department of State, and supported by the U.S. Embassy in Kosovo.  ITD collaborated on the grant with CCPA, a Kosovo non-profit sports organization, and with the Kosovo Department of Sport.  Our US partner on the project is Mount Holyoke College's Soccer Program.

In the first of the program's three phases a cohort of twelve young Kosovar women players came to the US, escorted by Aferdita Fazliu of the Department of Sports, and Visar Peja of CPPA.  Ms. Fazliu is also the national women's team head coach.

The three-week US program was based in Amherst and South Hadley, MA.   Participants learned and practiced coaching skills with MHC student athletes, studied sport pedagogy, learned to articulate the benefits sports bring to girls, and developed action plan projects to promote soccer for girls after returning home.  They also enjoyed cultural activities and befriended MHC students.

The second phase consisted of a group of seven MHC players and coaches traveling to Kosovo for two weeks.  The American participants learned about the history of Kosovo and the Balkans, took in presentations by the Kosovar alumnae on their action plan implementation, went on site visits to alumnae communities and to soccer camps, took part in a soccer clinic for young girls, and attended sporting and cultural events.

In Phase Three, two Kosovar alumnae were invited back to Massachusetts as Assistant Coaches for the MHC soccer team's 2013 season.  Their program also included MHC Athletic Department internships and attending classes  at Smith College's Exercise and Sports Studies program and with the National Soccer Coaches Association of America.  In addition they met and played with the New York Magic, a US premier women's soccer team.