UM’s Mansfield Center seeks Montana adults, youth for Peruvian soccer exchange

The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Center at the University of Montana is seeking 18 adults and students to serve as citizen ambassadors to Peru in a U.S. Department of State sports diplomacy program focusing on soccer.

The program entails an all-expenses-paid, seven-day exchange to Peru next May, along with the opportunity to work with Peruvian soccer professionals during a reciprocal exchange in Montana in July.

Funded by the Sports Diplomacy division of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, the exchange uses soccer to empower women and girls in Peru.

“Sports can be an incredible way to develop confidence, discipline, leadership and becoming a part of a larger community,” said Kelsey Stamm Jimenez, the Mansfield Center program director. “Women and girls, especially indigenous people and those with disabilities, can be isolated and face barriers toward engaging in social life. Our program is designed to give coaches and players the skills not just to improve soccer abilities, but to empower their teams and help them succeed both on and off the field.”

The Mansfield Center was selected to implement the program due to its expertise in sports and youth, both areas of emphasis in Montana and at UM. The first of four exchanges was held in El Salvador, with a focus on engaging at-risk youth through basketball.

The International Sports Programming Initiative cooperative agreement is one of six State Department grants currently run by the Mansfield Center to benefit the community and state.

“Federally funded opportunities like the Sports Diplomacy exchange allow us to fulfill the Mansfield Center’s mandate to engage people from across our state in international experiences,” said Deena Mansour, the Mansfield Center’s associate director.

Applications for the soccer exchange are open through Tuesday, Jan 1. Those interested in applying should follow this link or contact Stamm Jimenez at kelsey.stamm@umontana.edu or 406-243-2838.