The United States hosts the largest number of international migrants of any other country and is also home to millions of hyphenated Americans who trace their immediate lineages to every corner of the world. One binding and common trait among these diverse communities is the passion and love they share for sports, particularly soccer. As seen by the fervor created around the World Cup every four years, soccer has the ability to activate communities across all countries and on a global scale.
Increasingly, diaspora communities are forming sports leagues and federations in their adopted country in order to create a space for cultural exchanges and for community outreach. Beyond sport and socializing, these leagues provide a networking platform to engage and give back to their countries of origin. The international development community can channel this interest and energy by engaging diaspora communities in promoting the role of sports in sustainable community development, particularly to support recovery, reconstruction, and resilience efforts.
Conceived under the International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA) framework, Diasporta is an innovative partnership campaign that is designed to engage ethnic sports leagues and sports companies, foundations, and media outlets in a collaborative process to tackle development challenges related to community development and recovery using sports in the developing world. Diasporta aims to inspire and mobilize global diasporas in an effort to help rebuild communities by supporting infrastructure projects and community programs that engage sports as a platform. Partners will identify opportunities to support sporting venues, organizations, and programs that serve as stable centerpieces for communities struggling/recovering from the impacts of natural disasters, conflicts, or economic difficulties. There will be a special focus on youth, a vulnerable population, with significant potential to harness youths’ creativity and develop the base of a country’s productive human capital. Diasporta will mobilize diaspora communities and partners to channel resources towards the realization of these sporting initiatives, which will have profound impacts for the community and their ability to flourish and cultivate their love of sports.
2013 Program Centerpiece: Phoenix Soccer Stadium, Cite Soleil, Haiti
Launched as a Clinton Global Initiative 2012 commitment by Delos Living and L’Athletique D’Haiti (LADH), Project Phoenix is a non-profit organization that is building a soccer stadium in Cite Soleil, a commune in Port-au-Prince that is declared a Red Zone by the United Nations.
Phoenix Stadium will be a 12,000-seat professional soccer stadium, designed by world-renowned architect Carlos Zapata, to be built from the rubble of the 2010 earthquake. In addition to the stadium, the grounds will house LADH, a youth development program that provides underprivileged participants with a safe, clean, supportive environment where they can learn the discipline of sports and the structure of teamwork. The sustainable community will also house a soccer academy, an elementary and middle school, and dormitories, and it will be landscaped with edible gardens, a small lake containing tilapia and a composting and recycling plant. In addition to enabling Haiti’s first professional soccer league and multiple community programs, the construction of Phoenix Stadium will create opportunities for employment, training, and competition, as well as mentor local talent, giving new life and promise to a community hit hard by the 2010 earthquake.
Phoenix Stadium is the perfect pilot for Diasporta. Project Phoenix has an established online donation platform and is already building a foundation for public-private partnerships around the initiative. Diasporta can engage in several ways:
- Provide a platform for a global awareness campaign and action. Diasporta can deliver action-ready partners and rally global diasporas, including mobilizing ethnic soccer leagues to the cause of Phoenix, turning tournaments into opportunities for engagement, and providing additional platforms for giving such as text donations. Efforts will raise the profile of diaspora engagement and cultivate philanthropy towards distinct projects.
- Support and enhance opportunities for youth. Diasporta could provide a global mentorship (ie. big brother/big sister) program, bridging diaspora communities, to support LADH’s goal of developing Haitian youth through sport. Diasporta partners can further connect diasporans with local leagues in their home countries by facilitating exchanges. Partners can also offer internship or apprenticeship experience to help youth further develop their skills and prepare them for the workforce.
- Develop a network for professional development. Phoenix has taken a sister-sponsor approach to development of the stadium, with a U.S. and Haitian partner working together for every job function related to the stadium’s construction. Diasporta could enhance that effort dramatically by bringing additional partner-mentors to the table, and replicating this model in future projects.
Diasporta is made possible by a consortium of synergetic private, public, and civil society institutions that are committed to utilize the convening power of sports to tackle global challenges. The founding members of the Diasporta partnership are International diaspora Engagement Alliance (IdEA), Univision, and Project Phoenix.
If you are interested in supporting Diasporta’s efforts, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.