Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #182

Sept. 20 – Sept. 26, 2015

Welcome to week one hundred eighty-two of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. Remembering the great American life of Yankees legend Yogi Berra
  2. Cricket: From bombs to trophies, cricket thrives in Pakistan’s Peshawar
  3. Syrian Refugee Tripped by Camerawoman to Arrive in Spain to Work as Soccer Coach
  4. GOALS Haiti Improves Lives, Fights Climate Change
  5. How A Terrifying Crash Turned Alana Nichols Into A Really Good Surfer
  6. University of Michigan’s Darboh finishes long journey to U.S. citizenship
  7. World Indoor Lacrosse Championship Returns To Its Indigenous Roots
  8. Teen Migrants Get Second Chance in Life and Blessing From Pope
  9. Moses Malone Was Easy to Overlook but Undeniably Great
  10. Leaders in Sport and Development Set to Convene in the Face of the Refugee Crisis

There was a lot of excitement building over the past two weeks with the Pope’s pending trip to the United States, especially in the cities he was planning to visit – Washington, DC, New York, and Philadelphia. Much of it had to do with the personality of this leader, one that speaks of inclusiveness, empathy, and help for those in need. His words were especially poignant in the face of the major migrant crisis unfolding in the Middle East and Europe. Actually, all parts of the world are being impacted in some way and with such a multifaceted issue, a multi-pronged solution will be needed.

To help come up with a strategy and plan to help, leaders from the world of sport will take up this issue in October during the Beyond Sport Summit in London. Beyond Sport events are times when powerful ideas are discussed and developed and we anticipate that we will see some more ideas – big and small – at the event in London. Some guidance can come by taking a look at one story this week involving a soccer program targeting migrant children and how that program is helping them to find a sense of belonging and direction in lives that have already been witness to significant upheaval.

Other stories that we are happy to feature this week include: a look at the incredible life of one of the most iconic figures in baseball and American history, Yogi Berra, who passed away this week; how a region of Pakistan often dealing with significant violence is finding a way to turn things around and seeing the national sport of cricket flourish as a result; how a man from Syria, along with his family, is being invited to build a new life in Spain as a soccer coach; the powerful impact GOALS Haiti continues to have in a region with great needs; the incredible resolve and focus of Paralympic champion Alana Nichols; the journey of University of Michigan student-athlete Amara Darboh to becoming a U.S. citizen; the World Indoor Lacrosse Championships; and a look at the career of NBA legend Moses Malone, who passed away this week.

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Remembering the great American life of Yankees legend Yogi Berra
“Yogi Berra,” Brown once said, “is a national treasure, and the world needs more just like him. Every time I see him, I feel a little better about the human race.” At the time of his death, Berra might have been as popular and cherished as ever, an astounding testament to the generous soul of a man who played his last big-league game as a player-coach for the Mets in 1965. He starred in television commercials that ran for years, especially with the Aflac insurance duck, and, between 1997 and 2009, wrote or co-wrote eight books, and established the Yogi Berra Museum and Learning Center in Montclair in ’98. But he was so beloved even more because he was a God-fearing man who knew humility was a virtue, not a weakness, who wrote love letters to Carmen from the road, who into his advanced years still carried in his wallet a picture of his parents, who never spoke ill of others, who lacked the gifts of extraordinary physical size, appearance and skills but owned the rare one of the ability to laugh at himself. In short, Yogi was the real deal, the genuine goods.

Cricket: From bombs to trophies, cricket thrives in Pakistan’s Peshawar
Lahore and Karachi have been the country’s traditional bases of cricketing power, with smaller towns and cities in prosperous Punjab province also supplying the national side in recent years. Now, it appears Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province — home to ethnic Pashtuns who are celebrated for their bravery and prowess in battle — is flourishing. Peshawar coach Abdul Rehman admitted cricket success came after action against militancy. “It was tough to bring kids to the cricket grounds with bombs going on,” Rehman told AFP. “Parents were scared of sending their kids, but since the military operation cricket has flourished in KPK in general and Peshawar in particular.” Peshawar players match the cavalier approach of the fast-rising Afghanistan team, some of whom also learned the game in refugee camps around the city. Peshawar’s never-say-die approach was the highlight of the tournament as they successfully chased stiff targets in four of the their five group matches and beat six-time champions Sialkot in semis — also batting second. Rehman said bravery typifies Pashtuns, the inhabitants of the province.

Syrian Refugee Tripped by Camerawoman to Arrive in Spain to Work as Soccer Coach
When Mohsen arrived in Germany, media reports emerged that he had been a soccer coach in Syria. Moved by the story, the president of CENAFE, a private Spanish soccer coaching school, decided he wanted to help them. Now settled in his new home, Mohsen spoke about life in Syria saying it was “very, very difficult for anything, for life, for work, for sleep, for anything. War, war, war and everywhere you see dead’. He lived in Turkey one year, Osama said in an interview with Spanish television TVE, before embarking on his journey. “Thank you to everyone in Spain who has shown solidarity with Osama and his son Zaid,” the school Tweeted, adding that Osama Abdul Mohsen and his 7-year-old son Zaid will be arriving later this evening. Miguel Angel Galan, president of the school, called the Spanish newspaper El Mundo to ask one of their reporters to help them locate the father and son. Once they were put in touch by phone, Galan offered Mohsen to train in Spain. In a written statement, the school notes that they offered to cover his travels and pay for his housing in Getafe, a suburb of Madrid as well as paying for their maintenance until Osama would be able to find a job.

GOALS Haiti Improves Lives, Fights Climate Change
Starting with 100 kids in a single village in 2010, the program has grown to serve 400 youngsters in 4 villages. They do so through the prism of making it possible for them to play soccer. Which might not sound like much but, in the Leogane, post-earthquake, it takes a Herculean effort. Fighting the ravages of environmental degradation, impacted at least in part by climate change, is a key part of that heavy lift. As Ms. Hackett put it, “climate change is having a direct effect. Due to rampant deforestation, there’s a lack of topsoil. So when the rains come, flooding results in most of the areas in which GOALS Haiti operates, including on the soccer fields. That means the kids have to repair our fields before they can play.” And the fields also need to be cleaned of trash, including bottles and food scraps—which the kids handle, under the direction of the coaches and with the help of a local organization that recycles bottles. “Recycling is one of the more popular activities for our kids and coaches,” says Hackett, “you can’t play, and fans can’t watch, if the field is full of trash.” Last year, GOALS kids collected 3,700+ plastic bottles to be recycled. And, compost piles dot the landscape as well, so coaches and kids learn what waste goes where.

GOALS Haiti coach teaching soccer–and important life lessons–to girls in the Leogane. (Photo credit: GOALS Haiti)

How A Terrifying Crash Turned Alana Nichols Into A Really Good Surfer
She sees the ISA event as a springboard for a larger movement to bring awareness of challenged athletes around the world. ISA president Fernando Aguerre echoes the sentiment. “The amount of facilities and resources that we have in the U.S. for adaptive athletes in particular [and] for people with disabilities in general is uncommon. My hope is that for the vast majority of the people in the world that have physical limitations, I want to inspire them and let them know you can go to the ocean. You can do a lot of these things,” he says. It’s a message that also resonates with Carissa Moore, a two-time women’s surfing world champion and current top-ranked surfer on the Women’s Championship Tour. Moore and Nichols met at a photo shoot for Nike last year, just as Nichols was learning to surf. The two immediately bonded. “When I met Alana, I heard about her getting into her snowboarding accident. I’d like to think inside all of us, there’s that athlete and that competitive drive that would be like, ‘Hey, I’m gonna pick myself back up and do something else,'” Moore says. “But just to see how Alana has done it with such a positive attitude and how she’s embraced everything, it’s truly awesome.”

Three-time Paralympic gold medalist Alana Nichols will compete in her new sport, at the first-ever World Adaptive Surfing Championship, starting on Friday. Robert Beck

University of Michigan’s Darboh finishes long journey to U.S. citizenship
“Amara Darboh, Sierra Leone.” With that, he rose, took those steps and received his certificate of naturalization, becoming a United States citizen. Wearing a black suit, black tie with a clip and red shirt, he held a small American flag in his hand, grinning for a photo. Then he returned to his seat, thoughts filling his head. “Grateful, just grateful,” Darboh, a 21-year-old wide receiver, told the Free Press. “Grateful for where I came from. How grateful my family was.” The naturalization ceremony was for fewer than 100 people from at least 17 countries, but the room was bursting with nearly 200, with friends and family of all ages. From the smallest children, wailing in strollers, to 99-year-old Asho Shamoon, it was a life-changing ceremony that lasted just over a half-hour. Darboh arrived with U-M photographer David Turnley who is documenting the football program this year, and Zach Eisendrath, Michigan football’s director of internal communications and operations for the head coach.

Michigan wide receiver Amara Darboh, left, becomes a U.S. citizen Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in Detroit. (Photo: Courtesy of David Turnley U-M)

World Indoor Lacrosse Championship Returns To Its Indigenous Roots
Lacrosse, a sport often associated with elite prep schools, actually originated among the people of the Iroquois Confederacy, who call themselves the Haudenosaunee, which means the “people of the longhouse.” The Haudenosaunee are comprised of six nations: the Mohawk, Oneida, Cayuga, Seneca, Tuscarora and Onondaga, with reservations located in New York, Wisconsin and Oklahoma, as well as the Canadian provinces of Québec and Ontario. The Haudenosaunee have been playing lacrosse, which they consider the creator’s game, for centuries. “We invented this game, our people brought to us this game, played for centuries around this, our Haudenosaunee lands,” Tadodaho (Onondaga Chief) Sid Hill told The Huffington Post. “You come into the world and they put a stick in your hand, and when we go out, there will be a stick in our hand.” Opening ceremonies for the tournament before the Iroquois-USA match featured traditional Haudenosaunee singing and dancing, as well as a re-enactment of the Haudenosaunee creation story and the origins of lacrosse.

Jeremy Thompson of the Iroquois Nationals takes the faceoff against Team USA’s CJ Costabile. Marielle Olentine | The Huffington Post

Teen Migrants Get Second Chance in Life and Blessing From Pope
Girón and Martínez share their passion for soccer in New York City with another 38 unaccompanied minors who are members of the soccer league. With the influx of teen migrants, South Bronx United and Catholic Charities of New York launched a youth soccer league for them. “The kids where asking me is if there was some type of soccer program where they could go and play soccer with children that are going through the same process of immigration proceedings,” said García. Elvis García, 25, is league’s coach and also acts as their legal immigration counselor at the Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York. “Sometimes the work we do can be very difficult. You hear some of the stories that are heartbreaking. Children that have to leave their country because of violence, because of poverty and they don’t know what is going on,” García said. “I feel like we are family because no one is going to come here and offend us because we are all together,” said Martínez.

Teen Migrants Get Second Chance in Life and Blessing From Pope. Angel Canales/ABC News

Moses Malone Was Easy to Overlook but Undeniably Great
Affiliated with 10 pro franchises over 21 years, Malone knew a few people. Like many others, Harris had seen Malone — the person he most credits for his long head-coaching career — at the recent Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Springfield, Mass. Less than 48 hours later, Harris received a phone call from Kevin Vergara with the news that Vergara had found Malone’s body in a Norfolk hotel room after his longtime friend had not shown up for breakfast before a golf outing. Malone was wearing a heart monitor, having seen a doctor in Houston, where he lived, after experiencing a skipped beat during a workout. “Nobody knew, but that was Moses,” Harris said. “He took care of business, took care of himself.” If Malone was celebrated for anything, it was as the ultimate inside operator, the definitive clock puncher. Williams recalled the 76ers’ 1983 championship parade turning onto a packed Broad Street in Philadelphia, and a dozen or so blue-collar guys holding up their hard hats in tribute when Malone’s float passed. “That, to me, summed up Moses,” Williams said.

Moses Malone, center, won three Most Valuable Player Awards, and helped the Philadelphia 76ers win the 1983 N.B.A. title. Rusty Kennedy/Associated Press

Leaders in Sport and Development Set to Convene in the Face of the Refugee Crisis
In the midst of one of the largest global humanitarian crises in history in which conflicts in several countries have affected 230 million children over the last few years, major stakeholders in sport are uniting with the development community to identify how sport can be better used to support the millions of refugees and displaced people being forced to flee their homes across the world. Beyond Sport, the global convener around sport and social change, will launch the first-ever Refugee Sport Initiative at its annual global Summit on 21st October. With the support of DFID, UNICEF and other major contributors the initiative will gather decision-makers from development and inter-governmental entities, businesses, sports clubs and governing bodies, and grassroots organisations working with refugees and displaced people to assess, recommend, and commit to taking action through sport in camps for refugees and internally displaced people.

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