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Cablegate: Sports Envoy Barry Larkin Promotes Education Through

VZCZCXRO5104
PP RUEHAO RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHGR RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHMT RUEHNG
RUEHNL RUEHQU RUEHRD RUEHRG RUEHRS RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHBO #4175/01 3242024
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 192024Z NOV 08
FM AMEMBASSY BOGOTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 5649
RUEHCV/AMEMBASSY CARACAS 1340
RUEHWH/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BOGOTA 004175

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR ECA/PE/CE (DAVIS/BISHOP); WHA/PD (DICKSON/SAMSON)
CARACAS FOR PAO

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO KJRE OEXC VE CO JO LE IS
SUBJECT: SPORTS ENVOY BARRY LARKIN PROMOTES EDUCATION THROUGH
BASEBALL

REF: BOGOTA 4158

1. (U) SUMMARY: Retired Major League Baseball great Barry Larkin
visited Bogota, Cartagena, and Barranquilla from November 5th to
12th, 2008 as part of the Sports Diplomacy Program. Joined by three
other Sports Envoys - Steve Laska, Joe Logan, and Matt Krause,
Larkin participated in seventeen events conducting baseball clinics
and speaking to students on the importance of education, teamwork,
hard work, and perseverance. Ambassador Brownfield participated in
numerous events, increasing the press interest during Larkin's
visit. This program supported a key mission goal of reaching out to
younger non-traditional audiences and Afro-Colombians and generated
significant positive press coverage. END SUMMARY.

2. (U) Former Olympian Barry Larkin played shortstop for the
Cincinnati Reds for nineteen seasons from 1986 to 2004 and was one
of the pivotal players on the 1990 World Series championship team.
Currently, Larkin is a Special Assistant to the General Manager of
the Washington Nationals and has visited several countries under the
auspices of Major League Baseball. Three other Sports Envoys, Steve
Laska, Joe Logan, and Matt Krause, assisted in the baseball clinics
by providing coaching expertise in pitching, baseball conditioning,
and batting.

3. (U) During Larkin's visit to Colombia, the Ambassador
participated in numerous events - opening several clinics, hosting a
reception, attending a lunch, and playing in (and winning) a
baseball game with him. On November 6, 2008, the Ambassador
attended the opening of the first baseball clinic in Bogota and then
hosted a reception for Barry Larkin at his residence. Numerous
sports figures, federation representatives, government officials,
and press attended the reception. On November 7, Larkin and the
Ambassador led a baseball game between two groups of children from
the Fundacion Nios del Papel in Cartagena, a local non-governmental
social assistance organization, as part of an anti-narcotics event
(reftel). Before the game began, the children received baseball
bats, gloves, balls, and t-shirts donated by "Pitch In for Baseball"
and Major League Baseball in the United States. On November 8, the
Ambassador participated in the coaches' clinic, a press conference,
and a lunch in honor of Larkin in Barranquilla.

4. (U) Larkin participated in 17 events, conducting seven baseball
clinics for over 700 children and coaches and speaking to 620
students in low-income schools. Throughout the clinics and school
visits, Larkin emphasized the importance of education, team work,
hard work, and perseverance and said numerous times "You cannot be
successful in sports unless you study hard and educate yourself."

5. (U) In addition to leveraging Larkin's visit to support
anti-narcotics efforts during the Ambassadorial baseball game,
Larkin also helped the Embassy promote the development of the
Colombian Professional Baseball League and a more robust Little
League program. On November 8, Larkin attended a professional game
between the Caimanes of Barranquilla and the Leones of Monteria. He
presented Sports United t-shirts to 25 underprivileged children and
then threw out the first pitch of the game to the Mayor of
Barranquilla, Alejandro Char. On November 10, the Sports Envoys
attended a lunch with Little League officials and then gave a
baseball clinic for the Falcon Little League, composed primarily of
underprivileged children from Cartagena.

6. (U) Larkin's visit received extensive coverage from regional and
national press. Speaking primarily in Spanish, with some
interpretative assistance, Larkin shared his experiences as a young
boy and as a professional player where he learned Spanish in order
to communicate with his Hispanic teammates. Embassy Bogota filmed
several events and produced an informative "Newsfile" segment which
was distributed to local television stations throughout Colombia.
Approximately 35 to 40 positive stories were written or aired about
his week-long visit. After the first day of the visit, the headline
in the widely read regional paper El Universal proclaimed "Barry
Larkin - a Gentleman and a Teacher."

7. (U) From this visit, Embassy Bogota identified a number of best
practices which should be replicated in future sports diplomacy
events. The Embassy gave t-shirts that said "Sports United" to all
of the coaches and children in the baseball clinics as well as
signed pictures of Barry with the caption "Sports Ambassador, U.S.
Department of State, Barry Larkin." At the end of several clinics,
PAS representatives distributed these pictures to participants so
that Barry could depart without being mobbed for additional demands
for autographs. This was an extremely useful crowd control tool at
times and allowed Barry to leave the event in a timely and graceful
manner. At each clinic, the Embassy was fortunate to have local
sponsors which provided the children and coaches with beverages and
snacks. PAS also realized the value of having an advance team
arrive several hours before each clinic to work with the local
organizers on setting up the complicated logistics for each event.

BOGOTA 00004175 002 OF 002

BROWNFIELD

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