Cablegate: Sports Programming Works

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: Sports Programming Works

1. (U) The Bahraini reaction to the highly successful
visit of former Georgetown University Basketball players
Omari Faulkner and Courtland Freeman was summed up by the
Bahrain's National Basketball Team coach: "More sports
programs are needed to foster greater dialogue." The two
Cultural Envoys did a masterful job in engaging with a
young Bahraini audience, GoB Officials, and Bahraini
teachers and coaches by using basketball as a common
language. During their November 29 - December 2 visit to
Bahrain, the Cultural Envoys were hosted by the President
of the Bahrain Basketball Association, who told APAO that
a visit like this is "long overdue and something that
must continue."

2. (U) Mr. Faulkner and Mr. Freeman were a "dream
team" as cultural envoys with natural ability to connect
with others. Among a younger audience they spoke about
the value of sports in building determination, instilling
a spirit of teamwork, and breaking down cultural
barriers. The two visitors led practices with teams of
teenagers at several athletic clubs. At the Muharraq
Club, one of Bahrain's largest sports clubs, the young
players refused to leave the practice hall and pleaded
with their parents to watch them play with their "new
American friends."
3. (U) The cultural envoys discussed their experience
as students and players at a NCAA Division I University
and encouraged Bahrainis to apply for Post's exchange
opportunities to study at universities in the U.S. The
players participated in drills and scrimmages with the
Bahrain National Basketball Team. The coach excitedly
stated, "this is what we aim for, basketball players of
all cultures enjoying a common passion for sports

4. (U) The Cultural Envoys received wide media
coverage. Articles about their events appeared in both
the Arabic and English daily newspapers. One Arabic
newspaper called the visit a new opportunity for cultural
dialogue with sports as the common language. In
addition, a profile of the athletes and their experience
in Bahrain will be featured in the upcoming edition of
Bahrain's "Confidential Magazine." The players also
participated in a live interview with Radio Bahrain,
which targets a young audience.

5. (U) COMMENT: Post strongly encourages more cultural
sports programs. This event was a large success due to
the charisma, professionalism, and interpersonal skills
of Mr. Freeman and Mr. Faulkner and because of the power
of sports to reach beyond cultural and political
barriers. At a time when U.S. policies face challenges,
the common interest in the ideals of teamwork,
dedication, and sacrifice involved in athletics and the
"appreciation for the game" offers a common ground. The
principal of a secondary school told the PAO, "these are
the types of programs that can rebuild what terrorism has
tried to destroy." END COMMENT.


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