In 2011-2012, the Peace Center has been promoting peace and understanding through sports, both locally and abroad. In the fall, board member Dr. Lindsey Blom (Assistant Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology) teamed up with Dr. Lawrence Gerstein (Director of the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies and Professor of Counseling Psychology) to offer a "sport for peace" program for 4th and 5th graders at Longfellow Elementary School in Muncie. In January, Dr. Blom and Dr. Gerstein lead a team to Jordan to begin a "Soccer for Peace" exchange program.
As part of this two-year United States State Department's International Sports Programming Initiative (ISPI), teams will travel between Jordan and Ball State to participate in youth soccer clinics that promote citizenship and peaceful living. (Above: Soccer Clinic in Amman, Jordan Left: Project Leaders from left to right, Dr. Edward Curtis, IV, IUPUI; Mr. Charles Wiles, Center for Interfaith Copperation; Dr. Lindsey Blom, BSU; Dr. Lawrence Judge, BSU; Mr. Steven Franklin, Indiana Soccer Association; & Dr. Lawrence Gerstein, BSU).
This project was done in conjunction with Ball State's Sports and Exercise Psychology Program, Center for International Development, Coaching Education Program, and the Sports Administration Program. Pictured below are Jordanian soccer coaches visiting the Peace Center.
The final phase of the project took place in Amman March 13-16 at the Jordan Football Association facilities, in partnership with Leaders of Tomorrow and the Princess Basma Youth Resource Center. A six-person team (the project director (coach and sport psychology expert), 2 soccer coaches, 1 strength and conditioning coach, 1 conflict resolution expert, and a Jordanian consultant) from Indiana offered a 4-day workshop at the Jordan Football Association to approximately 70 coaches and teachers (approximately 26 women) from the surrounding areas of Amman, Madaba, Zarqa, Ajloun, and Jerish.
On Thursday afternoon, approximately 60 boys, ages 8 -15, from the JFA grassroots program attended a 2.5 hour training session where they participated in a circuit of HD and conflict resolution activities that the coaches had previously learned, as well as a nutrition session. The coaches led these activities.
On Friday afternoon, approximately 110 children between the ages of 5 and 16 from schools and clubs in Zarqa, Amman, and Ajloun attended a 2.5 hour training session similar to the previous day and led by the coaches.
About 100 Jordanian athletes from surrounding areas joined the American and Jordanian coaches for workshops on soccer tactics, fitness training, coaching psychology and developing citizenship, leadership, and conflict resolution skills.
The program promoted on-going relations between Jordanian and U.S. youth soccer coaches while offering techniques for teaching young athletes the skills of the sport and how to peacefully interact with people from different cultures. Dr. Lawrence Gerstein is pictured below with a coach from the most recent trip.