Indiana Soccer teams up with Ball State University to teach citizenship and peaceful living skills
Ball State University, in collaboration with Indiana Soccer, received a two-year grant from the United States State Department’s International Sports Programming Initiative (ISPI) to support Soccer for Peace and Understanding in Jordan. Through the project, Ball State University and Indiana Soccer partnered with Leaders of Tomorrow, Jordan Football Association and Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre to teach citizenship and peaceful living skills through soccer clinics for youth coaches and athletes.
The program aims to promote empathetic on-going relations between Jordanian and U.S. youth soccer coaches, encourage youth soccer coaches’ effective citizenship behaviors with young athletes through soccer, advance Jordanians and U.S. youth soccer coaches’ knowledge about the technical aspects of coaching soccer effectively, and increase Jordanian and U.S. youth soccer players’ soccer skills while learning ways to peacefully interact with others of different cultures.
Project Director - Dr. Lindsey C. Blom, Assistant Professor of Sport and Exercise Psychology at Ball State University, certified sport psychology consultant, and "D" licensed soccer coach. Dr. Blom’s research expertise relates to the psycho-social aspects of youth sport and sport for peace and development. She co-authored "Survival Guide for Coaching Youth Soccer" and coached male and female youth soccer players at the club, high school and Olympic Development level for 13-plus years, with seven state championships.
Main Soccer Instructor: Steve Franklin, Indiana Soccer Association Director of Education. For the past 16 years, Franklin served as the head coach for IUPUI’s Men’s Soccer team, where he developed Hall of Famers and All-Americans. Steve hails as the first coach in IUPUI’s history to take a team to the NCAA Division I tournament in any sport. Coach Franklin has earned an NSCAA Premier Diploma, an NSCAA Advanced National Diploma, a USSF "A" coaching license, the US Soccer National Youth Coaching License, and the US Youth Soccer TOPSoccer state Coaching Certificate.
The Journey of the Project
Phase I - 2012 Jordan Trip
Our U.S. delegation of six project members comprised of two soccer coaches, two conflict resolution and interfaith experts, a fitness testing coach, and a Jordanian expert arrived in Amman, Jordan on Dec. 31. This group was made up of representatives from Ball State University, the Indiana Soccer Association and the Center for Interfaith Cooperation. We welcomed in the New Year at the American Center for Oriental Research (ACOR); our residence for the duration of our project in Jordan.
The three two-day workshops we offered in Jordan were designed to bring soccer coaches together to discuss and educate them about ways to use soccer to strengthen the citizenship and leadership behaviors of their athletes and others. Specifically, the Indiana Soccer Association "HD" (Human Development) curriculum and a set of conflict resolution skills were introduced, along with technical, tactical and fitness testing related soccer information. This material was also shared with the Jordanian youth that attended our workshops. Each workshop day lasted approximately seven hours.
As an example, our first workshop occurred on Jan. 1. It was hosted by Leaders of Tomorrow at Hashemite University in Zarqa. Twenty-two coaches recruited by Leaders of Tomorrow attended. On the second day of this workshop, approximately 50 children joined the workshop and the Jordanian coaches led the children in the "HD" and conflict resolution activities that they had learned on the first day.
Across the three locations where our program was implemented, eager local coaches, who consisted of physical education teachers, grassroots coaches and local village coaches, shared ideas, challenges and current methods with the U.S. Project Staff about ways to use soccer to develop athletes into more than just winning athletes, but also productive and helpful citizens. The classrooms were full of discussion and the gymnasium/field was full of energy and laughter. Each location had a different group of coaches and athletes who shared various meaningful experiences. Steve Franklin, Director of Education for the Indiana Soccer Association, taught the athletes several ‘claps,’ including the helicopter, the motorcycle, and fireworks, which were a big hit for both the coaches and participant athletes. Even with language differences, soccer and the common passion among the coaches and staff to develop well-rounded children enabled all of us to unite and allowed for a common ground from which to work.
We believe that the workshops were overwhelmingly successful, as supported by the coaches’ and athletes’ enthusiasm, the unplanned extra meetings and partnerships that developed post-workshop, the continued contact between us and our Jordanian partners, and the smiles on the faces of the children. Both the U.S. and Jordanian groups learned more about our commonalities, rather than our differences.
Phase II – The US Visit
The second phase of this project was a cultural exchange in the United States with 12 Jordanian soccer coaches who participated in Phase I. The group arrived in Chicago on May 9 and departed Indianapolis on May 20.
In Chicago, delegation attended a Major League Soccer game between the Chicago Fire and Real Salt Lake, and then met with the leadership of the United States Soccer Federation to discuss coaching and referee education.
The delegation spent the next seven days in Indianapolis, staying in the heart of downtown Indianapolis at the Homewood Suites. On their first day in the Hoosier state, the delegation visited the Eiteljorg Museum and Indiana Museum of Art to experience key cultural landmarks in Indianapolis.
On Saturday, May 12 the group headed to Columbus, Ohio, and attended its second Major League Soccer game, where the Columbus Crew knocked off FC Dallas, 2-1. We also toured Crew Stadium prior to the game.
After taking Sunday off, the delegation spent the morning learning about high school soccer at North Central High School before spending the afternoon learning about youth and grassroots soccer at the Indiana Soccer Association.
Tuesday was spent at the Peace Learning Center in Eagle Creek Park, where the group completed a peaceful living skills workshop and discussed the concept of sportsmanship.
On Wednesday, the group visited historic and important sports landmarks in Indianapolis. After touring Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts and Super Bowl XLVI, the group headed to the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) headquarters to learn about intercollegiate sports governance. The day was capped off with an afternoon spent at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway watching practice for the Indianapolis 500 race.
The delegation headed to Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, for the final four days of the trip. After meeting with a variety of university dignitaries, the group completed a Conflict Resolution Skills Training at the Center for Peace and Conflict Studies.
Friday and Saturday were spent at the Indiana Soccer Clinic, hosted in the Human Performance Building at Ball State. The participants interacted with soccer coaches from across Indiana in classroom lectures on topics such as nutrition and organizational leadership, and also during on-field sessions practicing key skills, such as defending and attacking.
Phase III - The 2013 Return Trip to Jordan
The project team members traveled to Amman, Jordan for their final trip March 10-17, where they engaged 85 Jordanian coaches in Phase III of the program. The third phase, a four-day workshop, took place at the Jordan Football Association, in partnership with Leaders of Tomorrow and Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre. Coaches from Zarqa, Ajloun, and Amman attended. During the afternoons of March 14 and 15, close to 200 Jordanian youth from surrounding areas joined the American and Jordanian coaches on the field for field training led by Indiana Soccer Director of coaching Education Steve Franklin. Topics of the workshop included soccer tactics, fitness training, developing citizenship, leadership, conflict resolution skills in athletes and coaches, and coaching psychology.
The main goal was to establish a collaborative environment among coaches and athletes; To use the "HD" activities to teach kids about citizenship and healthy behaviors; and to teach athletes about peaceful living skills they can use in different contexts (e.g., playing soccer, with friends, at school).
The Human Development (HD) Curriculum was designed to help develop good citizens through sport (soccer); To keep young players involved in a sport longer to help reduce obesity rates and to embrace strong healthy habits; and to combine each activity with a "soccer" and "human development" theme.