Thumbnail photo. Original high-resolution photo available on Duke Today article.
It was announced on Duke Today and Duke Chronicle on April 25 that the Duke women’s soccer team will travel to China this summer for a week to play in an international friendly against a Chinese university team. The event coincides with the annual US-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (Duke Today, 2016). Last year, the event was held in Washington D.C., where Secretary of State John Kerry met with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong.
The annual event seeks to foster “dynamism and commitment of the many American non-governmental organizations (universities, foundations, advocacy groups, sports groups, etc) that partner with the US goverment to carry out a broad spectrum of exchanges.” It hopes to promote active involvement in civil society and academia by conducting a cross-cultural exchange. Included in its many fields of exchange, such as education, science and technology, health, and women’s issues, is sports. In 2015, more than a dozen sport leagues from both China and US had athletic exchanges (US Department of State, 2015). In years before 2015, several NBA pre-season games and an MLB team played in celebration of the event (US Department of State, 2014).
What a great honor to be chosen to represent the country in a global, cultural exchange? Not only will the team play a friendly match, but also “participate in soccer-related activities for local youth… and visit local historical and cultural sites in Beijing.” (Duke Today, 2016).
When I read about this summer program this afternoon, I was as ecstatic as any one else and on many levels. First, I had always somehow been involved with girls/women’s soccer. Most of my female friends from middle and high school were those that I met through the common hobby of soccer, and to this day I have attended more women’s soccer games than any other athletic event (a past significant other and friend was on the varsity team). Therefore, seeing the team having a tremendously successful season was a delight.
But more importantly, I am intrigued by the cultural exchange. Earlier this year we saw a historically monumental athletic goodwill when the Tampa Bay Rays played the Cuban national team in baseball and noted the vast political and social implications of such a game. I do not mean to put the Duke-China game at the same height as the Tampa Bay-Cuba game, but the symbol of goodwill and share of a common pastime are parallel.
President Broadhead was quoted on Duke Today calling the Duke women’s soccer team “ambassadors,” and I believe that is the perfect term to call our team. Our athletic and cultural ambassadors.
“Duke Women’s Soccer Team to Travel to China.” Duke Today. Duke University, 25 Apr. 2016. Web. 25 Apr. 2016. https://today.duke.edu/2016/04/soccerchina
“U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE).” US Department of State. Bureau of Public Affairs, 10 Jul. 2013. Web 25 Apr. 2016. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/07/228997.htm
“U.S.-China Consultation on People-to-People Exchange (CPE).” US Department of State. Bureau of Public Affairs, 24 Jun. 2015. Web 25 Apr. 2016. http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2015/06/244183.htm#