The State Department’s Sports Diplomacy Division works primarily with professional leagues and NGB’s to recruit retired and active athletes and coaches with a passion for using sport for social change. If you’re interested in becoming a part of the Sports Envoy program, please contact the government relations advisor at your professional sports league or national governing body of sport (NGB). Please note, by federal law, Sports Envoys must be U.S. citizens.
Sports Envoys are American university, professional, Olympic or Paralympic athletes or former athletes, coaches, and/or sports administrators who travel abroad to lead sports programs developed by U.S. Embassies and Consulates. Sports Envoys have participated in sport at a high-level or have an expertise in one of the foreign policy priorities that uniquely qualify them to serve as an ambassador for the United States in foreign territories. Sports Envoys are typically suggested by professional sports leagues and federations; however, we do accept inquiries outside of traditional channels. If qualified and interested, please let us know by completing a short questionnaire here.
Under our current structure, the Sports Envoy Program responds to needs in the field through a formal call for proposals, in which U.S. embassies and consulates submit written, detailed ideas through our annual submission process. The Sports Envoy program model includes 1-2 Envoys traveling to each country to share their skills and experiences, rather than an entire team. However, there may be opportunities to partner with U.S. embassies or consulates when U.S. teams travel internationally, in which case we can assist in the facilitation. Additionally, there are opportunities within the International Sports Programming Initiative (ISPI) to serve as a subcontract recipient for two-way exchanges. More information on ISPI can be found here.
Depending on budgetary considerations, the Sports Diplomacy Division sends approximately 60 athletes per year to 30 countries, most often in pairs. Each project is unique and tailored to fit the needs as identified by the embassy or consulate in-country. Athletes representing more than 24 sports – from soccer to skateboarding – have traveled on various programs, as close as Mexico and as far as Fiji. For a complete list of Envoys, please click here.
The State Department Sports Diplomacy Division receives funding from Congress that is specifically designated for implementing four different two-way international sports-based exchanges. For more information on those four programs please visit our about page. All of these programs are implemented through a grant awarded to a U.S.-based implementing partner. For more information on open Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFO), please visit Grants.gov and search the keyword “sports”. The Sports Diplomacy Division does not accept unsolicited proposals for funding.
Sports Diplomacy Division programs are planned far in advance and it can be difficult to coordinate volunteer opportunities overseas. However, if you are planning a trip well in advance and have relevant expertise to contribute, please contact the Public Affairs Section at the U.S. embassy or consulate in the location you are traveling. You will find contact information on the relevant U.S. embassy website. You may also contact the Sports Diplomacy Division at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will consider your inquiry for target of opportunity programming.
The Sports Diplomacy Division is in the Bureau of Educational Affairs at the U.S. State Department. If you are interested in being employed by the State Department, available positions are typically posted on USAjobs.gov. The Sports Diplomacy Division also takes on two interns per term through both the in-person U.S. Department of State Student Internship Program and the e-intern Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) program. For more information on eligibility and application instructions for either of those programs please visit their respective websites hyperlinked above. Please note that only U.S. citizens may apply for these opportunities.