GSMP Named Diplomatic Action of 2018

By Press Release, Tennessee Today October 22, 2018

The U.S. Department of State Global Sports Mentoring Program, an initiative implemented yearly by the University of Tennessee’s Center for Sport, Peace, and Society has been honored with an international award for using sport to inspire positive social change around the world.

At the annual Peace and Sport Awards, held October 18 in Rhodes, Greece, the dynamic partnership, which includes ESPN as a media partner, was named Diplomatic Action of the Year.

“What an unbelievable honor it is to be recognized by Peace and Sport,” said Sarah Hillyer, director of the CSPS. “We are so grateful for their leadership and contributions to an entire global community committed to using sport to build a more peaceful world.”

Winners of the 2018 Peace and Sport Awards pose together. Rinor Gashi was on-hand at the ceremony to receive the award on behalf of the GSMP

Alumni Rinor Gashi, a disability inclusion advocate and wheelchair basketball organizer from Kosovo, was in Greece to receive the award. Gashi participated in the 2016 GSMP Sport for Community exchange, where he was mentored by Doug Garner, assistant director of campus recreation for adapted sports at the University of Texas at Arlington.Rinor Gashi from Kosovo who participated in the 2017 Global Sports Mentoring Program: Sport for Community. U.S. Dept. of State in cooperation with University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace, & Society. Photographer: Jaron Johns

Participating in the GSMP allowed Gashi to return home and collaborate with the Basketball Federation of Kosovo to establish the country’s first wheelchair basketball federation.

“The GSMP gave me the power to empower others,” said Gashi, speaking from Greece. “This program made me understand that if you want do something great for your society you have to make an impact, not just be impressive.”

The CSPS has served as implementing partner of the GSMP since its inception in 2012 and has run 10 exchanges for the US Department of State. In six years, the center has collaborated with dozens of national organizations, including the National Hockey League, ESPN, the US Olympic Committee, Google, and Lakeshore Foundation, which serve as hosts to the leaders during three of the five weeks of each exchange. A total of 162 international sports leaders from 76 countries have participated in biannual exchanges focused on gender equality or disability inclusion. (In July, the GSMP’s gender equality exchange was honored with a Stuart Scott ENSPIRE Award at ESPN’s Sports Humanitarian Awards.)

As of August 2018, GSMP alumni have directly impacted more than 235,400 individuals through sport-based clinics and curriculum workshops.

Kosovo delegate Rinor Gashi, a wheelchair basketball leader, poses with the Peace and Sport award beside staff from the U.S. Embassy Athens

The CSPS is currently hosting a gender equality exchange, the 2018 GSMP Empower Women through Sports program, which concludes October 31. To learn more about the work of the CSPS, visit its website and FacebookTwitter, and Instagram channels.