Famous professional athletes Josh Norman and Oguchi Onyewu were taking free kicks on the quad Friday, Sept. 29.
The world-class athletes came as representatives for the organization Football for Peace, an international non-governmental organization that uses sports for diplomacy and outreach. The organization aims to reduce poverty, inequality, environmental degradation and injustice via sports diplomacy.
The organization came to AU to announce the launch of the first Football for Peace Center in the United States. The center will focus on resolving pressing social and environmental challenges through youth empowerment by watering prosperity and societal advocacy. The organization will work collaboratively with students and alumni from the School of International Service to address these issues.
“This partnership aligns perfectly with the upcoming World Cup; soccer touches five billion people and has the power to move masses,” said Kash Siddiqi, Football for Peace co-founder and former professional soccer player, during the event. “Through this dynamic partnership, we're not just coming together; we're playing a pivotal role in promoting peace through soccer and football.
The center will serve underprivileged and marginalized communities in DC, Maryland and Virginia. As a Maryland native himself, former pro-soccer player Oguchi Onyewu spoke on what it means to have Football for Peace working with his community.
“What they’ve done in the UK, and now what they’re trying to bring over here in America…I think it’s wonderful,” Onyewu said.
NFL cornerback Josh Norman, who spent several seasons in Washington playing for the Redskins, spoke to the goals of Football for Peace in the DMV.
“I hope it can get the people out and getting active,” Norman said. “If we can get out and get active, through sport, through play, through activities…that’s who we are.”
The all-pro cornerback spent some time on the quad taking free kicks with Onyewu and taking pictures with fans. Afterward, he took the time to recognize the university’s hospitality.
“Coming here and receiving this hospitality; it’s world-class,” Norman said. “This community is tight-knit, you see different races and people and spaces, and they are all connected… you can feel the vibrations of that.”