Norman coaches to expand sports program to Iraq

This summer, Steve DeVoss and members of his international coaching network will spend five weeks in Baghdad running youth and adaptive sports camps.

By MEREDITH MORIAK Published: May 16, 2010
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Worden works in the Norman office setting up camps, applying for funding and recruiting coaches and professionals to work at the camps.

"We want to appropriately match the resources with the request,” Worden said. "If we’re not an expert, we’re not going to claim we are.”

Global Sports Partners aims to strengthen existing programs and build new ones in various countries, DeVoss said. Programs are started based on requests from various countries and federations.

Currently, women’s sports in Middle Eastern countries and basketball are very popular, DeVoss said. Cultural adaptations — with uniforms and equipment — are often made so everyone can play sports.

"Everyone needs a chance for self-expression,” DeVoss said. "We find a way to accommodate them within their context.”

The company’s main mission is to develop sports and instill values, DeVoss said.

"We come in, help them find their objective, work with and underneath their coaches and instructors to meet their objectives. We wanted to raise them up and make them stronger,” DeVoss said.

DeVoss said his company aims to strengthen a country’s programs, encourage their players to stay and promote unity and national pride.

"One of our effectiveness markers is to see improvement in the country,” DeVoss said.

Although working in countries where the languages, customs and time zones are different, DeVoss said the similarity of sports makes his job possible.

"Once we put ourselves out there and open ourselves to people from other cultures, we begin to appreciate each other and have a mutual respect,” DeVoss said.