DCM Rafik Mansour Remarks at reception for GOALS

DoS Seal

As prepared
Yerevan, March 7, 2018

Thank you all for having me with you today. I wish I was able to play soccer half as well as the young women pictured in these photos.

I can guarantee you that anyone seeing them play, seeing them be competitive on that field, will clearly be able to see that Armenian women know the awesome power they carry within themselves.

Sadly, still today, some people say women should not play soccer. Or they don’t like the idea of women studying in university. And I think these young women’s participation in GOALS, their success at sports, shows them that women can do anything.

Look at the Olympics that just finished in Korea. The United States won 21 medals, and 12 – more than half – were won by women athletes. Of the eight gold medals we won, five went to female competitors. Women can do anything, I think everyone in this room already realizes that and does not need a male diplomat to tell you that. But for many outside this room right now who do think that way, we need to keep reminding them that we are equal.

Every time these young women run across the field, kick the ball, dive to block it, jump to bounce a ball into the net with their heads – they are inspiring men and women alike, changing the minds of those who would try to place limits upon them.

So some might ask, why does the U.S. government support GOALS? Why did Peace Corps volunteers in 2015 start this group? Why have we funded it through various grants throughout the years? It is not only that we think it’s important for young people to exercise; we support you because we know that through sports these young women are gaining self-confidence. They are becoming leaders. They are learning to be team players. They are accepting the powerful ability to change society that we all have within us.

The young women in these photos are soccer players today. Tomorrow they are CEOs, university rectors, orchestra conductors, novelists, presidents, and parents. Tomorrow they are changing the world for the better because today they kicked a ball.

Thank you to all those involved in the GOALS program, who lead the camps, coach the players, and serve as role models for these young women.