Five of Afghanistan’s leading female coaches, nonprofit directors and sports professionals visited the FOX Sports headquarters in Los Angeles on May 12 to discuss how best to encourage young women in their home country to participate in sports. The International Visitors Council of Los Angeles (IVCLA) arranged the trip as part of the U.S. Department of State’s International Visitor Leadership Program for professional and cultural exchanges. The visit featured a tour of the FOX Sports studios and a roundtable discussion with top executives on how to organize programs, drive participation, and establish a culture of health, activity, and fitness.
“Historically, sports has been an impetus for social change, including the evolution of race, gender and sexual orientation equality,” said Cayla Pingel, a finance manager at FOX Sports who helped organize the trip. “It’s our responsibility as the Women of FOX Sports to not only work to empower female colleagues at FOX Sports, but to also share experiences and mentor other women globally.”
The delegation consisted of five prominent figures in Afghanistan’s sports world, representing a diverse range of organizations, including Hajar Abulfazl, coach of the under-17 squad of the Afghanistan National Women’s Soccer Team; Salma Hussaini, director of the Women’s Committee at the country’s National Taekwondo Federation; Laila Safi, coach and owner of the Balkh Women Exercise Center; Tuba Sangar, development manager of women’s cricket at the Afghanistan Cricket Board; and Firoza Wahedy, director of the Women Economic, Social & Sport Development Organization (WESSDO).
Their day began with a roundtable discussion of how to promote sports programs and events, how to combine sports and social activism and the cultural and religious obstacles facing women in Afghanistan who want to participate in sports. Jeff Krolik, President of FOX Sports Regional Networks, and Chris Hannon, EVP of Communication and Integration at FOX Sports, joined the meeting, along with four representatives of Women of FOX Sports (WoFS), a professional resource for the company’s female colleagues.
Following the discussion, WoFS representatives led the delegation on a tour of FOX Sports’ studio operations, demonstrating how the sports industry is covered and marketed in the U.S., as well as how women’s roles in sports–from athletes to journalists to studio technicians–have evolved over the years. The tour culminated in a meeting with Colin Cowherd, host of “The Herd” on FOX Sports 1.
Launched in fall 2015, the Women of FOX Sports initiative helps the business’s female employees connect, support, and learn from one another. The group has featured a series of events including speaker panels and mentoring, and has rallied employees to give back to the community through volunteering and donation drives.
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