U.S. Department of State Announces NBA-WNBA Sports Envoy Program to South Korea Featuring Alex English and Nykesha Sales

Media Note
Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
May 13, 2014

The U.S. Department of State, together with the National Basketball Association (NBA), will send Alex English and Nykesha Sales as Sports Envoys to Seoul, South Korea, May 19–24. Their Sports Envoy program will use basketball to develop skills and promote shared values with South Korean youth, with a specific focus on promoting the acceptance and inclusion of traditionally marginalized members of South Korean society—including orphans, athletes with disabilities, children of mixed ethnicity, and at-risk youth. This exchange program aims to remove barriers and promote a society in which persons with disabilities and the underserved enjoy dignity and full inclusion.

This Sports Envoy program reflects the South Korean Government’s recent focus on reinforcing the rights of underrepresented and underserved populations. In addition to promoting access to sport for all, the Envoys will meet with leadership of the Korean Basketball League and Women’s Korean Basketball League to discuss shared business interests in helping grow the sport around the world.

Embarking on his first Sports Envoy program, Alex English played in the NBA from 1976 to 1991, earning eight All-Star appearances while becoming the highest-scoring player in the 1980s. A veteran Sports Envoy of programs in Ukraine and Venezuela, Nykesha Sales graduated from the University of Connecticut as the school’s all-time leading scorer. She led the Connecticut Suns to the WNBA Finals in 2004 and 2005 and was named a WNBA All-Star six times.

The State Department’s sports diplomacy programming encourages the involvement of traditionally underrepresented audiences. Since 2003, the State Department, through the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, has brought nearly 1,000 athletes from more than 60 countries to the United States to participate in Sports Visitor programs, and has sent over 220 U.S. athletes to more than 50 countries on Sports Envoy programs. To learn more about State Department sports diplomacy, follow the program on Twitter at @SportsDiplomacy.

For press inquiries, contact the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs at eca-press@state.gov.