The Global Sports Mentoring Program is an initiative created by the U.S. Department of State, in association with ESPN and University of Tennessee. The GSMP consists of two pillars: Empower Women through Sports and Sport for Community. These one-month mentorship experiences focus on empowering emerging leaders to serve their local communities by increasing access to and opportunities for participation in sports.
Each year, 16 to 17 participants demonstrating leadership skills and experience in the sports sector are chosen from a list of nominees selected by U.S. Embassies throughout the world. These emerging leaders are typically between 25 and 40 years of age, proficient in English, and have three or more years of work or volunteer experience with a sport-based development program/organization. Tapping into the unique power of mentoring, host organizations and mentors from the corporate and non-profit worlds are chosen to work alongside emerging leaders during an immersive three-week period.
In empowering women through sports, each emerging leader identifies a key need or challenge facing girls and women in their home country. During their mentorship in the U.S., they will develop a detailed action plan to address this challenge through sports. All action plans are designed to be implemented upon the emerging leaders’ return home.
This year, Samar Khan has been selected from Pakistan, based on her achievements and work in adventure sports. Samar hails from lower Dir, Kp and is an adventure athlete and a mountain biker. She’s known for her challenging feats and successful record attempts in mountain biking.
Some of her records are:
1. Becoming the first women to bike on world third largest non-polar glacial system, Biafo (Karakoram Range, Aug2016)
2. Becoming the first Pakistani cycle atop the ‘roof of Africa’, Kilimanjaro; and this expedition was sponsored by Pakistan Army (ISPR)(Dec 2017).
3. Biking to the highest international border, Khunjerab from Islamabad. (Sep 2015)
Samar started her adventurous journey from Army School of Physical Training, Abbotabad (Kakul)(Dec2014) when she attended the paragliding course and discover her passion for sports. After that, she excelled in many other sports like mix martial arts, trekking and mountaineering but cycling became her identity as she started exploring the highest peaks and glaciers on her mountain bike.
She has been awarded at numerous platforms nationwide and has been honored by US Embassy in Pakistan for considering her profile for ‘Global Sports Mentoring Program’. Samar had flown to Washington DC on 22nd Sep 2018 for orientation session and afterwards got privileged to represent the green flag in one of the biggest sports summit, ‘EspnW’ at California, where she spoke about her country and work to the sports professionals of United States. (Link: http://www.espn.com/espnw/video/24876936/ )
Samar had to represent her culture like other fellow athletes, who are selected from different countries like Brazil, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Russia and many more.
Samar dressed up in her traditional pashtoon dress from Lower Dir, to speak on the stage of EspnW with pride as she was the only Pakistani speaking on the behalf of millions of women who want to pursue their dreams.
Nowadays, she is being mentored by ‘Donna Carpenter’ CEO of ‘Burton Snowboards’, which is one of the renowned action-sports brand in Vermont.
With Donna, Samar is building her action plan regarding her sports vision for her community, which will be launched in Pakistan after her arrival. She will also be trained in mountain biking with professional riders and coach from US Olympics and X-Games.
Samar intends to create safe and comfortable places for young girls, boys and specially women to do sports activities and realize the importance of physical activities, as sports has power to transform lives and create leaders and empowered nation.