From Rohingya refugees who are creating new soccer teams in Australia, to a Chilean player striving for women on the pitch, to a MLS star who is giving back to his homeland of Sierra Leone, The Long Game examines the power of sports to change the world for the better. The Long Game is hosted by Olympic medalist and change agent Ibtihaj Muhammad and co-hosted by Karen Given who was the Executive Producer and interim host for WBUR’s Only A Game which ended production in 2020.
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Robi Alam is a Rohingya refugee. His family fled violence and persecution in Myanmar. A decade later, Robi was born in a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Life was hard in the camps, and Robi and his friends would wrap rubber bands around a wad of plastic bags and play football until the ball fell apart. When Robi was 10, his family emigrated to Australia, where most people have never even heard of the plight of the Rohingya. To help ease their transition, Robi and some of his fellow Rohingya started playing football again, informally at first, in nearby parks. But their passion grew, and they formed an official club. They call themselves Rohingya United, and their goal is to raise awareness of the Rohingya issue. Now there are Rohingya football teams scattered across Australia, as well as in Canada, the US, and other countries.
When Michael Lahoud was six years old, he fled civil war in Sierra Leone and came to the United States. He felt scared and alone. But with help from his favorite sport – soccer – Michael was able to make friends, find a community and earn a college scholarship. Years later, while playing professionally in the MLS, Michael was approached by a stranger who asked him, “How would you like to change the world?” For Michael, the answer was simple. He decided to build a school in Sierra Leone and use his platform as a professional soccer player to make sure that what happened in his home country never happens again.
Iona Rothfeld joined the Chilean women’s national team at just 13 years old. Over the years, she started to get used to playing in men’s hand-me-down jerseys and showering locker rooms that didn’t have hot water. But in 2016, at the age of 23, Iona founded the first union for women’s soccer players in all of Latin America. And things are starting to change in Chile.
This special will air on Friday December 2nd at 10 am and 8 pm here on 88.3 FM KCPW.
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