In Iraq's Muthanna province, young men play soccer on trash-strewn dirt lots, kicking with their bare feet whatever they can find -- sometimes a deflated ball, sometimes an empty soda can.

Soccer in Muthanna offers a stark contrast to the competitive leagues in the prosperous Washington suburbs. So some Fairfax County soccer players and their parents are partnering with U.S. diplomats to build in Muthanna a network of soccer fields and organize a youth league modeled after those in the United States.

Vienna Youth Soccer parent volunteers are raising money and collecting used uniforms, balls, cleats and other soccer equipment from the league's 3,500 players to ship to Iraq. The charity drive ends tomorrow, but already parent organizer Erin Tesch has nearly 1,000 jerseys spilling across her garage.


Donations for Youth Soccer League in Muthanna, Iraq
VYS is working to assist in the effort to build a youth soccer league in Muthanna, . On the UN’s Deprivation Index, Muthanna ranks last among all Iraqi provinces. Unemployment is around 50% of the population. As you might imagine, unemployed and idle young men provide a fertile recruiting ground for the militias. This effort hopes to counter that influence by giving the youth of the province a constructive alternative: soccer. VYS have collected a significant number of items and we will be shipping these items soon. We are now asking for financial donations to help purchase needed supplies and help defray the cost of shipping. If you would like to make a financial donation, please make a check payable to VYS, and mail it to: Vienna Youth Soccer, Inc., P.O. Box 993, Vienna, VA 22183 . Please reference Iraq Soccer League in the memo portion of your check.