USTA x Global Sports Mentoring: Soe Soe Mayer

Erin Maher | November 02, 2018

While the USTA is known for its work domestically, it is also having an impact on the world, thanks to a partnership with the Global Sports Mentoring Program (GSMP). Launched in 2012, the GSMP is an initiative created by the U.S. Department of State to help empower emerging leaders to serve their local communities by increasing access to and opportunities for participation in sports.


The GSMP selects 16 or 17 participants each year from a list of nominees selected by U.S. embassies throughout the world who demonstrate leadership skills, have experience in the sports sector, are proficient in English and have three or more years of work or volunteer experience with a sports-based development program or organization. 


In September, as part of the GSMP initiative, the USTA hosted Soe Soe Mayer, the deputy director of sport and physical education for Myanmar’s Ministry of Health and Sports. Mayer, 35, is from Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar. She holds a B.A. in Economics from Yangon University of Distance Education and an M.S. in Global Sports Management from Seoul National University. 


As part of her mentoring program, Mayer spent time in both the USTA’s National Headquarters in White Plains, N.Y., and at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla. caught up with Mayer before the conclusion of her mentorship to discuss the GSMP, her home country of Myanmar and what she’s learned during her time spent with the USTA. Why did you want to partake in the Global Sports Mentoring Program?


Soe Soe Mayer: When I got information about the Global Mentoring Program, I wanted to learn how other females from other countries worked in sports and promoting a community. What do you see as the greatest challenge facing girls and women or people with disabilities in your home country of Myanmar?


Soe Soe Mayer: We have a lot of challenges for females. For example, for female students, if they want to go to medical school, they have to have better scores than boys. For those with disabilities, there is not adequate public transportation. Prior to joining the USTA with GSMP, what was your experience with or knowledge of tennis?


Soe Soe Mayer: Tennis? I like tennis, but I like to watch it. When I was young, I already played taekwondo, and I wanted to play tennis because my friends played. It was also very fashionable with the short skirt, and I wanted to wear them. But, unfortunately, I could not afford to play tennis. Now I like to watch tennis. I know some tennis star players I watch on TV. Who is your favorite tennis player?


Soe Soe Mayer: Rafael Nadal What about Rafael Nadal do you like?


Soe Soe Mayer: I watch his matches, so maybe that’s why I like him. You mentioned you haven’t played a lot of tennis, but now after your time with the USTA, do you think you’ll play?


Soe Soe Mayer: Maybe I can play tennis for fun. You are a global taekwondo instructor and former world junior champion. Do you see any similarities between taekwondo and tennis?


Soe Soe Mayer: Yes, there is. They have a few differences, also, because taekwondo is a contact game and tennis is a non-contact game. There is similarity in that you have to understand the timing and the speed level of your opponents. What is the greatest lesson you have learned during your time with the USTA?


Soe Soe Mayer: When I first arrived at the USTA, I was so surprised by the structure of the organization. The USTA is a nonprofit sports organization with a huge structure, and this surprised me. So I learned how it functions, this type of structure. What during your time with the USTA do you hope to bring back and implement in Myanmar?


Soe Soe Mayer: I learned how the USTA promotes tennis and youth development. So when I go back to my home country, even though I’m not a tennis player, I will contact Myanmar’s tennis federation to develop tennis more because we have tennis, of course, but we can always expand it.


For more information on the Global Sports Mentoring Program, click here


Pictured above: Soe Soe Mayer on campus at the USTA National Campus in Orlando, Fla., in October 2018. 



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