Former U.S. World Cup player Tony Sanneh credited with an assist in Pakistan relief effort
Tony Sanneh traveled the planet during his soccer career, starting for the U.S. national team in South Korea at the 2002 World Cup, venturing to Latin America and Europe for qualifiers and friendlies, moving to Germany to further his club ambitions with Hertha Berlin and Nuremberg after helping D.C. United reach the first three MLS Cups.
Less than a year since retiring, Sanneh is overseas again, this time for a humanitarian cause. He has joined other former players in Pakistan to assist with aid relief for those affected by catastrophic flooding.
"We give every family mats, flour, rice, bowls, pepper, water, water-purifying pills, coolers, cups, kitchen stuff as well as five or 10 other items," Sanneh, 39, told the Insider in an e-mail exchange from Pakistan. "A lot of the families have their stuff washed away so they have nothing. The extent of flood is pretty horrific. Our distribution is pretty organized but challenging. So much is flooded and pockets of housing are so small. We have to go by boat, not motorized, and carry all this stuff to island-like areas. Some have not even been helped by military yet and are running out of everything. There is nowhere to go but wait for help and hope."
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Sanneh is a native of St. Paul, Minn., who ended his 16-year pro career with the Los Angeles Galaxy last season. His interests beyond soccer took hold in 2003, when he launched The Sanneh Foundation, which "provides positive environments for urban youth to become positive and productive adults. ... The cycle in urban communities of desperation and poverty calls for our continued vigilance in overcoming the hopelessness that can destabilize a community."
Sanneh's Pakistan mission began through his association with Global United FC, a loosely organized team comprising former players from around the world that emphasizes environmental issues. He then joined with Gift of the Givers, a South African-based disaster relief organization that is working in Pakistan.
The work is grueling, and at times, dangerous. The mood is particularly tense in Karachi this week after a Pakistani politician was stabbed to death in London.
"There are lots of guns, which makes me nervous time to time, especially when I say I am American because you never know their perception," he told me. "But so far everyone has been friendly."
| September 18, 2010; 11:12 AM ET
Categories: D.C. United, MLS, U.S. men's national team
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