ATLANTA, GA, UNITED STATES, March 9, 2023 / — The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs at the Georgia Institute of Technology is excited to announce the upcoming Atlanta Conference on Soccer & Innovation, taking place on March 29-30, 2023. The event will bring together scholars, practitioners and sports enthusiasts from around the world to explore the power of soccer to transform lives, particularly for marginalized communities. In particular, the Nunn School takes great pride in honoring five Atlanta-based individuals at the Superheroes of the Pitch awards on the evening of March 29th, who have each used soccer as a means to empower and uplift marginalized communities, including refugees, immigrants and people with disabilities.

The conference will feature a variety of panels and workshops along with a large public event celebrating the ways in which soccer organizations are using innovation to effect positive change. Attendees will have the opportunity to hear from keynote speakers including former professional soccer player Greg Garza and Mbali Hlongwane, the Founder of Pink Codrs in South Africa.

Atlanta has quickly emerged as a thriving hub for soccer in the U.S., as evidenced by the impressive attendance numbers at the Atlanta United games. In 2019, the team drew a staggering 52,000+ fans per game, far outpacing the Major League average of 21,000. This upward trend is expected to continue in the coming years, particularly as Atlanta prepares to host matches for the 2026 Men’s World Cup.

“As Atlanta emerges as a prominent global player in the realm of soccer, the Atlanta Conference on Soccer & Innovation stands as a testament to the city’s unwavering dedication to using sports as a vehicle for social transformation,” remarked Dr. Kirk Bowman, Regents’ Entrepreneur, Full Professor and Rise Up & Care Term Chair in Global Development & Identity.

The conference serves as an important reminder that soccer is more than just a game – it is a powerful tool for social and economic development. Through its ability to forge identity, challenge hierarchies, shape migration patterns and more, soccer can have a transformative impact on individuals and communities. This is particularly true for marginalized groups, such as refugees, immigrants, the homeless and individuals with disabilities, who often face significant barriers. By using soccer as a lens to understand and explain our world, the Atlanta Conference on Soccer & Innovation seeks to showcase the game’s potential as a change agent in issues of race, gender, the environment, peace and more.

The Sam Nunn School and Georgia Tech as a whole are at the forefront of sports diplomacy. In particular, Dr. Bowman’s research focuses on the intersection of soccer and politics. He is currently using experimental design to test the impact of soccer as a catalyst for change in marginalized neighborhoods of the Global South. Overall, through its Global Development programs, the school further underscores the university’s commitment to addressing critical global challenges. Through its innovative curriculum, students are prepared to respond to the pressing issues of climate change, rapid urbanization and growing inequality in developing areas. By using soccer as a case study to explore these complex issues, the Atlanta Conference on Soccer & Innovation will highlight the power of interdisciplinary collaboration and the ways in which sports, technology and innovation can be harnessed for social impact.

“Empowering our students to confront the world’s most pressing challenges is at the heart of the Sam Nunn School of International Affairs. As we host this conference, we have a unique opportunity to inspire the next generation of leaders who will help shape a better future,” shared Dr. Adam Stulberg, Sam Nunn School Chair and Professor.

To learn more about this initiative, please visit
For media inquiries, please contact Claire Angelle at

The Sam Nunn School of International Affairs is dedicated to educating the next generation of scholars and practitioners on diverse approaches to tackling real-world problems to advance the global human condition. As one of the first professional schools of international affairs situated at a major technological institute, it provides comprehensive, interdisciplinary, multi-method and flexible undergraduate and graduate social science programming. For more information, visit

Claire Angelle
Angelle Consulting
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