One unique aspect to the FIFA women's youth tournaments is that there is way more friendly interaction between the teams than you would see during a senior level tournament. The teams generally stay in the same hotels (at least by group) and often eat in the same ball rooms.
Of course, the Gambian U-17 WNT took it to a new level. Despite losing 6-0 to the USA on Sept. 25, the Gambians took it upon themselves to make friends with the U.S. team -- the entire U.S. team -- and the players have been hanging out a bit over the past two days, learning about each other's countries, becoming Facebook friends, teaching each other dance moves and laughing, a lot.
Morgan Stanton was really happy to meet someone her size
Full credit to the Gambians (and the USA) for putting aside the heat of competition after the match (which was a bit chippy), keeping a positive attitude after losing two games by lopsided scores, and reaching out for some cultural diplomacy.
Once of the greatest parts of playing for a U.S. youth national team -- or any national team for that matter -- is getting to travel the world, see new places and meet people from different cultures and backgrounds. The U.S. players have embraced this opportunity over this whole cycle and now have a few new friends in Africa as well.
"Hi, my name is Gabbi. What's yours?"
Morgan Andrews and a new friend doing some web surfing