CARSON, Calif. (August 24, 2008) – The 2008 Women’s Nike Friendlies wrapped up on Sunday in Carson, Calif., four days after more than 400 youth players ate breakfast while watching the U.S. Women’s National Team win the gold medal.
Three U.S. Youth National Teams and 25 premier club teams from around the country played three games over the course of four days at the U.S. Soccer National Training Center. In all, a total of 42 matches were played, with the final games for each team coming early on Sunday. The event emphasized quality soccer and education ahead of results, and no standings were kept.
“The Women’s Nike Friendlies shows me what level I need to go to,” said U.S. Under-15 GNT defender Kathryn Nigro. “It helps me raise the bar, and when I get back home I just need to keep on working to get as good as these girls.”
To kick off the event, the players heard from U.S. WNT defender Cat Whitehill and University of Southern California head coach Ali Khosroshahin, both of whom provided advice on hydration, nutrition, fitness and urging the athletes to become students of the game.
In addition to the high-quality fields, participants were provided with Gatorade, fruit and access to trainers to provide the best environment available at this age level. A U.S. Soccer Referee Academy was held in conjunction with the event, bringing some of the top women’s referees from around the country to work at the event while also receiving instruction from the U.S. Soccer Referee Department.
The top U.S. YNT team at the event, the U.S. Under-15 Girls’ National Team, won three games with a variety of goals scored against competition that featured girls aged one or two years older. This group of players will be in the running to represent the U.S. at the 2010 Under-17 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
“It gives us another opportunity for us to let them play for their country, get in an organized event playing against high caliber club teams which are older and more experienced,” said Under-15 GNT head coach Mike Dickey. “It allows them an opportunity to play together, work on certain things and preparing for the 2010 Under-17 World Cup.”
Dickey brought in 24 players on the U-15 GNT and 36 players from the Under-14 National Development Program. These players were divided into two teams and also played up two years as they were exposed to the National Team environment and coaching.
“Some of the women that play with our full team didn’t have the opportunity to play in a Women’s Nike Friendlies format, or with the U-17s,” Dickey said. “Some of them just had older age groups, and those that did have opportunities like this I just think there is greater depth right now. There are more players that are experienced, that have had great experiences playing with their regional or national teams. They are getting some more opportunities now.”
Videos, photos and results from the weekend’s action are posted at ussoccer.com.