On the eve of the Final Draw for the 2006 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Championship in Russia, the U.S. U-20s took a short afternoon trip to visit an orphanage named O Lar Tia Anastacia in the favela Rosario, a slum set in the foothills of Teresopolis, Brazil. The U.S. team was in Brazil competing in the Ricardo Teixeira Cup against Canada and Brazil. The young Americans tied Canada in the first match, 2-2, but rebounded with a 2-0 victory vs. the hosts in their second game of the tournament. They clinched first place in the competition with a 4-0 win vs. Canada in their third match, and closed out play with a 2-1 loss vs. Brazil on the final matchday.
The U.S. team brought enough new and used soccer gear to fill three large duffel bags on the trip to Brazil. The players divided the gear, which featured piles of t-shirts, shorts, shin-guards, flip-flops, soccer balls and soccer cleats, between gifts for the kids and donations to the girl’s soccer club Cotia in Sao Paulo. The gear will be delivered to the girls next week.
The U.S. team spent 30 minutes with the kids, handed out the gear, played some soccer and got a short tour of the clean, colorful orphanage that can house up to 35 children. Founded in 1987, it is open 24 hours a day and houses babies up to 18-year-olds. All a child has to do is knock on the door and they will be let in. The orphanage helps up to 150 children a year and the staff there provides medical care and transportation to school. Many of the children come from homes where the parents are drug addicts, are drug addicts themselves and/or suffer from a myriad of emotional problems. O Lar Tia Anastcia gets no government assistance and relies on donations to stay open.
For the 18-and-19-year-old U.S. players, it was an experience to be remembered.
Midfielder Amanda Poach
“My heart goes out to those kids. It’s amazing that people can run a place like that where kids can go to feel safe and eat a warm meal in a neighborhood with such poverty. To watch them put on what was probably their first pair of soccer cleats ever just touched my heart.”
Defender Stephanie Logterman
“We got some good high-fives and fist-pounds from the kids. It was awesome to be able to interact with them, and be able make a small difference in their day. It’s so cool that through sport, we can transcend the language barriers and bring smiles to their faces even though we can’t totally communicate with them. It was fun to play Santa Claus. It was truly like Christmas in April.”
Midfielder Brittany Bock
“They were the cutest kids. At the end, when we were leaving, a kid went to hug me, and it felt like he didn’t want to let go. Just seeing how much joy they got out of our visit made me feel really good.”
Defender Carrie Dew
“It was a really great experience and I think we were all really pleased that we could make a difference for those kids, even if it was just for a short time. Seeing them and what they have to deal with every day really makes us appreciate everything that we have. I hope we can do things like this again in the future.”
Midfielder Danesha Adams
“It was an eye-opener. It makes you think about how you are going to raise your own kids. It makes you realize how much these kids don’t have and shows us that we can never take what we have for granted, even the simple things.”
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