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MNT Putting on a Clinic

U.S. forward Chris Wondolowski couldn’t believe his eyes.

As he watched one of the girls going through a dribbling exercise, out of nowhere she pulled off a “snake” and a “rainbow.”

“I thought ‘holy cow, I’m not sure I could do that.’ These girls were really impressive.”

Those were just a couple of skills on display when the U.S. Men’s National Team hosted a clinic for 30 girls in the ‘Estrelas do Futebol’ program at Barra Funda, the training ground of Sao Paulo FC and the USA’s base for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The clinic helped launch the “Sports for All” program spearheaded by the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, Liliana Ayalde, to promote social inclusion through sports. With Landon Donovan and nine other players as coaches, the girls rotated through a series of skills stations including dribbling, passing, shooting, and a 3 v. 3 game.

After, they posed for pictures with the players – the Portuguese-speaking Benny Feilhaber was a huge hit – and then got a guided tour of the facilities.

The “Estrelas do Futebol” program is an initiative of the U.S. Consulate in São Paulo, Sesc São Paulo, and Associação Alumni that offers public school girls between 13 and 15 years of age a year of classes in soccer, English, and leadership skills, with the goal of fostering diversity and creating future community leaders.

The “Sports for All” initiative also engenders greater social inclusion and builds young people’s abilities to compete in the labor market. The fundamental concepts are team work, developing a sense of leadership through sports, and the teaching and learning of English, emphasizing the importance of education to their future success.