HIDALGO, Mexico (Wednesday, March 13, 2002) - The U.S. Under-19 Women's National Team used their recent trip to Mexico for more than just soccer and sightseeing, taking time out of their busy schedule to visit children at two local schools in the state of Hidalgo, where the U.S. team was based. While
the Americans were extremely successful on the field, defeating both the Costa Rican and Mexican Under-19 teams, the real victories came off the field, as they spent parts of two different mornings with children at two different grade schools.
"At a camp in San Diego last October, we took the players to do a clinic for the children of military members at a base there," said U.S. head coach Tracey Leone. "Our players love doing events like these and the Mexican children were so receptive. It's invaluable for the players to go out into the community and give back to the game of soccer. I see that when we take the players to work with children, then end up getting as much out of the experience as the kids. For our players at this stage in their lives to be able to give of themselves is tremendous for their growth as people."
It was a national week of Anti-Drug and Anti-Violence in Mexico, and the U.S. players who range in age from 17-19, spoke to the children through interpreters about not using drugs, living healthy lifestyles, staying away from violence and the importance of school and education.
The players were big hits in soccer-crazy Mexico, interacting with about 500 students at each school, signing autographs, posing for pictures, answering questions and playing soccer with the youngsters. Some of the Mexican children even taught the U.S. players some traditional Mexican dancing.
"It was great experience to go to the schools and try to talk with the kids," said U.S. captain Keeley Dowling, a University of Tennessee freshman. "They were so enthusiastic."