Last month, the Jordanian U15 Women’s National Soccer Team came to the US to train and engage in American culture. Some Dragonwing soccer girls here in North Carolina were among those fortunate enough to be able to scrimmage with the team, share a meal, and get to know a bit about the similarities and differences between their lives as teen girl athletes.
Former USWNT member and Olympic gold medalist, Cindy Parlow Cone, was one of the girls’ soccer coaches who met with the Jordanian girls’ team. A spokesperson for Dragonwing girlgear and ambassador for Goals for Girls, an international nonprofit that helps girls worldwide through cultural exchange and soccer, Parlow Cone noted the power of sports “diplomacy”:
Every time…I’m a sports envoy to another country, it just reiterates how much power…this sport of soccer has [around the world]. It’s amazing how this game can bring so many people together.
I can say quite confidently that this experience has changed my daughter’s life — and those of all the girls on the field that chilly December evening. To meet and interact, both casually and on the soccer field, with girls from another country, opened their eyes to the similarities and differences they experience as teen girls.
Despite language differences, they communicated perfectly in their shared “language” of soccer, where each girl knew what to do and how to play.
They relished the competition and joy of the sport! Most of the girls are now connected via social media and sharing parts of their daily lives — tweets, photos, and updates — with their new friends across the globe.
The members of the U15 team will be the first team to represent Jordan when it hosts the 2016 FIFA U17 Women’s World Cup in 2016.
The Jordanian team’s visit was part of the US State Department’s Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative and the University of Tennessee Center for Sport, Peace and Society.