Women's soccer team journeys to Brazil
Sports | Tyler Schmidt for The Clarion
The Lady Royals circle up to pray with a Brazilian club team. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Jessica Huseby
It wasn’t a typical off-season for the 2013 Bethel Women’s soccer team. As the summer drew to a close and the preseason loomed, the Royals had the opportunity to come together over tourism, ministry and soccer in Brazil.
The team experienced picturesque views, saw famous landmarks and created lasting memories while staying 8 nights just off the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. First, the team stayed in Saquarema, better known as the surfing capital of the world. After three days, they moved across town and spent the remainder of their time only one block away from the world-famous Copacabana Beach.
“We could wake up, go on top of the roof and see the entire beach,” senior Suzette Anderson said. “But if you look the other way there are these colorful slums built up this mountain… It’s just crazy, like a different world.”
The team visited other notable sites, including the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado Mountain, a destination they traveled to twice due to inclement weather the first time. They also watched a professional soccer match in the Estádio do Maracanã, host to the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Summer Olympics. The Lady Royals were also privileged to have local man Hudson Fortune serve as their tour guide for the trip. He pointed out various landmarks and historical sites that the common person would not have known.
Along with seeing the countryside and viewing other places of elegant grandeur, the Bethel Women’s Soccer team was also able to share the gospel with many of the Brazilian natives by combining, soccer and faith, two of their deepest passions.
Following games against Brazilian club teams, the team formed a circle and said a group prayer. After that, each player would partner up with the girl on her right and pray for whatever was necessary. Despite having the adversity of a language barrier, Anderson noted that the power of the Holy Spirit was felt in those moments. The team also brought assorted soccer equipment, such as jerseys, shin guards, socks and cleats, to give to the teams that they played.
“Those cleats meant so much to the kids, “ Anderson said. “It was like Christmas to them. Something so simple can be so powerful.”
The team hopes their trip to Brazil will give them an edge on the competition for the upcoming season. While on the trip, the team played a total of three games, winning their first game 4-3, tying their second 3-3 and losing their third to a professional team. On top of playing competitive games, the women also learned many different soccer techniques through training sessions on the beach and playing futsal with boys from a local orphanage.
Head coach Amanda Maxwell said the team took a lot away from their experiences playing in different circumstances.
“Things that the Brazilians do really well are they have confidence with the ball, they’re willing to play possessions, they play to each other’s feet," Maxwell said. "And those are all things that we took away and are trying to incorporate and be better technically that will make our game easier.”
The Royals are off to a good start, defeating the Simpson College Storm 2-1 in their opening game. Perhaps some of the lessons they’ve learned, technically and intangibly, will make for a great season.