VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — When young girls see a win like Sunday’s by the U.S. women’s soccer team, their eyes are opened to a whole new world of possibilities.
A group of about 30 from Beach FC soccer saw it all in person. The group was at the semifinal and final games in Lyon, France.
“We’ve been looking at some pretty cool photos this morning of our players like with these players in the airport taking pictures,” said Beach FC Director of Soccer Mark Waite.
The high school students and their chaperones met U.S. team captain Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Kelly O’Hara.
Waite said players like these — relatable, personable and role models — are drawing more young girls to the game.
“The leadership and the teamwork that’s involved to win a World Cup, and that’s kind of a lot of what was preached during the World Cup by the players was how close the players are, so I think that is rather appealing on the girls side.”
He expects a spike in enrollment just like they saw after the last World Cup and Olympics.
Beach FC currently has about 4,000 players ages 3-18. There are still more boys than girls, but 12-year-old Grace Sabalerio thinks that could change after a win like Sunday’s.
“It was amazing,” she said.
She’s a bit shy, but looks forward to making new friends and teammates inspired by the winning U.S. team, and like others her age who watched in wonder. The young lady who has been playing since she was three years old now has a new goal. “I don’t know, maybe play professionally.”
The girls who traveled to France planned their trip over a year ago and were just hopeful they would get to see the U.S. play. They got to see them in two semifinals and the final game.