U.S.-Mongolia Virtual Girls’ Soccer Exchange: Avalanche!
Beginning earlier this year, the Avalanche FC girls’ soccer team of the Arlington, Virginia Soccer Association (under-19/U-19 age group) established a virtual exchange of best practices, insights, and tips on soccer with the members of the Mongolian national girls’ (U-17) and (U-14) soccer teams of the Mongolian Football Federation. Through communication between Avalanche FC Head Coach Matthew Hungerford and U.S. Embassy’s Assistant Public Affairs Officer Ariel Wyckoff, the teams had an Internet based “virtual” conversation about girls’ soccer in English in mid-April. They covered topics ranging from dealing with sexist attitudes by their male peers at school, building team spirit and leadership skills on the field, playing in various types of weather (including snow for the Mongolian girls!), the toughness of training schedules, and the level of travel involved with playing competitively throughout the year. In the end, players from the two programs were able to interact, relate, and laugh with each other as players, students, and most importantly, teenagers… As a sign of goodwill, the players from the Avalanche FC Program had team jerseys delivered to the Mongolian Football Federation via Mr. Wyckoff, last June—for the fourteen girls that were in attendance that snowy morning.