A group from our Girls Academy spent this year’s International Trip in France. It was the perfect time to head to the nation, as the 2019 Women’s World Cup was just entering the final stages of the tournament. On their agenda was everything from visits to landmark locations in France to tickets to the World Cup Semi-Final and Final matches.
On Friday, June 28th the group set off to John F. Kennedy airport for their departure. The girls were even able to watch the USA knock out the home nation, France, prior to taking off. The first stop of two locations in France was Paris. While there, the girls explored the city through activities such as boat rides on the Seine River and visits to both the Louvre and Montmartre.
The trip, of course, had a nice balance between cultural activity and hard work. Thanks to the coaching staff, the girls were able to get in a couple of training sessions before their friendly against the local side, Stade De Reims.
When Paris was all said and done, the group took off for their second and final location, Lyon. They took a high speed train to Lyon for one of the marquee events on the itinerary, the World Cup Semi-Final between the USA and England. For good measure, they were also able to watch the Semi Final between the Netherlands and Sweden.
In Lyon, the team had two more friendlies with one match was against AC Avignon and the other against FC Annecy. The group won both matches, making their record three for three on the trip.
Before departing home, the girls had a chance to participate in something very special. Our group had tickets to the World Cup Final between the USWNT and the Dutch.
Instead of summarizing this final part of the trip in detail, we encourage you to read a creative piece written by a player who was on the trip, Simrun Bose (G2001/2002 Blue). She touches on the World Cup Final and much more. Enjoy!
You can find her incredibly described summary below:
“We sit in rows in JFK, eyes glued to the television screen. Soccer bags scatter the surrounding area - a sure hazard for those unfortunate travelers near us. No sound comes from the TVs, and a tense nervousness plagues our little area. Through eager eyes we stare at the screen as our idols of the USWNT face France in the quarterfinal of the World Cup. We had watched the first half on various phones as we maneuvered our way through security, but now in the comfort of a gate, we take in the rest. When Megan Rapinoe scores her second of the game in the 65th doubling the lead to 2-0, we erupt in screams of joy and pride. We’re a group of around 40 American teenagers, loud and full of energy, and very much in love with the USWNT, about to enter a country that we just eliminated from the World Cup. I fear they’ll hate us. Spoiler: I was wrong.
Our time in France was nothing short of amazing. Considering we were there for only about 9 full days, we managed to fit in quite the agenda. We flew into Paris and immediately the activities commenced. My personal highlights include a boat ride down the Seine, the early morning walks my friends and I would take exploring the city (we even navigated French public transportation!), and a venture out to Montmartre - though described on Google as simply “a large hill in Paris,” I can assure you that it is much more. One day after visiting the Louvre, my friend Andie and I, itching to get some touches on a ball, decided to take on a project for the trip of filming ourselves juggling in various places throughout Paris and Lyon. Another of my projects was filming teammates sleeping on the bus and putting it all together in a compilation made complete with music. Some may call it weird, I call it art.
On our fourth day, we took a high speed train from Paris to Lyon. Lyon, a smaller city than Paris, held a charming low key environment. In the Lyon area, we visited a medieval village (unexpected, but cool), a chocolate factory, and had our own trainings and games. But as expected, the once in a lifetime opportunity to attend both semi final matches and the final of the World Cup were most definitely the highlight. I don’t think it ever fully hit me that I was really there; the experience was incredibly surreal. Watching the women I so deeply admire play made me incredibly grateful, and the energy of the stadium was overwhelming in the best way. There were moments of anxiety before penalties and after injuries, moments of collective holding of breath and heartbreak, and moments of brilliance when the stadium would erupt in screams and hollers. When the final whistle of the 2019 World Cup blew, I looked to my right and amidst fireworks and drums and endless cheering, my friend was crying silent tears of pure happiness.
To conclude, I’m going to share a moment from the trip that not only completely obliterated my fear that the French wouldn’t enjoy us Americans, but also made me realize, as cliche as it sounds, the power soccer has to unite people. We had just won our second match 3-1 against a local team, FC Annecy, from Annecy, a town near the Swiss border. The day had already been one of my favorite - we had spent it at Lake Annecy, swimming and tanning, and later exploring the streets of the city dotted with colorful buildings and unrivaled ice cream. As we walk out of our locker room post match, we hear music and shouting from next door, the locker room of the opposing team. It sounds fun! We stand outside the door, hesitant, each of us wanting to go in, but also scared to knock. Finally a brave soul knocks and a French girl opens up. Before I know it I’m pulled inside the locker room, entering, in a sense, a mosh pit of sweaty soccer girls jumping around and dancing to a song I’ve never heard. At one point I take a French flag from a girl, whose name I later learn is Medhina, and hold it up proudly. The French girls are ecstatic, and so are we. To FC Annecy, it didn’t matter that they had just lost to us. In a matter of minutes we had gone from opponents to friends, separated by a language barrier but united in this locker room by a shared love of the game but also just because at the end of the day we’re teenage girls who like to have fun.”