Singapore women footballers go on US trip to learn about youth development

The girls were chosen as part of a goodwill mission and had the opportunity to see first-hand top women players in action, like US star Alex Morgan

Through the SportsUnited Sports Grant Programme, the USA International Centre hosted a delegation of women footballers from Singapore earlier this month. 

SportsUnited is an international exchange program of the USA Department of State's Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA), which aims to help youth around the world learn how to translate athletic success to life skills.

The delegation, made up of Singaporeans from 14 to 20 years old, were specifically chosen for the trip as part of a goodwill mission on behalf of the US Embassy and had the opportunity to see first-hand the structure of the youth development programs in the US.

The group visited American professional women's team Portland Thorns FC,in Oregon before making their way to California to explore San Francisco and meet with faculty members at Stanford University.

They also had the opportunity to visit Portland’s team at the JELD-WEN field and watch their match against FC Kansas City. 

Portland cruised to a 4-3 victory with US international Alex Morgan grabbing a brace to add to goals from Courtney Wetzel and Danielle Foxhoven.

The grant for this trip was initiated by Karen Willoughby, programme director of the International Centre, who felt the trip could not have come at a better time with the creation of the new women's league, which allowed the Singapore girls to see some of the top female players in action. 

Earlier in the year, Willoughby and two other coaches, Janine Szpara and Anna Shortt, had gone on a 10-day visit to Singapore on an exchange programme.

They gave a special coaching session to the Special Olympics team, players from the junior colleges and even visited the children from the Jamiyah Children’s Home orphanage. 

Their visit was in line with ECA’s mission to increase mutual understanding between the people in the US and other countries by means of educational and cultural exchanges that assist in the development of peaceful relations.

ECA serves as part of the Public Affairs arm of the US Department of State and through a public-private partnerships and tax payers funding the bureau, manages a host of professional, academic, cultural and athletic exchanges.