The U.S. Women’s National Soccer team may be facing Japan Sunday in the Women’s World Cup final in Frankfurt, but just three days ago a San Bruno soccer team embarked on a world tour of its own.
The San Bruno Quakes 14-and-under girls soccer team left for a cultural exchange trip to Germany Thursday, where the 19-player roster will experience the sights that the national team has seen during the last three weeks of competition—without the added pressure to bring a title back to the states after 12 years, of course.
The girls are traveling with coach Joaquin Rodriguez, manager James Estelita, co-manager Mike Baldonado, along with nine other chaperones.
Each player needed to raise about $3,000 during a two-year period, and the Quakes received help from the San Bruno Lions Club and American Youth Soccer Organization. The team also raised money by selling fireworks, chocolate and doing carwashes, among other things.
While the team started at 25 players, it has gone down to 19 after a few girls weren’t able to commit to the expenses.
This tradition started more than two decades ago when soccer teams of different ages were assembled for a trip to Germany every two years. The program faced a temporary hiatus from 1999 to 2008, picking back up in 2009 with the same motto: Friendship through soccer.
This year's trip to the old continent will bring the Quakes more than just a taste of European soccer. The cultural exchange also provides plenty of cultural experiences where players learn about German culture, visit museums, castles and other attractions.
The Quakes will also attend a professional women’s soccer team game in Werlte as part of a one-day excursion.
Players will visit Westerstede for the first week, Werlte the next and Assamstadt the remaining four days, with their last day being July 31.
The Quakes will participate in a series of one-day tournaments that will include games going for 15-minute halves.
“Soccer there is very different. They play a very structured, methodical style,” Estelita said. “Most of these girls here have been together for a year and a half. They are gonna have fun there.”
A 19-and-under boys team from Westerstede will be coming to San Bruno in exchange for a week, starting on July 23. The Estelita family will host them for a few days of their stay.
AYSO and the coaches hope to keep this tradition going, this time expanding to other countries as a 12-and-under boys team is planning to do an exchange in Spain for two weeks in 2013. Though specifics haven’t yet been resolved, the intent to make it happen is there, Estelita said.