By Tyra Wilkes, Special to the AFRO

Caption: Children playing at Tubman Elementary Soccer Field, a soccer camp site.

Nine DC SCORES alumni were honored with a D.C. Council proclamation for their participation in the Street Child World Cup held during the 2018 World Cup tournament in Moscow, Russia.

The group of teen girls who continue to play soccer through DC SCORES affiliate, Open Goal Project, traveled to the international tournament as the first U.S.A team to compete.

Children playing at Tubman Elementary Soccer Field, a soccer camp site. (Courtesy Photo)

The DC SCORES non-profit has helped over 20,000 local children—all of whom have experienced or been at risk for homelessness—since its inception in 1994, aligning with their goal to create neighborhood teams that give kids in need the confidence and skills to succeed on the playing field, in the classroom and in life.

The opportunity to participate in the Street Child World Cup in Moscow was made possible by the National Network for Youth, which sought out an American team to participate in the 2018 games, and sponsored by DC United and Adidas, who provided the girls with warm-up gear, shoes, practice jerseys, shin guards and gear bags.

“To be a teenage girl growing up in inner city Washington, and all of a sudden to be whisked off in this whirlwind of events with help from DC United and Adidas and other companies, that really rallied behind them, and to go over and represent America on this big stage, I can’t imagine how good of an experience it’s going to be.” said Michael Holstein, director of marketing and communications for DC SCORES.

For many of the girls, this was their first time traveling outside of D.C., and, though they didn’t win the title, their experience wasn’t limited to the playing field. The team celebrated a 4-1 win over Mexico and participated in peer-to-peer activities, forums, and presentations by professional soccer players, coaches, and community leaders.

Team U.S.A  is set to be honored by the United Nations this month.