Nine neighborhood girls, Elle, Liv, Roxy, Emma, Pippa, Lisa, Tory, McKenna and Maggie, have qualified for the World Futsal Championships to be held at Walt Disney World’s ESPN Wide World of Sports facility in Florida from August 1 to 4.
The NEU-PDX team of 11 to 13-year-olds earned their way to a berth in the championship round by beating a heavily-favored team from Seattle in the the Rose City Futsal Cup qualifying tournament.
“We were the underdog, but the girls really fought hard and ended up beating the favorites in penalty kicks,” said NEU-PDX coach Andy Frazier. “You could cut the atmosphere with a knife. It was awesome. When this little group of soccer players from Northeast Portland was up against Seattle in the final of a regional tournament, nobody had heard of them and nobody expected to remember them. But then they won. Now we’re headed to Florida and we’ll battle it out for three days against teams from five continents in a crazy quest to become world champions.”
“I’ve never been in a youth game like that before, where you could just feel the air,” Frazier said of the victory. “It was nuts. I’ve known most of these girls since they were starting out in soccer with pop-up nets. They’re a great group of kids and I’m really proud of them.”
Established in 2014, the World Futsal Championships are held each summer and is the largest international youth futsal tournament in the world, giving players the opportunity to be seen by professional coaches and scouts. A total of 86 teams, including 22 international teams from four continents, competed in 2015.
“I think our little team from Northeast Portland has a real chance of becoming the World Champions,” said Frazier.