City Football Club (“City FC®”) may be a grassroots program, but on Sunday, May 3, City FC® went all way to the top of the national game.
Pia Sundhage, head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, joined City FC® players, coaches and staff at the Maryland SoccerPlex for a special one-hour question-and-answer opportunity ahead of the Washington Freedom’s 3-3 draw with the St. Louis Athletica.
Coach Sundhage, a former Swedish international who finished sixth in the voting for FIFA Women’s Player of the Century, warmly received and answered questions from her City FC® hosts and posed for several photographs with the group.
“This was a tremendous thrill,” said City FC® Program Director and Coach Dan Driscoll. ”It’s rare a thing to have the undivided attention of a coach and player like Coach Sundhage. She was so warm and genuine with our kids and their families, and her responses and comments will undoubtedly stick with our kids throughout their careers.”
Though thunderstorms washed out plans for a clinic and scrimmage scheduled to coincide with Coach Sundhage’s appearance at one of the SoccerPlex’s immaculate training pitches, Maryland SoccerPlex Executive Director Trish Heffelfinger arranged for the City FC® group to gather at the covered porch in front of the SoccerPlex’s indoor facility.
After their chat with Coach Sundhage, City FC®’s families made their way into the SoccerPlex’s Championship Stadium, courtesy of free tickets provided by Marc Dombek of the Washington Freedom and DC Stoddert Soccer, Inc., City FC®’s parent organization. Coach Sundhage made the trip to Washington from her native Sweden in order to evaluate some of her USWNT players like the Freedom’s Abby Wambach and Athletica’s Hope Solo and Lori Chalupny. Top international opponents like the Freedom’s Homare Sawa of Japan and Athletica’s Daniela of Brazil were also competing. The match proved to be a thriller, with the Freedom overcoming a late two-goal deficit to salvage a 3-3 tie.
“For most players, the chance to interact with and learn from a national-level coach like Coach Sundhage is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” noted Driscoll. ”This was definitely a truly special moment for City FC®, and for many of us, a meeting with a personal hero.”
City Football Club (“City FC®”), a program of DC Stoddert Soccer, was established in 2007 to provide District youth with a curriculum combining excellent soccer coaching and first-rate mentorship and college preparation. City FC® is organized exclusively for charitable purposes as an educational non-profit. Its objective is to bring together the City’s youth for educational and recreational opportunities, including but not limited to soccer.