Soccer Team Wins World Cup Promotion, South Africa Trip

Special to the Falls Church Times

This past soccer season was a season unlike any other for a group of Falls Church-area girls—one in which teamwork took on almost unimaginable meaning.

The girls of Premier AC’s 97 Fusion, a U-12 travel soccer team, not only played soccer — they spent hours each week after soccer practices learning the “Diski” dance — a special dance created for the FIFA 2010 World Cup to be held this summer in South Africa. The dance captures both the culture of South Africa and the moves and rhythm of the game.

Their filmed interpretation of the “Diski” won them 1st place in a Diski Dancing video competition sponsored by South African Tourism –and an 8-day tour of the World Cup’s host nation. The 14 girls will take their trip in late March.

“At the beginning I thought, ‘we won’t win,’ said 11-year-old Rebecca Davis of Falls Church City. The dance moves also “seemed a bit odd at first,” she said. “But as we practiced we got to the point we could even do it without the music.”

When she learned through a text message that her team had won, she screamed. “I then called a teammate,” Davis recalled, “and my teammate was so happy she started crying.”

Stacey King, the team’s coach, learned of the competition in mid-October while perusing the U.S. Youth Soccer Association web site. The contest criteria (to submit about one minute of video, for instance, and to use a specific soundtrack) were simple, and the challenge of working creatively with the dance’s five main moves was enticing.

King’s mind raced.  She envisioned ways of tying together the dance moves to simulate the flow of an international soccer game.  She solicited initial reaction from the girls and their families by email, and then called the team to the Falls Church Community Center to present her ideas in detail.

Together, she and the girls and their parents watched a brief South African video demonstration of the Diski’s five main dance moves, and discussed the hours of teamwork and energy that would be required if they were to stand a chance of winning the competition.

The girls and their families promised their commitment and gave King input about moves and scenes to include and not include in the video.

From then on, through early December, the team practiced for two hours every week, immediately after their team training sessions.  They also practiced for several hours between the games of a fall tournament, in a nearby gym that a parent had arranged to use.

And when it came time to film, they met four times in various locations, including during the snowfall on December 5 and in Washington, D.C., in front of the Lincoln Memorial and in the shadows of the Washington Monument.

“Everybody made it work,” said King. “The parents helped with arranging locations to practice, with filming and editing and other ideas, and with grabbing coats and supplies, and the girls never complained — they were always excited.

“It was a complete and total team effort,” she said.

Evelyn Loeb, Rebecca’s mother and the parent manager of the team, said the girls were so committed to the project that when King came down with the flu before one of the last scheduled soccer/Diski dance practices, “the girls carried it through on their own, directing and going through everything themselves.”

The team’s goal, said King, was for the progression of scenes in the video to represent “the flow and feel” of an international soccer game.

“And I wanted to make sure we represented the feel and culture of South Africa as best we could,” she said.

Viewers hear the South African national anthem at the beginning and see a team photo mimicking the typical “starting 11” photo taken at major games as well as a kick-off.  One scene simulates the often underappreciated role of the goalkeeper, King notes, and almost everything in the dance is done as if each girl has or is about to make contact with a ball.

The video includes a photo of a red “vuvuzela,” a stadium horn commonly blown by fans at South African matches, and shots of the girls sporting the colors of the South African national team (as well as the pattern of the South African flag on their faces).

Almost all of the girls on ’97 Fusion have played together under King’s direction for 2 ½ years.  In addition to Davis, three of the players — Clara Frost, Ella Howard and Annie Washa — are students at Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church City. The other girls attend schools in the greater Falls Church area and nearby areas.

“We’re all from different schools, so [by spending all the extra time together] we all felt so close,” said Caroline Stricker, an 11-year-old Falls Church City resident.

Stricker said she’s looking forward to going on the safari that is part of their South African itinerary, as well as trying new foods and seeing other sights.

She and her teammates, who have continued to meet for indoor training this winter, are learning about South Africa by studying different topics each week, from South Africa’s geography and ethnic makeup to its political history and variety of languages.  They are also working on collecting soccer supplies to distribute to young players who need them.

The girls will visit Cape Town and Johannesburg (including Soweto township, where they will visit a school), and will play a game against a South African youth soccer team. As part of their prize, each girl will be accompanied by one parent.  In several cases, King said, entire families have decided to come along.

South African Tourism partnered for the competition with the U.S. Youth Soccer Association, South African Airways, and Coca-Cola, a World Cup sponsor. The competition garnered entries from all over the United States.

Perhaps ironically for the winning girls, the nickname of the South African national soccer team —“Bafana, Bafana,” which the girls printed on their shirt backs for filming — means “the boys, the boys.”

Indeed, the FIFA 2010 World Cup features only men’s soccer. But the world’s best female soccer players will soon shine in the 6th Women’s World Cup to be played in 2011 in Germany. And in the meantime, the girls of 97 Fusion will travel to South Africa with exposure to and experience in soccer that not too long ago was hard to come by for girls.

Watch the winning video! It is wonderful!

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January 28, 2010 


11 Responses to “Soccer Team Wins World Cup Promotion, South Africa Trip”

  1. Gerald Pressman (Falls Church CITY) on January 28th, 2010 8:20 pm

    A terrific story…and I’m knocked out by the use of Falls Church City. WOW!!

  2. Lou Mauro on January 28th, 2010 11:31 pm

    Neat film. Congratulations. Have a great trip!

  3. Ana on January 29th, 2010 2:53 am

    Great story!=) Have a wonderful trip!

  4. Kathleen Donovan on January 29th, 2010 7:24 am

    Way to go, girls! Congratulations – have an AWESOME trip!

  5. Kathleen Nebeker, City of Falls Church on January 29th, 2010 7:33 am

    This is wonderful. Congratulations! Have a terrific trip.

  6. Alfredo Loeb, Cali, Colombia, South America on January 29th, 2010 4:05 pm

    I am so excited to hear that this girls´ team won the competition — specially for my granddaughter Rebecca Davis and my daughter Evelyn Loeb who have put so much effort and faith. When I visited Washington I saw this team practicing and playing and being a fanatic soccer fan I was absolutely delighted. It is really a great accomplishment for the team and people behind them and for the Falls Church community as well. Viva el futbol !!!!! Congratulations. Alfredo Loeb

  7. Jose, Falls Church on January 30th, 2010 7:58 am

    Awesome job, girls!

  8. Magdalena Valenzuela on February 2nd, 2010 10:51 am

    I love it!, very nice. Congratulations girls. Have fun and enjoy your trip!

  9. Jofre Nieto on February 6th, 2010 1:20 pm

    Congratulations!! Your video is a winner!! South African Tourism, South Arican Airways and Coca Cola did great job in offering this great opportunity to US Youth soccer teams in the USA.

    Enjoy the trip of lifetime…

    JC Bandits
    Diski finalist

  10. Ali (Arlington) on February 18th, 2010 12:51 pm

    I’m a South African living in the US. What an amazing performance girls. You did terrific! I know you’ll represent the US with pride in my home country and have memories to last a lifetime and new friends by the time you come back.

  11. Jessica on March 14th, 2010 9:54 pm

    GREAT video girls!