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Sports: A Noozhawk Partnership with Santa Barbara Athletic Round Table, The Lab, and American Riviera Bank

Santa Barbara United Girls 14U Soccer Team to Play in Norway Cup

Thirteen girls from Santa Barbara, Goleta, Carpinteria and Solvang will participate in games in Oslo and experience life in a different culture.

Santa Barbara United team members are, back row left to right, Gabrielle Goss, Une Solheim, Amber Holland, Hannah Ball, Katarina Rocha, Michelle Goss, Meghan Grajeda and Tiana Bonn, front row left to right, Jordan Corry, Sydney Read, Adaezia Hill, Natalee Yamasaki, Erin Graf and Carolyn Vance. Teammate Sigrid Kleveland is not pictured. (Edward Bonn photo)

Santa Barbara United, a soccer organization of 12- to 14-year-old girls, is the only U.S. team to enter the world’s largest youth soccer tournament, the Norway Cup. The team will travel to Norway from July 20 to Aug. 2 for cultural exchange with host families in Lillehammer and then on to Oslo for the tournament.

Thirteen girls from Solvang, Goleta, Santa Barbara and Carpinteria will train and bond and learn about Norway from now to departure for what surely will be an opportunity of a lifetime for these young girls and their families.

Two players, Sigrid Kleveland and Une Solheim of Lillehammer, Norway, have been living in teammates’ home and training with the team in Santa Barbara this summer.

Last year, the Norway Cup included 30,000 participants ages 13 to 19 from more than 30 countries, making up 1,500 teams.

These young people not only play soccer, they also exchange pins, teach each other how to count or recite the alphabet in their languages, share their dances and songs — in essence establish the foundation for friendship and cross cultural understanding.

In a summer of the Olympic Games, in this presidential election year, nothing could be more important than the opportunity for young people to play and share with their counterparts from all over the world. 

Operating under the nonprofit American Youth Soccer Organization umbrella, the founders of Santa Barbara United envisioned, when they fielded the first team last summer, a cultural exchange experience that would foster new relationships and new ties that would last a lifetime.

The goal is to raise $50,000 to cover all costs for the 13 players. All donations are 100 percent tax deductible. Checks should be made payable to AYSO Region 122-Cultural Exchange and sent care of Daniel Corry, 4608 Via Roblada, Santa Barbara, CA 93110.

Melinda Staveley is the grandmother of Santa Barbara United team member Adaezia Hill.

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