Tonka United players and Girl Scouts are sharing their love of soccer by hosting a girls sports camp and a soccer clinic for elementary school children Jan. 20-28 in San Carlos, Nicaragua.

Isla Horscroft, a Minnetonka sophomore from Chanhassen, decided she wanted to develop a soccer camp to bring the sport to girls in Nicaragua as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project.

Horscroft recruited her fellow Girl Scout, Grace Robinson, who is also a sophomore at Minnetonka High School and is from St. Louis Park.

Horscroft and Robinson are members of Girl Scout Troop 13193, which is based in St. Louis Park and is led by Betty Shaw, Robinson’s grandmother. Shaw has been on mission trips to Nicaragua and will attend the trip with Elizabeth Horscroft, Will Horscroft, Renee Schubbe and Lisa Robinson.

The girls also recruited their friends who play with them in the Tonka United Soccer Association. They recruited Sarah Schubbe, a sophomore at Minnetonka High School from Minnetonka; Sarah Erickson, a sophomore at Minnetonka High School from Minnetonka; Reese Lovell, a sophomore at Hopkins High School from Golden Valley; and Katelyn Hermanson, a sophomore at Minnetonka High School from Eden Prairie.

“I just really like traveling and soccer so it seemed like the perfect combination,” said Lovell. “Everything about the trip sounded like something I’d be interested in doing.”

“I’ve wanted to visit abroad and take in a new culture and this was the perfect opportunity to do that, while also doing service and to combine it with something that I love to do is a wonderful thing,” said Hermanson.

Horscroft said that women and girls in San Carlos have been unable to develop a soccer league, or even learn the sport, due to a lack of support and supplies. 

“I had heard about some girls in Nicaragua who hadn’t had an opportunity to play on a team sport before,” Horscroft said. “Because we all play soccer and we all love the sport we thought, why can’t we go down and help them and teach them how to play?”

The women currently play on a dusty old peanut farm in San Carlos. In the past, farmers have confiscated the land where they’ve played.

During the week-long trip to Nicaragua, the group will bring and hand out soccer supplies like balls, cleats and goal posts to get these Nicaraguan women and girls started with their own league. Some of these supplies were donated from the Tony Sanneh Foundation in St. Paul, which serves the holistic youth development needs of the increasingly diverse Twin Cities metro area.

“Their hope is by having a dedicated girls team with soccer goals they will be able to appeal to the local authorities,” said Elizabeth Horscroft. “It could possibly have a long lasting effect. If girls never have a chance to play on a team how can you expect them to work together in the future? This is where the skills that girls need for success are being taught and learned. There are so many long-term positive effects of allowing girls to play team sports.”

During their trip, the girls will host three, three-hour soccer clinics. Two clinics will teach girls, ages 14-19, soccer fundamentals, while the other clinic will teach elementary school children about soccer. A few exhibition games will be played and the girls may play against the men’s league in San Carlos.

“We will be teaching them the fundamentals and we hope that by the time we leave, they will be able to play real game,” Horscroft said. “We will teach them passing, shooting and especially team-building exercises because they’ve all never played on a team before but this will hopefully bring them closer together and strengthen their friendships and the team.”

The girls have already Skyped on two occasions with the girls they will teach and Horscroft said that they’re “very excited.” 

Robinson said, “Our point in developing this clinic is to establish something that they will be able to keep sustainable and by the time we leave, they will be able to carry those skills with them and bond together to keep playing.”

The girls also partnered with Project Minnesota-León, an organization that strengthens human and community development through the exchange of people and ideas between Minnesota and León, Nicaragua.

Project Minnesota-León is helping facilitate the trip in Nicaragua by setting the girls up with transportation and will place them with host families.

“I was really happy when we found out that we’re staying with host families because I’ve gone abroad before but I’ve never been able to experience a culture this much before and really see how people live,” Erickson said.

“It’s going to be really cool to meet people from another country and learn about a new culture,” Schubbe added.

All the girls said that they are excited to connect with Nicaraguans over their shared love of soccer.

“We want to really get immersed in the culture while we’re there,” Robinson said. “We know little or no Spanish and that’s is going to be fun to try and communicate without knowing the language and I think the sport will be able to bring us closer together.”

“I think it’s really cool that even though it’s a different country and a different culture, we can still connect through a shared sport,” Hermanson added. “The fact that soccer can break language barriers and cultural barriers is really cool and I’m excited to be able to experience that.”

To learn more on how to help Girl Scout Troop 13193 or to donate, email elizlore@yahoo.com.

Follow Paige Kieffer on Facebook at facebook.com/mnsunsailor.

 

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