Near three dozen young female athletes – from beginners to advanced – were in for a surprise when visiting Chicago’s largest indoor turf soccer field in North Austin. The participants of Black Star’s soccer programs got an opportunity to practice with the national team stars Tierna Davidson and Alyssa Naeher.
Nelly, a 9-year-old player, said meeting them was a great experience and a big surprise.
“This will be an unforgettable moment,” she said. She has played soccer since age 3 because “it makes sense” to her.
“I just fell in love with it,” she said.
Melanie, a new visitor to North Austin’s soccer fields, also got to meet professional soccer players for the first time.
“It was amazing, I feel like this is my first time ever seeing real-life soccer players,” she said. Meeting them was “exciting” because she said she hopes to be like them one day.
The two U.S. Women’s National Soccer players joined the young athletes in their practice, demonstrating some of their own soccer drills.
Later, the duo joined the group in unveiling a 25-foot coaching mural created by Chicago artist Dwight White.
“It represents a lot about soccer and I like how they added a bunch of details about soccer, like in small little bits,” said Isabel, who practices soccer at Intentional Sports on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
She was thrilled about meeting Davidson and Naeher for the first time and getting her soccer ball autographed by them.
“It was so awesome, honestly,” Isabel said.
The mural was co-created by U.S. soccer players Crystal Dunn, Naomi Girmo and Lynn Williams, who supported this project to make soccer more accessible to all young players.
Located at Intentional Sports outside wall, it includes soccer drills and instructions so Black and Brown young players can practice anytime. Mural sponsors include Allstate and the U.S. Soccer Federation.
Natalia, who has played soccer for two years, said she likes the sport because she can meet new friends and “get better at it.” She will likely come back to the mural because she can practice her passes and her kicks.
“I think other kids should come to practice, cause like, it gives you a whole lot of advice, and like, it’s just a whole bunch,” she said. “And it’s amazing,”