Six gals from a local youth travel team are making their debut in a national soccer event.
When Walter Stewart created the Anderson Monarchs Girls’ Soccer Club 12 years ago, he never envisioned one day he would be taking some of his players to Orlando, Fla., for a national competition.
But, later today, Stewart, six of his players and some of their parents will arrive in Walt Disney World with a chance to showcase their skills at the Kick It 3v3 Soccer World Championship. The 12-and-under squad will play at least four games, plus playoffs, in the event that runs through Monday. The bracket also includes teams from Colorado and North Carolina.
“We would love to win it, but we want to be competitive,” Stewart said. “We also are going primarily to have fun.”
Each side has three players on the field with three subs. Games consist of two, 12-minute halves or the first squad to reach 12 goals, whichever comes first. There are no timeouts and the game clock does not stop during play. Matches can end in a tie, except in the playoff rounds.
The Monarchs, an African-American female travel program, qualified for the event last summer by winning the Eastern Pennsylvania Regional in Lancaster. Making the trip are: Jlon Flippens, of 24th and Wolf streets; Brianna Banks, of 23rd Street and Snyder Avenue; Kahlaa Cannady, of North Philly; Kiya Wilson, of Mount Airy; Shynelle Fry of Overbrook; and Alasia Betty of Sharon Hill.
Although the team calls South Philadelphia home, practicing mostly at 24th and Jackson streets, the girls come from all over the city thanks to strong word-of-mouth surrounding the program. It doesn’t get much bigger than being nominated for the 2008 Sports Illustrated Sportsmen of the Year Award, but Stewart and his players, who joined the likes of the New York Giants, lost out on the honor to Olympic champion Michael Phelps.
“It’s unbelievable,” Stewart said of the national recognition. “Here we were the only non-professional team nominated. It was very prestigious for us.”
Today, the Monarchs provide some 60 to 70 young females the chance to play soccer through intramural or travel programs. The travel teams age range is 9 to 16.
This weekend, six of those girls are looking forward to putting the program on the national youth soccer map.
Being kids, the group also has some time set aside to enjoy all the rides, shows and characters at the theme parks.
“I think they’re pretty excited,” Stewart said of the girls taking the trip. “Some have never been on a plane before, so they’re excited about that.”
When commenting on a particularly impressive play for ESPN’s SportsCenter, Dan Patrick often lauded its doer by opining “You can’t stop him; you can only hope to contain him.” If he could see Jlon Flippens in action, the sportscaster would not only have to make a pronoun correction but also likely ditch the second sentiment. Thanks to a blend of great anticipation, size and speed, the 15-year-old has become a soccer dynamo, with her 52-goal season helping Penn Charter School to capture two elite titles.
Walter Stewart teaches enthusiastic fourth graders at Germantown’s The DePaul Catholic School, so he often proffers praise. As the head coach of the West Passyunk-based Soccer Sisters United Inc., he has become the recipient of rampant renown, leading what many laud as the nation’s first and only competitive soccer club for inner city African-American girls to numerous titles and doing so without monetary compensation.
Rain rushed the Soccer Sisters United Soccer Club off Smith Playground, 2100 S. 24th St., Friday evening, sending 17 sets of talented legs scampering. Securing shelter mattered more than converting kicks for one night, but the nation next year will learn the girls have forged quests with setting and netting literal and figurative goals.
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