FIFA World Cup trophy visits St. Croix
Published: October 17, 2013
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ST. CROIX - Dreams loomed large at Rohlsen Airport on Wednesday afternoon as dozens of local kids - many sporting their soccer outfits - lined up for a chance to get a good look at the FIFA World Cup trophy.
The trophy stopped on St. Croix during a world tour that will span more than 92,000 miles on the way to the FIFA World Cup 2014 tournament, which starts June 12 in Brazil.
St. Croix was one of the stops on the Caribbean leg of the World Cup Trophy Tour, sponsored by Coca-Cola and FIFA. FIFA, which stands for Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is the international governing body for soccer.
The trophy travels on its own plane and spent several hours on Wednesday at Rohlsen.
A reception - complete with popcorn for the kids - was set up in an airport room and local children and teens from the American Youth Soccer Organization, or AYSO, filled the room, along with some older soccer players and fans.
"They're excited," Dave Rivers, a board member and coach with AYSO, said of the children. "They're really pumped. They all wanted to get out of school early. I think it's pretty cool to see the World Cup."
Lt. Gov. Gregory Francis and Senate President Shawn-Michael Malone spoke at a small ceremony. Francis unveiled the trophy in its glass case before the children lined up to get a closer look and have their picture taken with it.
"It's cool. Really neat," said Croix Hess-Rivers, 9, as he waited for his chance to get up close to the trophy. "I've never seen it. I'm really a big fan of soccer."
Hess-Rivers, along with teammate Jared Doran, 10, said they would like to be professional soccer players and see the trophy again in that capacity.
"I think that's awesome," Doran said.
Hillaren Frederick, president of the USVI Soccer Association, said it was great to have the trophy on St. Croix, even for a little while.
"It's a dream come true," he said, adding that he hopes seeing it inspires local children to stay with the sport. "I hope that they will continue to play the sport because soccer is a sport that's growing and the sky's the limit."
Misah Edwards, 15, is also in AYSO and hopes to play either soccer or basketball professionally.
"It's a cool experience," she said. "It's a once-in-a-lifetime to get to a picture with the World Cup trophy."
The USVI Soccer Association is currently in the process of selecting a contractor to build a soccer stadium and training fields on 12 acres of government land it is leasing in Estate Bethlehem, Frederick said. FIFA is funding the project in stages.
- Contact Joy Blackburn at 714-9145 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.