From soccer to sightseeing

Published 5:30 pm Thursday, August 18, 2005

By By ERIKA PICKLES / Vigilant/Argus
NILES - "Their MTV was not like ours. They didn't have shows like Pimp My Ride and their music was not like it is here," Brea Eden said about her recent trip to Holland.
But Brea didn't travel to the Netherlands to audition for a new MTV Vee Jay spot or try her hand at singing, she was chosen along with 430 other athletes from the United States to travel to Holland recently to compete on the U.S. Soccer team.
It's all part of the People to People Sports Ambassadors Youth Friendship Games, which were held in Holland and Australia.
The People to People program encourages meaningful exchanges between young people of different cultures, through official meetings, educational site visits and athletic competition, all of which create deep cultural understanding, probe a nation's history and launch long-lasting friendships.
As they travel under the banner of People to People, Sports Ambassadors represent the best of our country: hope, courage, openness, and a love of peace.
President Dwight D. Eisenhower founded People to People in 1956 in an effort to bring citizens around the world together to work toward world peace. Since that time eight presidents have served as honorary chairman of People to People.
Since 1963, over 200,000 individuals have safely traveled the globe on Ambassador Programs.
The Sports Ambassadors break down barriers of culture and promote international friendships as they compete in tournaments, as well as visit famous sites and interact with student athletes and their families.
Brea, who resides in Niles, was recommended by an anonymous person to be considered for this opportunity. Her teachers also gave her great references, which made her eligible to go.
Once in Holland, Brea, along with the other U.S. players, were split up into six different 14-year-old teams representing the United States.
Brea's team suffered a loss in the championship game to Sweden. She ended the game with two goals and four assists.
"The competition was a lot different. We played some pretty tough teams from Sweden and we had to play against the other United States teams. We also played a Dutch team and the Netherlands home team," Brea said.
That was only a small majority of the teams involved. Overall, 30 countries brought their best players to the Netherlands to compete.
However, playing some pretty intense soccer games wasn't all the teams did during their stay.
"We did a lot of sightseeing. We visited a wooden shoe factory and I bought some shoes. We visited a cheese factory and we also went to Anne Frank's house, which was really neat because we just read that book last year in school,"Brea said.
Brea, who is also involved in basketball and volleyball, will be entering her freshman year at Edwardsburg High School. Though she does enjoy playing other sports, her favorite is soccer.
"She's been playing soccer for a long time. She's played for Echo, the Optimist Soccer League, Edwardsburg Youth Soccer and Michiana Soccer," Don Eden, Brea's father said.
"She's just an all around athlete though. She does enjoy basketball and volleyball and she has won a few golf tournaments, but I think she can really go somewhere with soccer."
While Brea enjoyed her stay in Holland and everything she was able see, she also enjoyed meeting people from other countries and agreed that they all have very different lifestyles.
Brea also stated that it was "very cool" to visit another country and meet so many new people. She said their lifestyle is a lot different than ours is.
"They have huge houses over there and families share homes. There are no small houses around."
And the food?
"I think our food is a lot better. They put mayonnaise on their french fries and eat a lot of chicken. I did eat the chicken, but I don't like mayo so I didn't eat the fries," Brea said.
Brea also said that they don't have a lot of cars in Holland, people ride bikes everywhere or take the bus, like she did.
"They should have a show called Pimp My Bike."
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