That was the word of the week for 34 young women from Somerville Youth Soccer in mid-July, as they embarked on the trip of a lifetime to Spain that took them first to Barcelona and then to Madrid as part of an EF Tours “Girls Empowerment Through Soccer” tour.
A love of soccer and learning brought this group together, but one very special person named Stefi helped make it a “familia” very quickly. EF’s amazing tour director became the star of the trip by leading adventure after adventure and starting each day by playing Shakira’s hit “Waka Waka”, which was the official song for the 2010 Men’s World Cup, when the bus left the hotel. She set the tone for learning, fun, and laughter, and as each day passed, the “familia” grew closer.
The vibrant coast of Barcelona’s beautiful shores provided the perfect backdrop for the beginning of the journey. A visit to fabled Camp Nou and the home of FC Barcelona was followed by a training session with FCB Espanyol, a trip to the famous La Boqueria Market and a bike tour through the streets of the city, and a busy day was capped by a dip in the Mediterranean Sea in the resort town of Lloret de Mar.
There was no rest for “familia” after the first full day, as a high-speed train ride to warm and sunny Madrid afforded the group with a chance to explore a bit of the city before enjoying an afternoon beside the pool. The first of two training sessions with CFF Madrid brought additional skill instruction and scrimmaging, and another busy day that included a visit to the Royal Palace, a bus tour of downtown Madrid, and a visit to Bernabeu (the home of Real Madrid) ended with a flamenco dancing performance that captivated the audience.
The final day in Madrid began with a second training session with CFF Madrid and included a cooking class where “familia” members learned how to prepare the famous Spanish rice dish paella. The group explored more of downtown Madrid and were able to take in the sights and sounds of the city.
Needless to say, it was a jam-packed week that instilled memories of a lifetime. They gained confidence, empowerment, strength, and knowledge. They left with new friends, secret handshakes, and countless stories to tell.
It’s always hard to say goodbye, and it certainly was for the girls to do so with Stefi upon arrival at Madrid International Airport.
But in this case, it wasn’t goodbye—it was ‘see you soon’.
Because that’s how it always is with members of your “familia”.
Thank you to all of the wonderful chaperones: Emily Hadfield, Amanda San Roman, Katie Kang, Brenton Stewart, Lynn Rosedale, and Cheryl Seavey, along with the parents who made the trip with their children: Lucy & Mark McGowan, Wendy Burns, Katie Campbell, and Brenna & Rodney Marable. Many thanks as well to Daisy Manning & Michele Ahouse of EF Tours for all of their help and support over the last two years