Local soccer team divides in two, makes room on roster for refugees

Posted at 10:52 PM, Aug 21, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-22 00:52:27-04

SALT LAKE COUNTY, Utah -- The Arsenal 2004 girls soccer team decided going for gold during the Adidas Cup wasn’t enough.

Their head coach, Brian Barlow, had the idea to divide the team in half and fill the rosters with refugees, giving them a chance to play competitively.

One challenge stood in their way, as these refugees needed uniforms. The Arsenal 2004 team is made up of players born in 2004, and they gathered together to put on many different fundraisers, even cleaning out garbage cans, to raise enough for the uniforms.

Both Coach Barlow and Sunnyville Center Team Coach Payam Soleimani said they saw a strong impact, on both sides of the team. What was originally an opportunity to help others, also became a teaching point.

The girls learned each others' culture, story, and they even helped one another learn new soccer skills. Both Arsenal teams made it to the championship game of the Adidas Cup. Although only one could claim victory, the local girls on the winning team surprised the refugees, making sure each one had a gold medal to take home.