SALT LAKE CITY -- Twelve teenage soccer players from Utah went on a trip of a lifetime to India.
The team went with "Goals for Girls," a program that connects girls from different countries to teach life skills on how to change their own lives, and the communities they live in.
The first part of their trip was spent with Slum Soccer, where they learned what life was like for a young girl in India.
“We both like playing soccer,” said program participant Maddie Jones. “But they can’t really do the things we can do here, like go to the movies or go shopping with friends.”
Sage Nelson, another program participant, agreed.
“I’m going to graduate. I’m going to go to college, have a career,” said Nelson. “But over there girls aren’t really expected to have an education and to finish it.”
Next, the players flew to Delhi for the Leadership Summit. They taught leadership skills and created community challenge projects.
“It was all about having the opportunity to see how sport develops leadership qualities within your life,” said Jackie Skinner, operations director at Goals for Girls. “With those leadership qualities we can go back into our communities and create change, and we really can do that. The moments where you saw that light switch in their brains of, ‘wow, there really is something I can do about this,’ those were the most beautiful moments for me.”
But it wasn’t only the girls in India who left different.
“The little things that they have are like the biggest things,” said program participant McKayla Murchison. “I went to one of the pen pals houses, and she said my house may be small but it’s a palace to me, which I think is amazing because usually, I’m not thankful for the things that I have when I have like everything compared to them."
According to Nelson, she came home with a goal.
“Coming back from India I know that I want to make the world a better place, not just for myself or my future generations, but for everyone involved,” said Nelson.
Over the next year, 14 projects will be implemented, ranging from gender equality in school to cyber bullying, to preventing early school dropout.