Young women from Utah lend soccer expertise in Nigeria

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LOGAN, Utah -- A group of young women from Logan recently traveled to Nigeria to lend their soccer expertise to an international goodwill effort.

Utah-based “Save-A-Thon For Africa” was behind the project, and 12 young women from the Logan area with soccer expertise traveled to teach their skills to kids in villages and orphanages in Nigeria.

Adam Miles, founder of Save-A-Thon For Africa, said he was glad to have their help.

“This was a very successful, great trip; I’m super proud of all these young ladies,” Miles said.

Friends and family welcomed the girls home on Wednesday. Miles said the trip helped children in the far-away country.

“Shared with those kids there, these girl’s love and passion, not just for soccer, but for life as well, in the hopes that they would be motivated to make something more of themselves and know that someone 8,000 miles away cares about them,” Miles said.

Miles said his foundation is working to build an academy in Africa over the course of the next three or four years. He said it will focus on scholarship as well as soccer. He said they hope to continue offering clinics, like the one these girls participated in, until they reach that goal.

Tabitha Smith traveled with the group, and she said the kids they visited had talent.

“Teams that actually play together, that are actual teams, they knew a lot about soccer and how to play and they were absolutely amazing,” Smith said.

She said the kids in villages often had soccer skills but didn’t always know all of the rules.

“We got to teach them a lot of stuff, but I know, I bet, I know that we learned a lot more from them than they learned from us,” she said.

Brandon Smith also made the trip and said it had a profound impact.

“It was life changing,” Brandon Smith said. “We touched and changed a lot of lives while we were over there, but none of them will be touched or influenced like we were. It changes your complete outlook on life.”

Miles said he will return to Africa in the next few weeks to continue working on the Bridges Cup, a soccer tournament scheduled for this summer. The winning teams will travel to Utah in the fall to play soccer teams in the U.S.

"I believe, and this trip validated, that when you put hard things in front of young American women, that they rise to the occasion. There is just no question,” Miles said.

For more information about Save-A-Thon For Africa, click here.

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