BETHESDA, Md. (WDVM) – Every year, the Bethesda-Chevy Chase and Whitman high school girls soccer teams face off in the Battle of Bethesda. This year’s matchup took place on Tuesday.
The intense rivalry between the teams goes beyond the pitch for a good cause.
“This game every year we do as a fundraiser for Soccer Without Borders (SWB),” Whitman senior Grace Li said. “To kind of try and give back to the privilege we have and being able to play soccer to those that are less fortunate than us.”
This year is the fourth year of the partnership between the teams and the organization.
“Soccer without borders is a nonprofit in Baltimore that works with newcomer youth, so refugee and immigrant youth, and we provide a lot of support for their families as well,” SWB program manager Kat Sipes said. “And we really use soccer as the hook and the hook or the vehicle to really support them in their transition to the United States.”
Sipes brought four girls from Africa that play on her team in the Baltimore area with her to the Battle of Bethesda Tuesday. They were honored on the field prior to the game and watched from the sidelines.
“It is really fun and exciting because like we’re on one of the soccer teams,” 16-year-old Leila Makine, who is from Sudan said. “So like we can watch the game and learn new skills.”
Makine and her teammate Laila Raly spoke to WDVM before the game. Raly, who was born in Burundi and lived in Congo before coming to America, said that she grew up playing soccer, but never had the resources to play for an organized team.
“Back home in Africa, we used to play soccer, but we never play like in the league or it’s just for fun at home,” Raly said.
Whitman and BCC raised more than $6,700 for Soccer Without Borders and provided a special experience for their visitors.
“You get to meet new people from like different countries and we get to learn new cultures and it made it easier for us to communicate with others,” Makine said.
The experience also helped the Bethesda based high school soccer players learn about other cultures.
“It’s a really great game,” Bethesda-Chevy Chase senior Ally Jones said. “I love it and I’m sure they do too. Soccer is a true source of happiness, so I feel like they’ve gotten some of that as well.”