Abby Wambach, America’s high-profile soccer star during the July Women’s World Cup, said she was destined for soccer before she was born.
“That’s right; it was my sister Beth who started me on my path to soccer,” Wambach said before demonstrating her skills at Miami’s inaugural Soccer Festival, July 30-31, at the Kendall Soccer Complex.
“When she was 11, Beth got interested with her friends so they got a book on soccer,” Wambach explained. “I wasn’t even born then…but later, looking at that book got me to try the sport myself.”
Wambach’s stellar play climaxed a thrilling Women’s World Cup final as the U.S. Women’s National Team twice had leads erased before falling to a spirited Japanese team on penalty kicks.
Her appearance at the inaugural two-day festival helped draw more than 3,000 spectators along with 500 soccer players and competitors representing youth teams from Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.
“We’re planning to host up to 10,000 or more next year,” said Scott Georgeson, Soccer 5 president. “We had inquiries from as far away as North Carolina and Toronto, Canada.”
Youngest of seven children, Wambach modestly recalled having transferred from a girls soccer league team to a boys team after scoring 27 goals in only three games. Attending Our Lady of Mercy High School in Rochester, she lettered in both soccer and basketball which she credits for her “heading” ability.
“It’s more than ‘using your head,” she grinned. “I attribute any ability to my days playing basketball and learning how to maximize a height advantage with body movement.”
“Soccer’s not simple; it’s hard work,” Wambach emphasized during her appearance on Sunday, July 31, taking the field to demonstrate her header and playing skills.
“The sport itself is difficult to learn,” she advised. “Just be patient and work as hard as you can. That’s how the women on this national team got where they are now.”
Wambach now plays regularly for the magicJack professional soccer team based in Boca Raton.
The two-day festival was presented jointly by the Soccer 5 USA organization and Miami-Dade Parks Foundation that supports special events for the disadvantaged and others to attend summer camps and community recreation programs.