Competing on the global stage alongside the world’s elite will undoubtedly be of immense value to the development of players at FIFA U-20 Women's World Cup. It is also said that travel broadens the mind, providing the chance to grow from new experiences.
On the playing front, USA go into Japan 2012 defending a remarkable record, having suffered just two defeats across the five previous editions. However, off the field they have already had the opportunity to experience new horizons during their brief time in Japan.
Ahead of their opening encounter against Ghana on Monday, the players and staff took time out of their schedule to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, the site where the atom bomb exploded in 1945.
USA captain Julie Johnston laid a wreath at the park’s memorial as the players paid their respects to the fallen. “I think it was important to go to the site as a team,” said Johnston. “It was very emotional and a great thing to show the people our respect. It is important to look back to understand the country where we will be based for the coming week and to understand the history.”
Other players were equally moved by the poignancy of their experience in the heart of the southern city.
“We saw the memorials and the museum, and it touches the heart to see what happened and how the country responded,” said midfielder Sarah Killion.
Fellow midfielder Morgan Brian said: “It was a good experience and I’m glad we could pay our respects to the city and country.”
USA will turn their attention to matters on the pitch over the coming days as the countdown to the tournament reaches its final stages. Victors at the inaugural tournament in 2002, and again four years ago in Chile, the Stars and Stripes will play their second match in Hiroshima against China PR on Thursday, before completing their Group D commitments with a potentially epic meeting against Germany in Miyagi.