While members of another Eastside FC team were bringing a National Championship back to the Eastside, one player from Sammamish and three of her Eastside FC teammates joined a team that traveled to Denmark and Sweden for a pair of international competitions.
Sammamish’s Samantha Bening joined a team of players from around the state with Benson Soccer that took a trip to Europe to compete in the Gothia Cup in Sweden as well as another tournament in Denmark. The team reached the championship game of the tournament in Denmark, which is the largest in the country, and finished in the quarterfinals of the Gothia Cup.
The team defeated squads from Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Germany and the United States during the two tournaments and Bening said after some initial apprehension about a two week-plus stay outside the country and with teammates she barely knew, the excitement of international competition took over.
“I ended up not being homesick,” she said. “I was really excited about meeting the other teams from around the world and trading items with them.”
More than 35,000 players from 75 countries come to Sweden for the Gothia Cup, which included more than 4,000 games in boys and girls soccer.
Bening said off-field activities like sightseeing and amusement park trips created an inclusive and respectful atmosphere among the teams.
“It wasn’t just all soccer,” she said.
While many of her teammates had a more difficult time communicating with players from other countries, Bening said she speaks Spanish and German and was able to enrich her experience through her ability to communicate.
“I connected with a lot of people from Spain,” she said. “It was really fun being able to talk to some people who spoke those languages.”