June 15, 2010
DEKALB, Ill. -
This summer NIU women's soccer senior Mo Smunt had a unique opportunity to go on a mission trip to Chile with her Charlotte Lady Eagles W-League Team. With support from family and friends, Smunt and the Lady Eagles were able to raise money to be able to go on a 10-day mission trip to Chile. From May 24- June 2, the Lady Eagles were not only able to play soccer compete against teams from South America in beautiful stadiums, but were also able to host soccer clinics and build relationships with children of missionary families in Chile.
"It was a blessing to be there," Smunt said. "It was amazing to reach out to the community, and to see how happy they were to just have us there. It made me so thankful for what I have, and the opportunities I was given. The kids didn't have as much, as far material possessions, as we have in the U.S., but they had soccer and the love of the game. And it just goes to show that with soccer, money doesn't matter, as long as you are able to do what you love."
With her Charlotte team, the Huskie defender participated in soccer clinics through which she helped teach soccer skills to youth in Chile. At the clinics, members of the Lady Eagles also shared testimonies about their varying soccer experiences with one another and the children. Throughout the clinic, the team was also able to talk, share stories, and build relationships.
"I really enjoyed the clinics," Smunt said. "At times there was a little bit of a language barrier, but everyone was able to play soccer, so it was very easy to find a common ground despite the different languages. It was amazing to see everyone come together through the game of soccer. I am so glad that I had the opportunity to experience that."
While abroad, Smunt and the Lady Eagles also played in four competitions. The Lady Eagles faced the Universidad de Las Americas, Santiago Morning, Universidad Catolica, and the Coquimbo All-Star team.
"I was so fulfilled travelling to Chile," Smunt said. "We played the Coquimbo All-Star team at their World Cup Stadium, and that is just not something that every soccer player gets to experience. The other games we played, the soccer fields were in the mountains. It was beautiful be able to play in a place where you could see the mountains behind the stadium. All I could think was about how lucky I was to be there."
Smunt was lucky enough to join with people from across the United States in her missionary trip to Chile. Players and staff came together from a multitude of different cities and states to reach out to youth in Chile through soccer. Travelling with about half of her Charlotte Lady Eagles team, Smunt was also joined by members of the W-League staff.
"People came together from all over the U.S." Smunt said. "I formed relationships with these people that I know will last for a lifetime. We bonded through the clinics and through competition and it is amazing how close we became in just ten days."
While Smunt and the Lady Eagles spent the majority of their time on the soccer field, they were able to take a break to experience the local culture. Within Chile, Smunt traveled to both La Serena and Santiago and was able to explore and experience Chile outside of the game of soccer.
Smunt will continue to play with the W-League Charlotte Lady Eagles this summer, before returning to DeKalb for her senior season with the Huskies. Smunt and the Huskies will kick off their 2010 schedule on Aug. 15 when they travel to Milwaukee, Wis. for their season opener.