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Florida & Florida International hosted a soccer clinic for 80 from the Girls Place today.

Thursday August 14, 2014Rivalry put aside as Gators & Panthers join together for soccer clinic for area youth

Gainesville, Fla.

Florida & Florida International hosted a soccer clinic for 80 from the Girls Place today.

By Michelle Provenzano, Gator Communications assistant


GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For one day, the in-state rivalry between Florida and Florida International was put on hold.

Florida vs Florida International

Exhibition Match

When: Thursday, Aug. 14 at 7 p.m.

Where: James G. Pressly Stadium

Admission is free!


Pictures from today’s UF-FIU Girls Place Soccer Clinic

Photos by Tim Casey

Before they face each other tonight at 7 p.m. for an exhibition match, the Gators and the Panthers came together to teach their love of the game to 80 of Gainesville’s Girls Place girls at James G. Pressly Stadium on Friday morning.

The girls went through a series of drills under the summer sun with the Gators and Panthers working as the head of their groups.

Stations were set up, and as the girls rotated from group to group, one person instantly caught the eyes of Gainesville’s young ones — Gators midfielder Pamela Begić.

“There were a lot of back rides, and a lot of hugging,” Begic said. “I loved hanging out with the kids, and they all seemed to enjoy playing the game.”

As the girls ran, jumped, and danced on the field, it brought some nostalgia to FIU defender Nikki Rios.

“It brings back a lot of memories just watching the kids play,” Rios said. “I just remember when we would get in little huddles together and kick the ball right to each other like it was the best thing in the world.

“It’s awesome to see these girls play and have fun.”

Ashleigh Williams was one of the participants that learned a lot about the game.

Williams said she learned how to dribble, head butt, and play the ball to other girls. She said she really enjoyed playing red light, green light with the soccer ball in her group.

Hailey Scarborough was excited to be with the Gators, and screamed a “Go Gators!” as the event ended.

Romiya Thomas, however, thought highly of both team’s leadership skills.

“I enjoyed playing with the teams because they all had a positive attitude and we had teamwork,” Thomas said.

Both the Gators and the Panthers found a way to put their rivalry aside and work together to make sure these girls enjoyed the experience.

“The (Florida) girls have accepted us on their home field really well,” Rios said. “They helped show us around and show us the way.

“I’m really glad we had this opportunity to get to know them.”

Florida defender Lauren Silver added: “It was really cool to see the opponent as a friend. Since were playing them later, I think it adds a respect factor for each team.”

The event marked a turning point for both teams, as they came together for the first time to serve their community and help stimulate an interest in the sport both teams are passionate about.

Panthers coach Thomas Chestnutt was instantly attracted to the opportunity to help his rival’s community during his team’s stay in Gainesville.

“We do a lot of community service with our team, and after talking to Becky about some opportunities, I thought it would a great thing to do,” Chestnutt said. “I think this is a little bit special because it’s working with another team and working to do a great thing for these girls.”




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