More than 750 million people all over the globe watched the women’s World Cup finals in 2015. One of those 750 million was 16-year-old Cecily Stoute.
Now a star defender for the Georgia soccer team, Stoute will have the chance to watch from a little closer as a member of the Trinidad and Tobago Women’s National Team. This week, she got the opportunity every boy and girl who’s ever felt the ball at their feet has dreamed of: the chance to represent their country in the biggest competition in the world.
“It’s so exciting because it’s a huge opportunity, and I’m going to see and play against players that I grew up watching, which is really cool,” Stoute said.
She was selected to represent her mother’s home country, Trinidad and Tobago, in the World Cup qualifying matches this week. FIFA, the international soccer governing body, allows players to represent both their nation, as well as the home country of their parents.
"[The other players] were so welcoming and so were the locals. It didn’t take long at all to get adjusted."
- Cecily Stoute, Georgia soccer defender
Although she’s lived in the United States all her life, Stoute has remained connected with Trinidad over the years. As a child, she traveled to Princes Town in Trinidad to visit family at least once a year. Now, she returns to the nation as a World Cup player.
“I have so much family in Trinidad, and they get so excited every time I get the chance to play over there,” Stoute said. “It’s exciting to get to play for them.”
She added that although she is an American by birth, she fits right in with the rest of the team, but it took some getting used to.
“It was a little weird at first, but later I realized there were a few other girls on the team just like me,” she said. “[The other players] were so welcoming and so were the locals. It didn’t take long at all to get adjusted.”
Stoute earned her first international cap in Trinidad’s opening World Cup qualifying match against Mexico on Oct. 7, and she will face a test when the team faces the defending World Cup champion United States National Team on Oct. 10. For Stoute, getting the chance to share the field with all-time great players like Alex Morgan and Hope Solo is a dream come true, although the players she once idolized are now her opponents.
“I’m definitely going to be star struck, but I’ll save that for after the game,” said Stoute. “I’ve watched them through all the other World Cups, and I’ll always cheer for them. It’s unbelievable that I’ll get to share the field with them.”
Playing for your country is considered by many to be the greatest achievement that a soccer player can earn, and those who have been with Stoute throughout her career understand what it means for her to wear her nation’s colors.
“There’s no higher calling,” said Georgia soccer head coach Billy Lesesne. “We’re super proud of her and all the work she’s put in to get this opportunity. Any chance you get to help your country qualify for a world cup is really big time.”
Stoute’s international duties forced her to miss out on the Bulldog’s match against Auburn last Sunday, as well as their training this week ahead of their Friday matchup against Tennessee. As a starter and key contributor for the team, her absence has definitely been felt, but Lesesne and the team are happy to see her live a life-long dream.
“This is a great opportunity for her,” said Lesesne. “We are so proud of her commitment to Georgia, and [we’re] very excited that one of our own Bulldogs has earned the opportunity to play on an international stage.”
On the ride back from Georgia’s defeat at Auburn, the mood on the bus was somber. But everyone on the team roared as they watched Cecily take the field against Mexico on the tiny charter bus screens.
Lesesne said the team plans to get together to watch her match against the United States on Wednesday after practice, and every single one of them will be rooting for Trinidad.
After the match, Stoute will return to Athens and begin preparation for Tennessee, but for now, she’s enjoying living her dream.
“I love what I do, and I love that I have the chance to play for Trinidad,” she said. “It’s an amazing feeling and it's really such a blessing.”