Growing up on the soccer field
Charlee Norton and Emma Almeida grew up together on the soccer field.
Now, their love for soccer has crossed over state lines.
The 12-year-old Dartmouth locals have been playing soccer since they were four years old, and together for almost as long.
Recently, the two tried out together for the Massachusetts Olympic Development Program, an inter-regional league that claims it is the “most effective method of identifying and developing elite players.”
Their moms say they have a clear passion for the game.
“Charlee just loves it, and she’s good at it,” said Karee Norton, Charlee’s mom. “She knows she has friends in it, she [already] talks about going to college and playing.”
Of 120 girls who tried out, only 30 were selected. Charlee and Emma both made the team. They have been successful, most recently winning three games in Pennsylvania.
“A life lesson they have learned from this is that the harder you work for something and the more time and dedication you put towards something, the bigger the pay off,” said Jessie Almeida, Emma’s mom.
The girls have committed to practicing many hours a month and traveling with the team to play at tournaments throughout the northeast, including Albany, NY and Lancaster, PA.
Charlee and Emma play against other competitive girls from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Connecticut, Vermont and Pennsylvania.
Norton explained that playing with such an advanced level of competition, the girls get better each time they play and bring their skill back to their local team.
For the girls, it is more than just a pastime or hobby.
“It speaks volumes that when they’re not at soccer and not on the field they still have a ball at their feet all the time just for the pure joy of the sport,” Almeida said.