Danielle Batist, Contributing writer
Last week, more than 400 homeless and low-income soccer players from 55 countries came together in Brazil to compete in the Homeless World Cup. In a stadium in Rio de Janeiro, teams squared off, doing themselves and their country proud.
Portland’s own Aisling O’Grady, 21, is one of the players of the USA Women’s Team. Danielle Batist caught up with her in the middle of the action at the world famous Copacabana Beach, where Aisling was dealing with the intensity of the competition, and a bout of homesickness. O’Grady was featured in the Oregonian last week.
Danielle Batist: How do you feel being here at the Homeless World Cup in Rio?
Aisling O’Grady: “I feel pretty good. It is a lot of fun and it is great to see so many people from different countries play.”
D.B.: What did you think when you heard you were selected for the national team?
A.O.: “I was happy and surprised. I have always loved playing soccer and played from a young age. It felt like a great chance. I was excited about it.”
D.B.: Getting the chance to play for your country in a place like Brazil is one not many people will get. How do you feel about that?
A.O.: “I actually feel like I don’t deserve it. It is such a great honor and I wonder how this can happen to me. It is a dream come true.”
D.B.: What was the biggest challenge for you?
A.O.: “To be away from my family and friends. This is the first time I have been away all by myself and I really miss them. My family wish they were here to watch me play. I have been a bit homesick, but the team coaches have helped me to get through that.”
D.B.: What is it like to play in an all-girls team?
A.O.: “It is a different experience for me. Back in Portland I always play in a team with boys. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we are bonding well as a team. I am definitely enjoying it.”
D.B.: What will you do when you are back in Portland?
A.O.:“I am not sure yet. I would like to maybe study or do a course or something so I will look into that. I will definitely keep playing soccer. It helps me to focus on the positive things life.”