By DELLYANNE ILAI
THE hospitality of Papua New Guineans and the sweet Pacific pasin (way) will be cherished by US striker Jessie Scarpa and her family long after the Fifa Under-20 Women’s World Cup.
The US run for football supremacy was ended prematurely by a tactical North Korean side in the semi-finals and they will battle Japan for third-place tomorrow afternoon at the National Football Stadium.
Scarpa, 20, who holds dual US and Canadian citizenship, and second in a family of three sisters, was happy and thankful for her grandmother Eleanor and mum Karyn, who joined other parents who flew across the Pacific to Port Moresby to cheer the girls over the last three weeks.
“I think this country is beautiful. It is very different to America but I have really enjoyed my time here,” Scarpa told The National via email through mum Karyn.
“The Pacific people are amazing. Everyone is so genuinely happy and friendly towards us. “It is incredible,” the third-year University of North Carolina student said.
“My teammates and I all love the sugar fruit.
“We don’t have it in America so we are trying to eat a lot of it while we can,” she said.
Scarpa started playing soccer when she was four-years-old.
Her older sister played football so her parents wanted to sign her up too, she said.
“At first I was reluctant to play and even cried during my first game, but I fell in love with the sport,” she said.
“My parents have played a huge role in my life and have always encouraged me to go out of my comfort zone to try new things.
“I think that this attitude has helped me get to where I am,” she said. “This is the biggest event I have played in so I was a little bit nervous at first, but I knew my teammates had my back.
“This World Cup has been such an amazing experience and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this event in PNG.”
Scarpa also encouraged women in the world and PNG to stay in schools and get an education for as long as they could.
“We need to empower ourselves and believe we can do anything we set our minds to.”
Karyn, Jessie’s mother, said she was happy that PNG people were helpful.
“My mother (Jessie’s grandmother), who is blind, is an example of a strong woman that all three of my girls have learned from.
“She has arthritis but was still willing to make this long trip to cheer Jessie and her teammates in PNG,” Karyn said.
Eleanor, 78, felt a great deal of excitement, pride and joy for Jessie’s accomplishment of making the team for the U20 Women’s World Cup.
“We are a sporting family and I am the biggest fan. I also have adopted all of the girls on Jessie’s team,” Eleanor chuckled.
“They are a sweet bunch of girls.”
By DELLYANNE ILAI