Posted On February 5, 2016 by PUSC
February 6, 2016 — Granite Bay High sophomore Emily Talmi — along with her Placer United teammate, Abena Aidoo, from the under-16 ’00 squad — was selected as part of the Olympic Development Program (ODP) team to play in the Region IV friendly tournament in Costa Rica this month. The tournament features the top eighteen 2000 age-group players, selected from the local region to play a number of friendlies at the international level held February 25 through March 3 in San Jose, Costa Rica.
“When I first heard about this, I was astonished,” Talmi confessed. “This is one of the greatest honors I could get at my age. In the future, hopefully things like this will come around again, but this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.”
Talmi was selected for the ’00 ODP Regional Team, earning recognition as one of the area’s best youthful talents.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to go out of the country and play strong teams from Costa Rica,” she added.
Although the honor comes with a chance to visit a new and exciting destination, Talmi admitted she didn’t get much notice to pack her bags and board a flight.
“To be honest, I didn’t really get full warning about this trip,” she said with a laugh. “But a week ago, I got an email from the ODP staff saying I was chosen to play some friendlies from Costa Rica with some of my teammates from region four. But the email didn’t really say who we will be playing or what other teams are going.”
The ODP Region IV team consists of players selected from the western U.S. states from Colorado to Hawaii. Talmi has been on the team for approximately four years, but will make the journey to Costa Rica for the first time in her life.
“I’ve been to Mexico before, but that’s the farthest I’ve traveled out of the United States,” she stated.
The Granite Bay High standout is also involved in a local Player Development Program (PDP) team and she has already committed to Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo for the 2018 season.
“They’re just basically programs that try to get you to the next level, which would hopefully be the national team,” Talmi pointed out.
“Out of every tournament I’ve played in, I think this one will be the most beneficial because you get to play against teams that are coming from way different cultures and much different backgrounds,” she added. “The way they’ve been taught to play (the game of) soccer is probably crazy different than how we’ve been taught.”
Talmi believes this stage will help her open up her game and expand her horizons as a player.
“You watch the national teams play in, for example, the Women’s World Cup and you see Japan connecting the ball and it’s nothing like how the U.S. does it,” she explained. “Getting to play like that will be unbelievable.”
But Talmi won’t be alone on the trip. She was selected with one of her Placer United teammates and will be joined in Costa Rica by a friend from Hawaii and a few more players from Northern California.
“Sadly, Abena won’t be able to go because she just had surgery on her knee, but it’s still exciting to play with some of my friends,” Talmi said.
Talmi wanted to thank the coaching staff at Placer United and Ron Benjamin for their training and preparation in this process.