After washing 500 cars, selling 778 raffle tickets and dozens of donuts, and participating in numerous other fund-raisers, the Honeydips girls team is on its way to England for the International Youth Soccer Festival, July 22-29.
The Honeydips, 14- and 15-year-old girls from the Prince George's Mid-County Athletic Association and Bowie Soccer Association, wanted to raise an estimated $20,000 needed for their trip. Since receiving an invitation to the tournament in December, the team has raised nearly $15,000.
The Honeydips will face teams from Taiwan and England, as well as three clubs from the United States.
They have practiced three times a week with scrimmages against both girls and boys teams.
The team won the gold medal in the Coca-Cola Junior Soccer Olympics last year, took first place in the Clinton Girls and Boys Annual Soccer tournament for two consecutive years, and has participated in two tournaments in Canada.
"I consider this tournament another mountain for us to conquer," said Coach George Henderson.
The girls attend various high schools in Prince George's, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Bowie, Riverdale Baptist, Seton, Queen Anne's and Largo.
Although the Prince George's school system does not have a girls soccer program (they are allowed to try out for boys teams), many of the girls have been playing club soccer since they were 8 or 9.
Joanna Knoch, goalie for the Honeydips, thinks the team will do well in England.
"Teams may work us harder but we have lots of experience playing together, which will help us," she said.
But Henderson points out, "European soccer is more aggressive and the players use their bodies more than the girls are used to."
Sarah Yates, the sweeper, is "looking forward to playing European teams because they're more competitive than U.S. teams."