The Arlington Arrows, one of the top-ranked youth teams in the Washington area, will become the first American youth team to play in China when the squad goes on tour later this summer.
The Arrows, an 18-and-under team, will also face Japanese and Hawaiian all-star teams on their 12-game tour, and are scheduled to meet with former president Gerald Ford late this month to discuss their trip.
"The meeting with president Ford really surprised me, but he has taken a great interest in our trip," said Arlington Coach Tom Furth, who took over the team in 1978. "This team was put together a few years ago, and it has really grown into a family. The off-field characteristics of these boys are just as important as how good they are on the field, and we've gained a reputation of respectability."
This is not the first trip overseas for the Arrows, who compiled a 30-6-2 record in 1981 while competing in the National Capital Soccer League. The team traveled to Europe for games against English, Scottish, Dutch and German teams in 1980. It has also played all over the United States. Furth estimated that the Arrows, who are sponsored on tour by the United States Soccer Federation, have won more than 80 percent of their games.
The Arrows, who are built around a nucleus of O'Connell and Yorktown high school players, must raise $100,000 to finance their trip to the Orient. The trip is scheduled to begin on July 24.