HOUSTON -- The Rice soccer team, winners of the 2017 Conference USA regular season championship, will take an international trip to Spain on March 10-18, 2018, Owl head coach Nicky Adams announced.
With the trip to be centered around the cities of Barcelona and Valencia, the Owls will play exhibition matches against Spanish teams as well as have a cultural and educational component that includes tours of historic sites and museums. A complete schedule of the games to be played and itinerary of events will be announced at a later time, but Coach Adams explained the program's unique road trip during the University's spring break is sure to showcase Spain's passion for the world's most popular game.
"I believe an international trip can have a positive and important impact on people, particularly students," coach Adams said. "Rice University has a wonderful program where students are able to study abroad, but there are times where student-athletes are unable to have that opportunity simply because of the unique demands of their time and schedules. Ever since I was named the Rice head coach it is something I've wanted to do. I am very interested in having our program try and make a trip like this once every four years so that in the future all the Rice players can have this experience while they are still in school.
"I wanted to find the right destination, and I was pretty surprised to learn a lot of girls on our team have never been to Europe," she explained. "We're going to be in Spain ten days, so I think we'll get a bit of everything. Barcelona is one of the most historic destinations in the world, so there will be much to do and see. Not only will we have two games to play, we'll put on a community service event interacting with some local youth teams. We've got some Rice soccer items ready to hand out to them.
"Our program has had former players (Lauren Hughes, Catherine Fitzsimmons and Korey Taylor) go play in Europe after finishing at Rice," Adams said. "This trip may spark more interest in wanting to do that. I would also love to develop a relationship with various international teams, to have them come play here and visit our University."
Coach Adams also pointed out there was at least one international futbol player of note recently to visit Rice Soccer. In 2016 soccer superstar Lionel Messi, a native of Argentina who plays for famed FC Barcelona, had a training session at Owls' home pitch during a stop in Houston.
"Messi was here, on our field... that's a big deal," the Owls' head coach added. "When we're in Spain I for one would love to go to FC Barcelona's Camp Nou and repay the visit."