The Best Gift This Holiday Season? A Trip with WorldStrides Excel

Getting your eyes on a WorldStrides Excel soccer tour itinerary is like receiving an injection of adrenaline straight into your veins. A walk inside the walls of Camp Nou. A visit to Irazu volcano. A tour of the Sistine chapel. What’s more, these cultural highlights—the stuff of postcards and history books—are all mixed in with high-quality training sessions and matches against local teams. These are the items on the list for which you can pack, prep and brainstorm an Instagram caption in advance. 

But what about the special moments hidden within the WorldStrides Excel tour for which you can’t see on the page and could never fully prepare? This is where a significant amount of the beauty and memory-making potential is held on a WSE trip. Just ask Jené Baclawski, technical director of the South Texas Youth Soccer Association and the head coach of the St. Kitts & Nevis women’s national team. 

South Texas ODP is no stranger to WSE soccer tours, having taken several boys and girls teams on trips abroad to places like Costa Rica, France and England. Baclawski, however, just went on her first WSE trip with her teams this past March. A majority of her time was spent in Barcelona with a few girls’ squads. 

On paper, the technical director had a sense of what events on the tour would be the most fun, productive, and meaningful; but the reality was nothing she could have drawn up in her head. She recalled her favorite memory from the Barcelona trip: 

“We traveled from our little beach side town [Come Ruga] which was absolutely gorgeous and we went into the city. We went to the training grounds where we had Vicky Losada do a training session with the players. She comes out there, ya know, basically the Abby Wambach of Spain. She was so approachable and so kind. From a soccer perspective, she ran an extremely quality session with the players. After, she talked with them about what it was like to be a pro player. And  then she was gracious enough to sign autographs and take pictures with every single player. It was something that went way beyond my expectations for the tour.”

Moments like these are perhaps what leave the deepest marks on WSE travelers. It’s that kind of intentional soccer and personal engagement that opens players’ eyes to the values of broadening ones’ horizons, as soccer players but also as curious young adults. And these things are not just a one-off in a WSE trip, they are sprinkled throughout. Matches, for example, present a perfect, unique opportunity for the idea transfer that comes with two different communities coming into contact.

“Every game we played was against a team from the Barcelona area… Those girls, their first touch was amazing. They could possess the ball like crazy. They played tika taka, had great touch, and could move and  read the game. The girls who go abroad say, ‘I’m gonna pick up that from that girl because she did this move and I want to try that’. I think that’s what the purpose is. For me, as a technical director, I want girls to be connected to the professional game and the international game. We don’t have as many girls watching soccer on TV so when you ask them their favorite players, they can’t name those who play in France or a Vicky Losada. Adding the international experience to ODP program is about helping girls watch the game at a higher level.

The influential cross-cultural exchange goes beyond the bounds of the 90 minutes.

“After every game, there was a chance for a meet and greet. In every single one, the opposing players would ask what it was like to be a female player in the US. Our girls were surprised at how few opportunities there were at the youth level there and that they were fighting to be taken seriously. I think they came away with an appreciation for the things that they had. But then there were other things that were so much better [in Spain] in terms of the club culture environment. They had meeting spaces and each of the clubs had a locker room where they could change and shower.”

It’s the type of conversation that could never be planned for or explained in an itinerary. Even the most skilled travel writer or tour guide is unable to convey the impact of the little but potent experiences nestled behind the Big Items our brains latch onto when thinking of venturing overseas. 

The itinerary of a WSE tour is all for which you could hope as a player, coach, or parent. It’s expert detail will erase the stress of traveling with big groups poses. It’s content will stir the learner, adventure-seeker, and soccer-lover in its travelers. While you’re feeling good about those aspect as you pack your bags for a WorldStrides Excel trip, just think about all the unlisted, unmentioned experiences there are to be had with the potential to forever imprint you.

To learn more about how to book a WorldStrides Excel soccer tour, visit



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