By Punch Pep Correspondent Elizabeth Fischer
It started as any other summer day in D.C. -Â hot, hot and hot with an added punch of humidity! But this day offered a break from the heat in the form of an invitation to attend tea with Manchester United at the British Ambassadorâ€™s Residence.Â The residence is located on Massachusetts Avenue marking the northern end of Embassy Row in Washington, D.C.
The area is lush, the grounds striking and the place welcoming.Â I envisioned many cups of tea while reading a good book (of course not when it is 110 with the heat index), entertaining or engaging in diplomacy.
As I arrived I watched fans furiously take photos of the tour bus, hoping for a glimpse of his/her superstar.Â I entered the grounds and then the residence making my way up the marble steps.Â On the landing, I was greeted by British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald and his wife Lady Julia Sheinwald.
I was then lured towards the Ballroom with the energetic guests that were treated to a traditional English Afternoon tea.Â Â (This is quite the treat -Â while studying in London I indulged in many afternoon tea parties â€“ I loved the fruit tarts, small sandwiches and scones with thick creamy butter – but most of all the tradition.Â To my girly girls and mothers with daughters this is THE tea party â€“ the tea party that leaves many with envy and many desiring more â€“ it will leave your daughtersâ€™ giggling, content, joyful and planning the next affair with her dolls).
But my attention quickly turned towards the stairs as a sea of white and blue pierced the corner of my eye.
As an avid soccer player, an afternoon with European professional fÃºtbol players was akin to the time my father let me spend two dollars on penny candy in the biggest candy store in Montana or ride my first roller coaster or my triumphant oral argument before the Virginia Supreme Court â€“ okay â€“ maybe a little much â€“ donâ€™t want to show my true colors â€“ smile â€“ but to be able to spend an afternoon in a room brimming with such talent is inspiring!Â This is true whenever I am lucky to be surrounded by talent and success, no matter the form or context, such that I am inspired to be a better me; and, in fact, I played much better soccer the next time I took to the pitch (field) after my afternoon tea and day at the match.Â But enough about me â€“ letâ€™s talk fÃºtbol or as we call it in AmericaÂ – soccer.
Soccer has come a long way in the States and so has the fan following and appreciation (presence and enthusiasm in America since 2004Â has grown exponentially).Â The Ballroom was overflowing with excitement â€“ a buzz â€“ a purr.Â There was plenty of muscle, lady-like charm, raw fan appreciation, flashing photography, sharpie scrawl, and wit.Â After being warned the team was tired and would not be open to much discussion or many photos, I am happy to report the Manchester United players engaged each and every person that took the time to approach with graciousness and genuineness.Â The event was brilliantly organized and well attended; even former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs was there with his son.
Toward the end, Sir Nigel quieted the guests and congratulated Sir Alex for his management skills (most successful manager in British fÃºtbol history winning more than 30 trophies & 12 Premier League Championships) and to the team for being the most successful British team.Â He also wished Americans well – analogizing the crisis on the hill to a team that wishes to get the ball in the net but is stuck in the middlefield surrounded by nasty pests â€“ tendering it takes strength, endurance and team work to accomplish the objective.
Finally heÂ recognized Tyler Spencer, the Grassroots Project and the children in attendance.Â The Grassroots Project’s (GRP) mission is to bring athletes and kids together by partnering Division I college athletes with at-risk youth to educate them about HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention.Â The education component is structured through an interactive curriculum of over 15 games and activities that encourage participatory learning of issues such as basic HIV prevention information, stigma, and discrimination.Â According to GRP, “kids will play sports they enjoy while learning and interacting with positive role models who can help them develop a love of learning and playing, as well as attitudes and skills to live healthy, positive, and HIV-free lives.” Tyler first conceived of the idea after spending two summers in South Africa volunteering to set up HIV prevention programs in DeBeers/Grassroot Soccer diamond mining communities.Â Realizing that HIV was a big problem in DC, that the curriculum he used in South Africa could be adapted to fit DC, he started the project).Â Pretty amazing!
The afternoon was right out of my playbook, ended with an invite to the game and provided just the right spice to my lifeâ€™s journey.Â Stay tuned for more from the Barcelona (Barca) versus Manchester United game.
***Attorney Elizabeth Fischer is Punch Pep Correspondent. She is working as an Entrepreneur, Lawyer and Student (environmental studies), covering events for Pamelaâ€™s Punch as a generalist correspondent.Â When she is not working, studying or playing soccer or tennis, she is walking her pups, traveling the globe, running marathons, and enjoying all DC has to offer.***
Attorney Elizabeth Fischer is Punch Pep Correspondent. She is working as an Entrepreneur, Lawyer and Student (environmental studies), covering events for Pamela’s Punch as a generalist correspondent. When she is not working, studying or playing soccer or tennis, she is walking her pups, traveling the globe, running marathons, and enjoying all DC has to offer. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.