Despite challenging matches, our athletes overcome obstacles and achieve an exemplary victory
On December 3 and 4, Nations participated in the third edition of the prestigious AASB Final Four Championship, hosted at the American School of Rio de Janeiro. It was a unique opportunity for our boys’ under-18 soccer team to showcase their skill and determination in a high-level tournament. The AASB Final Four brought together the best teams from the Big 8 and the International Schools Sports League (ISSL), championship where our team, the Cougars, stood out by securing the first place in the ISSL in October 2023. With this achievement, we secured our spot in this thrilling event, where teams compete intensely for the ultimate title.
The Nations' team, comprised of fifteen dedicated student-athletes, along with the School Teams Program and our Executive Director Danyel Dalmaschio, embarked on this exciting adventure, eager to represent our school with pride.
The Cougars' Path to victory
On the first day of the competition, we faced the EARJ Panthers, the home team, in a thrilling semifinal. The game was fiercely contested, and with great determination, we managed to secure the victory with a score of 1-0. The author of this crucial goal was João Henrique Michels, a Grade 10 student and the striker for the Cougars in the championship. In the final, held the next day, our team demonstrated its resilience against the Eagles from the American School of São Paulo, the Graded. In another exciting match, we won 1-0, with the decisive goal again scored by João Michels, our number 28.
In addition to the decisive goal, the remarkable performance of goalkeeper Pedro Henrique Morsch stands out. In the first game against EARJ, Morsch delivered an exciting penalty save in the first half, keeping the score in favor of Nations. This outstanding performance contributed significantly to the victorious journey of the Cougars in the tournament.
João has been a Cougar athlete since 2021 and already holds a first-place title in the 2022 Final Four championship. As the current top scorer of the team, he comments:
"I am very happy! From the beginning of the competition, I set my mind to score goals in both games, so my confidence was very high. Scoring the decisive goals in a competition of this magnitude is incredible. The team's synergy helped me, and I was confident that what we were practicing would work. Our team is highly competitive, a reflection of our training. So, when we enter a championship, it is to win. My expectation is that we can maintain the level of consecutive titles, playing beautiful football, maintaining this standard, and entering to win and compete."
The team coach, Felipe Carvalho, also shares his experience in the championship. Now, Felipe holds three titles in the Final Four, two golds, and one bronze, totaling one title in each edition of the championship held to date.
"It's a unique feeling and a historic achievement because the school and the male Cougars team have won many titles in this short post-pandemic period. We have a renewed team after 14 students from the male team graduated, so winning this title is incredible, and I am honored to be part of this history. My expectation for the next championships remains very positive because these new athletes have been growing in every aspect: tactically, technically, and physically. This new generation only brings us pride and admiration for their dedication and ability to evolve in training with excellence."
ISSL Season I: Victory for the Male Team and Female Team's Highlight
In addition to the victory of the boys’ team in ISSL Season I, securing their place in the Final Four championship, our female under-18 football team also stood out in the tournament, winning the silver trophy and securing the second position in the competition.
What Lies Ahead
The thrilling journey of the Cougars in the AASB Final Four left a taste of victory and a promising vision of the future. Now, our male under-18 football team remains steadfast, with new competitions and titles on the horizon. In March 2024, the team will represent Nations once again in the second season of the ISSL championship. With the potential to clinch the title, we envision the possibility of another AASB Final Four next year. The destiny of the Cougars on the fields and courts promises to be as exciting as it is inspiring.