This article appeared in the Greeley Tribune on June 28, 2019. See the excerpt below and click here for the full article.
Earlier this month, a recent Greeley West High School graduate became a face for a world soccer organization that serves as a bridge to refugee and immigrant youth.
Naw Ophi will continue her ambassador work for Soccer Without Borders with a trip next week to the current epicenter of the soccer world, France — the site of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in France.
Ophi, an 18-year-old Greeley resident, and four others from Soccer Without Borders USA will spend a week in Lyon, France participating in a festival hosted by Street Football World, another world organization that shares Soccer Without Borders’ belief that soccer can effect social change within communities.
“I’m a little nervous, but it’s a great opportunity to explore what is outside of Greeley, and coming together with different people,” Ophi said.
Ophi appeared on Fox Sports on June 16 during the Women’s World Cup in a segment that highlighted her family’s emigration to the U.S. when Ophi was 4-years-old.
The production work on the 3-minute Fox Sports feature took place in April in Greeley. The crew interviewed Ophi at her home and playing soccer at Heath Middle School.
“I think it went pretty well,” Ophi said. “I listened to my voice and I hear it shaking.”
Ophi’s family is from Myanmar — formerly known as Burma — and they were forced out by the government in its ethnic and religious persecution of the Karen people, an indigenous group on the Thailand-Myanmar border in southeast Asia.
As a result of the conflict with the Myanmar government, thousands of Karen have fled the repression and ended up in refugee camps in Thailand. Ophi, whose birth name is Ophelia Sue, was born in one of those camps.