An American Dream Awakens Overseas
Aug. 10, 2006
Malibu, Calif. - By Matt Zimmerman, Staff writer presstelegram.com
Anna Picarelli worked toward her chosen career for a long time. Her education began when she was young, continued through St. Joseph High, and finished at Pepperdine University this spring. But when she was finally ready to go out into the world, a tough fact of recent American life became clear.
The job she wanted no longer truly existed in the U.S., and she had to go overseas.
"Me and my dad just started researching," said Picarelli, who noted rumors that the now-defunct U.S. women's league the WUSA would come back in 2008. "We just looked up online, and sent a lot of e-mails to the different (organizations). No teams responded to the e-mails, so we just called somebody."
And when CF (Calcio Femminile) Bardolino responded they could use someone with her talents and experience, Picarelli hopped a plane to the land of her ancestors. She is now in training camp as a goalie with the soccer team, which plays in Italy's top division and represents a town in the northeast part of the country, between Venice and Milan.
Picarelli had taken a trip to the World Cup in Germany with her Pepperdine teammates, so she was available in late June for a meeting and tryout with Bardolino.
"I definitely had to brush up on my Italian in the day and a half that I was there," said Picarelli, who studied the language for five semesters. "I realized I was not going to make it by with what I knew. They started talking really fast, and I kind of had to think in my head, how do I get them to slow down? I had to really dig deep, back into my studies."
Anna's father Angelo served as a de facto agent, speaking to Bardolino officials on Anna's behalf and negotiating the terms of her deal. The family also owns Cirevello's Restaurant, but Anna was unable to attend probably the biggest party the establishment hosted this season.
To keep sharp Anna also played for Palos Verdes-based Ajax in the Women's Premier Soccer League, and was in Sacramento for a league game July 9, the day Italy won its first World Cup since 1982. But while she notes that "I had to watch it in another bar that was not up to the standards of Cirevello's," the playing experience was key.
"It's been very important," Picarelli said. "I think the hardest part about goalkeeping is you can train all you want, but you need to get into a game situation, facing people. You need to get into the game."
Picarelli's college career actually ended last fall with a loss at perennial national power North Carolina. Being seen in that game led to Picarelli being scouted and invited to training camp with the U.S. Under-21 team this past winter at the Home Depot Center.
Due to Italy lacking a collegiate system similar to the U.S.' and also due to the fact the women's game is something of an afterthought when compared to the men's game, Picarelli is confident she will be able to compete in Italy. But more importantly, her opportunity is a chance to connect with loved ones.
"Words really can't describe. It's kind of almost brought the family together, because now everybody has a reason to go back to Italy, where the family's from," said Picarelli. "I have family there that I haven't met, they will come see me play."
(Story courtsey of Press Telegram website, Long Beach, Calif.; http://www.presstelegram.com/sports/ci_4159814)