CHAPEL HILL, NC (WTVD) — Chapel Hill is used to big sporting events, but this one will put the city on the world map when Chelsea FC and the UK’s Wrexham AFC meet in a friendly at Kenan Stadium.
WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary played host to practice sessions for both teams Tuesday night.
“I’ve always wanted to go see European stars,” said Godson Amaechi, who lives in Raleigh. “It’s been too far, but I guess we’ll have some here today. My son got into it.”
Tuesday was the perfect opportunity for Amaechi to take son Ben, 7, and daughter Nadia, 4, and much easier to get from Raleigh to Cary instead of hiking to Chapel Hill .
NC Courage Academy members also got to see some international stars up close and personal, including 15-year-old Olivia Best and 16-year-old Syri Davis.
“Being able to drive 10 minutes from my house to see them here is kind of crazy,” Olivia said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Both said they have more than a vested interest in what they’re seeing on the practice field and hope they can carry some of it into their own training.
“It’s great to witness professional players and top athletes doing things that we can support and implement,” Syri said.
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Football fever traveled from tents in Cary to Franklin Street in Chapel Hill, where corporate flags and banners hung.
We even saw pet cutouts at the Graduate Hotel.
“We went last year to Charlotte, and every time they come to America, we try to make a trip,” said Joe Mclemore, who traveled with his wife from Virginia Beach to watch Chelsea play in the preseason game. “I wanted to go on a honeymoon at Stamford Bridge, but the other half wasn’t having it.”
Bryan Teague based his trip to North Carolina around the game.
She lives in Los Angeles and decided to visit her sister-in-law in Fayetteville. He attended Chelsea games in Pasadena, California, and last year in Las Vegas.
“There definitely seems to be a lot more excitement,” Teague said. “I grew up playing football but this is the nicest stadium I’ve ever been to, at least we didn’t have it when I was growing up.”