From Team BLHS to Team USA
Basehor-Linwood grad Murrell invited to play in Goodwill Games
Matt Murrell always wore his Basehor-Linwood soccer jersey with pride during his playing days as a Bobcat.
These days, he proudly represents Northeastern State University as a college soccer player at the Tahlequah, Okla., school.
Still, Murrell’s proudest moment as a soccer player will take place this summer when he dons a jersey representing the United States of America.
Murrell recently was selected to play in the Goodwill Games this July in Barbados. Murrell is a member of the 16-man roster that will represent the country in international competition.
Murrell says he’s excited about the opportunity to play for his country.
“Representing the United States, that’s the biggest thing,” he said of what he was looking forward to most about the experience. “I want to represent the United States. Just knowing that my name’s out there — that I could be chosen to represent the United States in any field — is an amazing feeling.”
Founded by Ted Turner, the Goodwill Games started in 1986 as a response to the political troubles surrounding the Olympic Games during the early 1980s. The Goodwill Games were later bought from Turner by Time Warner. After the 2001 competition in Brisbane, the Goodwill Games came to an end. Since then, numerous sports have reincarnated the concept and conducted amateur athletic competitions around the world.
Now, it’s Murrell’s turn to have the Goodwill Games experience.
The process of being selected caught Murrell by surprise. He receive an e-mail last month inviting him to be a candidate for a roster spot. After doing some research to make sure it was legit, Murrell said he was interested. Murrell said he found out he’d been recommended for the team by another coach. Northeastern State teammate Michael Wilson also was selected to play.
Murrell said he was shocked when he received an e-mail informing him he’d made the cut.
“I kind of sat at my computer and just stared at it,” he said. “I picked up the phone and called my dad, and he started freaking out.
“They chose 16 guys from all of the United States college level,” Murrell added. “What it is like is a college national team. We’re going to play in a tournament in Barbados against other nations.”
Murrell said a schedule of the team’s activities hadn’t been released, but he said the team would warm up with matches against some U.S. club teams and then leave for Barbados on July 18. He said the team would play a minimum of five games at the Goodwill Games.
This will be Murrell’s first time traveling internationally to play soccer, although he has faced international competition before. When he lived in Dallas, his Solar Soccer Club team played opponents from Costa Rica, South Africa and England. He said he enjoyed seeing the different styles of soccer that the other countries played.
“It was a lot different,” he said. “My culture to their culture and my style of soccer to theirs was completely different, and just the way that we went against each other was just a different style. I am honored to be able to play against them so I can get used to different styles of soccer for when I go professional.”
Murrell said he was working on getting stronger and faster before the Goodwill Games. He suffered his second anterior cruciate ligament tear last year, but he spent the spring and summer recovering before returning to the net in the fall at Northeastern State.
Local kids who saw Murrell wearing a bulky knee brace during Basehor-Linwood Soccer Association camps last summer will be happy to know that not only does Murrell have his full mobility back, but he no longer has to wear the brace.
He’s also back in the starting lineup.
“The fall season last semester was pretty decent,” he said. “Half of our schedule was against teams that were in the top 25, so it was an enlightening experience.”
Murrell says he is eager to represent the United States this summer, and while he’s abroad he will be thankful for the support from back home.
“I just want to thank Basehor for being behind me all these years,” he said. “I want to thank them for supporting our team and coming to games, and I want to thank my (BLHS) teammates and club teammates for pushing me to get to this level.”