Matt Millet has just finished working his nightly graveyard shift at the Worcester, Ma. Department of Youth Services, on a rainy Thursday morning. As we sit at a Dunkin Donuts on Rt. 9 in Westborough, it is hard to imagine that in less than three weeks, Matt will be in Cape Town, South Africa playing soccer on the world’s biggest stage as a participant in the Unity Cup, just prior to a World Cup Quarterfinal match that could feature world soccer powers Argentina and Germany (or Team USA!). The magnitude of this opportunity is not lost on Matt, a life-long soccer fan in addition to being a Special Olympics athlete and skilled soccer player.
“Did you see that Germany match against Australia?” he asks, referring to Germany’s 4-0 dismantling of Australia in the Group Stage of the World Cup. “It was like a soccer clinic.” When the long-shot possibility that the USA team could end up in that game is brought up, Matt explains, “I would love to see the US make it to that game. But if not, then seeing two of the best teams in the world would be amazing.” (Editor’s note: This post written before Germany’s surprise loss to Serbia)
An almost mischievous smile then comes across Matt’s face. “And I can’t believe I am going to play on that grass, on that field!” Matt appreciates the opportunity to play on a perfectly manicured pitch, as would anyone who grew up playing soccer in Massachusetts (and likely many other places in the world), where soccer fields range from bone-dry concrete-like conditions in the summer to puddle-filled, mud-infested terrain in the spring and fall. It is clear that Matt is excited for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity not just because of all the pomp-and-circumstance and historical nature of the event. Rather, he is a soccer guy, through and through.
That said, Matt understands there are other perks that come along with this trip. While Matt says he will be thrilled to meet and share the field with soccer legend Alan Shearer, he also confirms with a shy smile that he looks forward to meeting and sharing the field with Chinese actress and Special Olympics Global Ambassador Zhang Zivi. Additionally, he looks forward to hiking Table Mountain with his brother John, who will be accompanying Matt on the trip.
“I’m going to be talking about this trip for the rest of my life”, Matt says after taking a moment to think about all that lies ahead. “I just want to enjoy the moment the whole time I am there”.
Stay tuned and we’ll be bringing you updates throughout the lead-up to this trip as well as the trip itself.