High School Sports

3 Bellingham soccer players playing in Peru

Bellingham High School boys’ soccer players Keenan Knuutilla, Joseph Worley and Dane Thurston (pictured) are raising money to travel to Peru on a select soccer team.
Bellingham High School boys’ soccer players Keenan Knuutilla, Joseph Worley and Dane Thurston (pictured) are raising money to travel to Peru on a select soccer team.

Three Bellingham High School boys’ soccer players are raising money to travel to Peru with a select soccer team for three weeks of soccer, sightseeing and service.

Joseph Worley, Keenan Knuuttila and Dane Thurston will join Select Washington FC on its second annual trip to Peru where they will play with and against college and professional players. The trio has to raise $3,279 each before the team departs from Seattle to Lima on June 19.

Worley, Bellingham’s goalie, was approached by coach Jose Lecca after Lecca saw him play and asked him to join the team. Worley jumped at the chance.

“It’s huge to have this opportunity,” Worley said. “It’s a little nerve-racking but I’m just going to take it day by day down there.”

Worley said Lecca watched Thurston and Knuuttila in a game and invited them to join next.

Players on Select Washington FC will receive top quality training from professional youth coaches. When the team is not playing, players will have the chance to go on city tours, visit museums, amusement parks, beaches, churches and Machu Picchu.

To help fund the trip the boys are collecting used soccer gear donations which they will give to a small school in the rainforest an hour and a half from the city of Iquitos. The boys are hosting a fundraiser from 1-4 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, at 2211 Rimland Dr. in the Keller Williams parking lot where they will accept soccer gear, school supplies and cash donations. They will also have a bake sale.

Worley’s mother, Sara Wright, said the trip will be a right of passage for the boys.

“I think it’ll broaden their world view,” Wright said. “The food that they get to eat and the kids they get to help down there. I’m pretty proud of Joe, especially for that reason.”

Knuuttila’s mother, Tara, echoed Wright.

“I’m a little nervous but also incredibly excited for him,” Tara said. “To go into another culture and see how they live – he’s just really excited.”

The boys really stepped up raising money, according to Tara. Over Mother’s Day weekend the trio went to both Bellingham United soccer games and talked about their trip while passing out flyers.

“I just sat back and watched the boys and I was impressed with how well they talked to random strangers about their trip,” Tara said.

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