On Thursday, President Barack Obama announced that senior advisor Daniel H. Pfeiffer would lead the official U.S. delegation to Brazil for the World Cup. The delegation also included Liliana Ayalde, the U.S. Ambassador to Brazil, and Roberts Sahaydak, currently the head women's soccer coach at the University of Central Florida.
"I'm proud to attend the opening world cup match in Brazil on behalf of President Obama as a representative of my country and the sport I love," said Roberts Sahaydak. "This is both a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an overwhelming honor. Soccer has given me so much, and I take very seriously the opportunity to use sports diplomacy in bringing people together and promoting relations with America's important partners like Brazil."
Roberts Sahaydak was a standout midfielder for North Carolina as a three-time All-ACC First Team selection. She led the Tar Heels to two NCAA titles (1996, 1997) during her tenure, was voted the 1998 ACC Tournament MVP and finished third in voting for collegiate soccer's highest honor, the Hermann Trophy. She still ranks among the top five for career starts in UNC's record book. After Carolina, Roberts Sahaydak was a 1996 Olympic gold medalist and a 1999 World Cup winner as a member of the United States Women's National Soccer Team.
This is not Roberts Sahaydak's first foray into sports diplomacy. As a State Department Sports Envoy, she has travelled to Brazil twice, Uganda, the Phillipines, and Thailand. In May, she travelled throughout Brazil as part of a State Department-sponsored "World Cup Roadshow" with former U.S. Men's National Team player Cobi Jones. The duo conducted clinics and workshops for Brazilian youth in Recife, Manaus, and Natal - the host cities of Team USA's opening round matches.
The 2014 World Cup began yesterday with Roberts Sahaydak on hand in Sao Paolo where host Brazil defeated Croatia 3-1.