DUTCHESS COUNTY, N.Y. - Four Dutchess County high school football players are about to take the trip of a lifetime.
Nick and Michael Mastroeni, two brothers from Rhinebeck High School, and Rory Foley and Joe Flaccavento, of Trinity-Pawling, are headed to China to play for Team Stars & Stripes, representing their country in the ninth annual Global Ambassador's Bowl.
The Global Ambassadors Bowl traces its origins back to Japan in 2008 and has taken high-school aged travelers and mentoring coaches to Europe and Asia to expand their appreciation of the world, make new friends and play football. The series has graced Japan (2008 and 2009), France & Belgium (2010), Germany (2011), Italy (2012, 2013 and 2015), Spain (2014) and Czech Republic & Germany (2016), with Team Stars & Stripes boasting a 7-2 overall record.
“We’re not only excited to play the game we’ve been playing forever overseas, but it is an opportunity to go and explore a whole new and different view on life,” said Nick Mastroeni, a fullback/linebacker and a senior at Rhinebeck HS. “The way they see the sport that we play, and the difference between the two countries, will be interesting to discover.”
The Mastroeni brothers are both power backs and will enjoy running the ball in China. “We like our short runs... and to hit someone along the way,” said Nick. “I think it’s going to be an amazing opportunity and a once in a lifetime experience. I’m just happy that I’m going.”
“I’m excited to discover the culture and to see a different aspect on life, see things through their eyes,” Michael Mastroeni said. “What we hear and see will be very different from what we experience at home, and that's going to be interesting.”
JJ Flaccavento, 15, is the Mastroeni’s cousin and is in the 9th grade at Trinity-Pawling. He plays on the offensive and defensive lines and lives in Wappingers Falls.
“I’m excited to visit China,” he said. “I can't believe I will get a chance to play football in another country. This is a great opportunity to play a sport I love and to see China, especially all the tourist attractions."
Foley, 17, is a junior at Trinity-Pawling and plays running back/safety, and lives in Hopewell Junction. “I couldn't pass up this opportunity, and I want to make everyone around me proud,” Foley said.
Team Stars & Stripes - which leaves for China Saturday, April 1, will face a team from the American Football Academy (AFA) at Yuanshen Stadium in the Pudong district of Shanghai on Saturday, April 8. The American players and coaches will host an American football clinic in both Beijing and Shanghai for local Chinese players discovering a sport growing in popularity in China. The team will also experience spectacular cultural sites including the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Beijing Olympics Complex, and a Shanghai River tour.