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The eleventh annual Global Ambassadors Bowl returns to Europe next week when Team Stars & Stripes heads to Italy.

The select squad features high school senior student athletes from Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and will head to Italy this Saturday, March 31. Following a week of educational sightseeing and time on the practice field, Team Stars & Stripes will face the FIDAF (Federazione Italiana Di American Football) Lazio Regional Selection team on Saturday, April 7, at the Stadio Comunale L’Ariola in Cave, 25 miles from Rome, kickoff 2pm.

The Italian host team, featuring the region’s best under-19 American football players, will be selected from players from Marines Lazio, Roma Grizzlies, Gladiatori Roma, Minatori Cave, Bufali Latina and Legio XIII Ostia, and will be coached by Bart Iaccarino and the staff of the Lazio Ducks.

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 the Czech Republic & Germany (2016). Last year’s event and game were held in China for the first time. Team Stars & Stripes hold an 8-2 overall record.

“What a thrill it will be to return to Italy with our high school-aged Team Stars & Stripes, after taking this Ambassadors Bowl to China last year,” said Global Football President and founder Patrick Steenberge. “Rome offers such fabulous sites and learning opportunities, and visiting the ruins of Pompeii will be very special for everyone on the tour. It is always fascinating to watch the eyes of our young student athletes open wide to the wonders they see, and Southern Italy is full of them.

“I am intrigued to have our players and coaches face off against an All-Star team from the Lazio region, as Fabrizio Cupellini of FIDAF always does an outstanding job of organizing the Italian team. I am ready!”

While in Italy, the traveling party will visit Naples, the ancient ruins of Pompeii, then move on to Sorrento and Rome. In Italy’s capital, they will see the famous Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps, make a visit to the Pantheon and Piazza Navona and take a guided tour of the Coliseum and ancient Roman Forum.

The final day of sightseeing starts with a private Mass in the crypt at St. Peter’s Basilica, followed by a guided tour of the Vatican Museum, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter’s Basilica.

“My son Rory was privileged to have the experience of a lifetime when he traveled to China in 2017 with Global Football,” said Colleen Foley, the mother of one of the Global Football travelers in 2017. “It was truly an experience he will never forget, meeting players from around the U.S. that he still keeps in touch with, while playing football in China. Rory still talks about the best trip of his life!”

Team Stars & Stripes will again be led by head coach Bill Gallagher, who played in the same backfield as Patrick Steenberge at Notre Dame and has taken charge of Team Stars & Stripes for the past four European journeys overseas, visiting France, Germany, Italy, Ireland and Spain, and was a member of last year’s staff in China.

John Storey has been a member of the Team Stars & Stripes squad’s coaching staff every year on visits to Japan, China and Europe. He first traveled with Global Football in 1997 as the offensive line coach with John Carroll University, and most recently as a coach for the NCAA D-III select team at the Tazon de Estrellas in Mexico.

Coach Evan Sharpley enjoyed an athletic career that took him from playing quarterback for the University of Notre Dame to traveling the nation playing baseball as part of the Seattle Mariners organization. He now operates Sharpley Training, for athletes looking for next level speed, agility, explosiveness, strength, and conditioning training.