A group of young Mohawk women are preparing to represent Canada on the soccer pitch at the end of October, when more than 2,000 athletes from 30 countries will converge in Brazil for the first World Indigenous Games.

“I've always dreamed of it, but now that the dream is actually coming true it's a little unbelievable,” said 19-year-old player Wynonna Cross.  

Most of the 20-player team is based in Vancouver, but Cross and eight other young women from Mohawk communities near Montreal have been selected for the Canadian team at the inaugural event.

“That's what's the biggest thing is, for the doors to be opened, for not only these girls but the future generations,” said assistant coach Harry Rice.

The World Indigenous Games begin in Brazil Oct. 23. Many of the players are excited to compete against other aboriginal athletes from different countries.

“I'm excited to hear about their traditions, and their values and everything, It's more than you can learn in a textbook or school,” said 18-year-old player Rachel Leborgne.

Most of the Mohawk players on the team have known each other for years, but have had limited time to practice with their western Canadian teammates. Cross, for example, has yet to meet them.

“It's the first season I'm playing with these girls as well. And once we just started together we really just play as a team, so I'm expecting the same when we get there, just meet the girls and be able to play as a team,” she said.

Win or lose, Leborne is ready for the experience.

“I love the sport and I'm playing for fun, so as long as I'm with my teammates and having a good time, that will be enough for me,” said Leborgne.

The team has organized several fundraising efforts to help them get to Brazil, because the cost per player is about $1,700 for travel. They leave Oct. 17.