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'Soccer means everything to me' | Fans celebrate after Atlanta named a World Cup host city

Atlanta was named a host city for FIFA's 2026 games.

COBB COUNTY, Ga. — Soccer fans and players are excited to learn the World Cup will be in their backyard.

For younger players, it’ll be a chance to be closer to their heroes than ever before.

Fans at Mud Creek Soccer Complex in Cobb County expressed their excitement after FIFA announced US host cities.

Children and teens were practicing and had no idea Atlanta won its bid to host an event in 2026. Once news broke, fans celebrated saying being a host city means more than seeing a match -- it's about seeing the future.

For some young athletes, they see more than the soccer ball in front of them, they see a circle of opportunity and how they're inching closer toward the goal.

"Soccer means everything to me," Rooby Delusma, a trainer and athlete said. 

Delusma has been a fan and a player his whole life. He knows the discipline of the game.

"Soccer is the thing that keeps me out of trouble," he said.

RELATED: FIFA announces 2026 World Cup US sites

He passes this message on to some of the smallest athletes, hoping to one day wear a pro jersey.

"Give them the tools so they can get to the next level," he explained. 

He said a World Cup game played in Atlanta would make a perfect goal.

"A World Cup is a big thing," he said. "I think that will be a big opening for kids that love the game but they don't have the opportunity to see it in their faces."

Gonzalo Hurtado echoed Delusma, calling it a dream that's closer within his reach.

"I'm crazy excited," the 16-year-old said. "I would never think I'd be able to see a game, potentially, which I'll definitely try to go to one."

The soccer player and Premier League fan has been lacing up his cleats all of his life and working on his footwork to hopefully go pro. Like his teacher, he knows it takes discipline.

"There's no time off if you want to go far," he said. 

Now he, and other young athletes like him will have a chance to see how far discipline can take you.

"For younger kids, like my little brothers, that's probably really big for them and motivate them more for them to see that, how close it is for home," he said.

Delusma will be there to encourage kids to catch a glimpse of the international event coming to the Peach State and help them run toward that future.

"My job (is) to help others that love the game and hopefully (they're) not just watching the game playing in Atlanta -- but they can play in the World Cup," he said.

So while a crowd of thousands will see a World Cup 2026 event, others will see all the possibilities that discipline, determination and some fancy footwork can bring.

   

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