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Graduate performs at FIFA opening

27 July, 2023
News and events

An OPAIC graduate had the experience of a lifetime dancing in the opening ceremony of the FIFA Women’s World Cup last week.

Angela Louise (Angel) Arevalo studied a Graduate Diploma in Accounting with us in 2016 and also worked as a peer tutor and receptionist here.

Her former boss, OPAIC ICT and Facilities manager Sonny Teio, told her about the opportunity to be part of the opening ceremony. Sonny is also taking part in the tournament as a volunteer driver for VIP guests.

Angel says she was keen to take part because the event is all about unity, diversity, and women’s empowerment.

She was picked to lead one of 32 dance groups to perform at the opening ceremony. Each group represented a different country competing in the tournament.

“There were almost 200 of us and I had no idea how it would be managed by the production team. I was so curious to witness the whole process and be able to bring their idea to life,” says Angel.

Each dance group was assigned a country, with Angela’s group representing Vietnam. Rehearsals took place on weekends near her home on the North Shore.

Head Choreographer Andrew Cesan taught the performers the dance, which was called Unity Dance.

“I gained new connections and new friends through the rehearsals. We met every weekend. Each rehearsal was incredible,” says Angel.

On the night of the ceremony, they danced on the field at Eden Park in front of a crowd of more than 42,000 as singers Benee and Mallrat performed the official song of the tournament.

“That was a superb 10 minutes. Meaningful and the best moment of our lives.”

Angel says she gained self-confidence and created great memories with the other performers.

Her dance group was a diverse one. None were originally from Vietnam, but all were happy to represent the nation which is making its first world cup appearance.

Angel, originally from the Philippines, has close friends from Vietnam and they were excited that she was chosen to represent their country.

They’ve told her the tournament is all over the news in their country and they’ve even seen Angel in the coverage.

“My colleague told me that while she was browsing local news, she saw my face. For me, that was beyond incredible because just dancing in a large field with an amazing crowd was already awe-inspiring. I felt so lucky that I had a cool photo published in their local news.”

Angel made her mark during her time studying with us, picking up Top Achiever awards and participating in a leadership programme.

For the last four and a half years she’s been working at Provident Insurance in Takapuna where she is now a Finance and Payroll Officer.