Youth Olympic Festival in Sydney kicks off for stars of future

Jan. 16, 2013, 1:07 p.m. (ET)

They are the stars of the future, and the athletes competing at the Australian Youth Olympic Festival (AYOF) were treated to a spectacular event during the Opening Ceremony last night at Sydney Entertainment Centre.

More than 1,600 athletes celebrated the opening of the Australian Youth Olympic Festival, which was filled with performers dancing and singing their way through songs from One Direction and Miley Cyrus. The Olympic colors and spirit were also reflected by the performers as they showcased their singing, dancing and acrobatic skills throughout the ceremony. 

In keeping with the Olympic tradition, the crowd was treated to a parade of athletes, flag bearers march, taking of the athlete and officials' oath and the lighting of the cauldron. Lara (Nikki) Parsley (Milford, DE) was named the flag bearer for the United States and lead the U.S. delegation into the Olympic Stadium.

Reading a message from International Committee President Dr Jacques Rogge, Australian Olympic Committee President John Coates highlights the friendships forged at the AYOF.

"In the coming days you will compete against and make friends with athletes from all over Australia and 30 countries around the world who share the same passion about your sport as you do," Coates said. "In addition to giving the very best of yourselves on the field of play, you will also share unforgettable moments off the field of play."

Finishing with a glow light spectacular to LMFAO's 'Party Rock Anthem', the 2013 AYOF Opening Ceremony set the scene for an exciting festival.

Both the U.S. Junior Men's and Women's Teams faced their first opponent yesterday prior to the Opening Ceremony. Although, the U.S. Junior Men faced a tough 7-0 loss against Australia in their opening match, Head Coach Chris Clements said that he was pleased with the teams performance and impressed with their skill level against such a strong and developed opponent. 

"Our biggest take away from today's performance is that our young men can play against one of the top nations in the world," said Clements. "Although the scoreline does not represent that, we were able to compete for periods of time, as well as withhold pressure better than ever before playing against a superior opponent." 

Clements hope that the team plays with same intensity against their next opponent, Malaysia. 

The U.S. Junior Women's Team also faced a tough loss in their opening match, falling 5-2 to China. Taylor Rhea and Jordan Page were the two goalscorers for the U.S. They will face host nation Australia in match No. 2 on January 17. 

For more information, visit the event page on or the official AYOF website