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The Lebdaoui twins continue to push each other towards lofty goals

Published: Jul. 5, 2021 at 7:35 PM CDT
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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) -They are two key members of the Arnold Soccer Program, one on the girls side, the other on the boys side. Both helping their teams last season make it to the state finals, with the Boys team winning it all! These two siblings, like many, driving by their sibling rivalries, which are common in the world of sports. For Olivia and Ben Lebdaoui though, the competition runs a little deeper, as these twins use their internal competition to “level up” on the pitch.

September 15th, 2003, born just a minute apart, Olivia and Ben Lebdaoui’s rivalry began. “I mean, it’s just always been a competition really.” says Ben Lebdaoui, who is looking ahead to his senior season at Arnold. The twins began playing the game of soccer at age four moving from rec leagues to travel ball working on their game, in their extra time, with their dad.

“My dad is super intense.” says Olivia “He really pushes us. He is the reason we are so good. He takes us out to practice. He teaches us these skills that I wouldn’t have known without him.” While the skills may be learned from dad, the rivalry was created by the twins.

“Just competition in the house with every little thing. “ Ben says. “Competitions when we go to practices together. Just competition everywhere.”

“You don’t want to be the twin that isn’t as good.” Olivia adds “Anybody asks, you’re the better one. Even if that isn’t true, you just stick with it. That’s your story.” Larry Cecchini has seen the twins in action coaching both. Ben with the Roots and Olivia with Arnold, where he’s the head coach of the girls team. And when the playoffs began this spring, he saw the competition up close and personal. “I could definitely tell by talking to Olivia and Ben that they were both rooting for each other, but there was a little competition about maybe ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if we won one more game than they did?’ They were obviously still rooting for each other and both wanted both to be in the state championship.”

With the rivalry also comes support. “He doesn’t think so, but we are best friends,” Olivia told me. “So my best friend does everything the same as me. I just want to be better, and he is always there to push me, so it’s awesome. I love it.” A loving bond that started before birth.. soccer siblings who are each other’s greatest rival.. and greatest fan. As for next season, unfortunately, Olivia will not play her senior season. She tore her ACL earlier this summer. She remains committed to FSU and will join the Seminole roster in 2022. Ben has not decided where he will play college soccer yet. Before all that though, Ben will play out his senior season, with his twin sister rooting him on in a very big way!

“Last year I felt like I didn’t watch enough games.” Olivia says “The year before I feel like I didn’t watch enough games. I just want to be there for like every game because I love watching him. I saw a few games without him there and it was fun but I mean I love watching him. So I’m going to be at everyone’s game because I’m not practicing and doing as much any more. So I’m just going to be like the designated Arnold Soccer cheerleader.”

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