FounderFirst Woman Inductee: Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame Publisher: Free Kick Magazine www.FreeKickMag.com
United States Soccer Federation “A” Coaching License Former Member Canadian National Team 3 NCAA National Championships: University of North Carolina 4 National Titles: Canada, Japan, USA National Finalist: France, USA, Canada Attended the following World Cup’s & Olympics 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010, 2014 World Cup 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003, Women’s World Cup 1992, 1996, 2004, 2010 Summer & Winter Olympics
I have experienced a fantastic career in soccer because every time I stepped out to train or play, I gave my very best with the talents I was given. There is nothing that can be taken away from your career or journey when the intention in your heart and efforts is full. For me, soccer has been a spiritual journey and a study in character and humanity.
In 1991, I watched 9 of my teammates and my head coach Anson Dorrance from the University of North Carolina win the first FIFA Women’s World Cup in China. It was a dream to witness the sport I loved and believed in being so appreciated in full stadiums with FIFA marketing throughout the city. Everything changed at that moment because for the first time, women’s soccer was really validated.
I believe on many levels that soccer can change the world for girls if they have the opportunity to play. It already does for boys and men.
Over the years and many stories in between, one thing that has become apparent on a not so fair play way of seeing things is that men are running almost all aspects of girls and women’s soccer, and they are profiting from it. Meanwhile, very few women ever create a career in soccer or have a chance to make executive decisions even for their own game.
In January during the Women’s Olympic Qualifications, FIFA held a Symposium to groom over the results from the 2011 Women’s World Cup in Germany. The push to use former national team players was addressed as an important mandate since these individuals have experience and they understand the soccer world at a higher level. As stated by FIFA, “they are committed and they will fight for the game.” At the end of the morning, the moderator offered the room of several hundred delegates, ambassadors, national coaches and the like an opportunity to ask questions. I saw this as the chance to state the obvious.
There was a long silence.
“I don’t think there are enough competent woman,” was the response from Bruno Bini, the French National coach, followed by a hushed snicker throughout the room. Before the women presenters on stage had a chance to catch up with the translation, the moderator ended the morning for lunch. Barely an eye caught mine when they all got up to leave.
That evening at BC Place as I was strolling through the CONCACAF stadium crowd, a group of top women delegates surrounded me and told me, “what you said today was one of the most important points ever brought up at a FIFA Women’s Symposium. We have been talking about it all day and it has to be readdressed. You are so courageous to step up and say this, we would lose our jobs.” We spoke for a long time and I had goose bumps and shivers throughout my entire body. I told them, I had nothing to lose.
As a former national team player, the list is long as to why girls and women benefit from being active and playing sports like soccer. We all know the reasons. And we also know how the World Cup can transform societies. I was in South Africa during the 2010 World Cup as a journalist for my magazine Free Kick and I had the chance to speak to a former prisoner on Robben Island where Nelson Mandela spent 19 years locked up fighting for equality. He said, “what transformed in the past month where blacks and whites are together shoulder to shoulder and just seeing each other just as South Africans would have taken generations to accomplish without the World Cup.” I see the same opportunity here in Canada and abroad for girls and women to be treated fairly and with more respect on and off the field.
Off the field, Canadian women earn 67% compared to their male counterpart and we represent 24-25% of political offices. These are just a few figures that we all know are disproportionately out of sync. If there was ever an opportunity in the recent history of Canada for transformation to occur to better the standing for girls and women in all areas of their lives, this is our time to create legacies for the future.
My goal is that we can all work together to make these transformations possible.
* Note. I also love men’s soccer and I am greatly appreciative to many of the excellent male coaches and supporters in my career