June 26, 2020
Returning once during Workshop Week, the event series Beyond Soccer brought together expert speakers to take a look at gender equality and inclusion in the sport and industry – on and off the field.
Attendees were able to get in on the ground floor of the new inclusive, interactive and impactful Women in Soccer network which will champion women personally and professionally, leverage collective efforts to increase gender equity in the soccer industry, celebrate the women’s game and support organizations that use soccer for social impact.
The opening segment focus was on the future of soccer as a tool for social change and joining the conversation was Tony Carter, Director of Programs at Soccer in the Streets, NYCFC Youth Coach Yasmine Sanchez, Director of Fundacion Sleccion Colombia Ana Arizabaleta and Nick Sprague, Head of Special Projects for Miami FC.
The discussion centered on how the youth can help lead the fight for social change. The panel expressed their concern for young athletes not being comfortable using their voices in the community. Carter spoke to coaches and parents saying that actively listening to kids and having them take more ownership of their thoughts and words is going to improve their ability to comfortably speak up against the issues they see every day.
The group all believed that in order for sport, specifically soccer in this case, to make a change is off the field. "We can still create change, but first we need to figure out what is the change we need to make. I don't think of a solution right away. Think systemically about how the problem came about. " Sanchez said in conclusion.
Following that was a pair of soccer powerhouses coming together to discuss the state of soccer for women in the US and off the field. Tracy Hamm, head women’s soccer coach at UC Davis, and Mary McVeigh Connor, Co-Founder and Executive Director at Soccer Without Borders joined forces to discuss the opportunity to reshape the sport around these core values that the world is dealing with right now.
Connor put emphasis on learning what the player wants to take away from playing the sport rather than making them feel they have to be in it for a specific goal. When asked about what needs to be done to continue an upward trend of female leaders in the sport Hamm stated, “I try to live the solution & bring women along. Make sure they are appreciated for their knowledge & experience - a holistic approach which leads to higher performance & longevity in their career, making them want to stay in the sport.”
Capping off a great day of conversation for change from a wide variety of leaders in both the sporting world and the corporate world was a panel of very passionate women. Courtney Levinsohn, founder at Women in Soccer, Ebru Koksal from Women in Football, a student leader from Girl Up, Quinn McGill and Nikole Collins-Puri, CEO at Techbridge Girls all had contribution to the topic of the power of a network for women.
“Women need to celebrate other women’s success in order to see the female contribution overall in sport and off the field,” McGill said.
Learn more about the groundbreaking Women in Soccer community here.