Women In Soccer

From the Magazine: The following article is from the December "Off-Season Training" Issue of Amplified Soccer Athlete. Most athletes doesn’t have the luxury of having a professional trainer plan their off-season training program for them. That’s why we’ve worked to put together some resources in this issue specifically to help you get better during the off-season. Find out more

Kristine Mason, Amplified Soccer Co-Founder, attended the 2015 Women in Soccer Symposium earlier this month. Women in Soccer was an event that brought the leaders in soccer together to discuss the women’s game and how to help it grow. Below is Kristine's recap.

The glass ceiling is being shattered in many areas of the women's game. The National Women's Soccer League is headed into it's fourth season, the 2015 Women's World Cup saw record attendance, television ratings and social media impact, and more women are playing the game than ever before.

Yet, with all of the success, there are still many shortfalls. Equal pay at the highest levels for players and coaches, fewer females than males in leadership roles, and the continued issue of retaining female coaches. 

Tackling these topics with hard action items, valuable discussion and networking were among the exciting happenings as a result of the burgeoning Women In Soccer Event

As women, how much of these trends (both positive and negative) are the fault of our own? What level of responsibility should current male and female leaders put on their shoulders? Speakers and influential voices at this one day conference shared insightful opinions and have vowed to not only continue the conversation but to take action to be the change we all want to see happen.

Kicking off the distinguished group was newly appointed NSCAA CEO, Lynn Berling-Manuel, the first woman to ever hold that title. She started by stating:

If we are waiting for culture to change, we’re going to wait a really long time. We have to change. We need to act differently.

She enlightened the audience with her 'C-R-A-C-L' acronym on how we accomplish a change in culture. This is how women need to start thinking:

C - areer. No longer think of your work path as a job. Think about it as a career. It's a function of putting together a strategy for yourself. What are the skills I need? Who are the people I need to know?  It's up to us to take the best advantage of every opportunity we have. Build a career.
R - isk. We don't take enough risk. If you don't fail reasonably regularly, you aren't trying hard enough. Women have a tendency to say that unless they know how to do it already, they won't do it. Taking a risk is really all about trying things and seeing what happens. Don't be afraid of failure. Be willing to risk. 
A - sk. Ask for what you want. If we are waiting to get that job or that promotion or the raise, we could wait a really long time. Asking is part of using your power. 
C - reate. If you don't find the opportunity that you want in soccer today, make it. Be an entrepreneur. Launch an e-newsletter, write an article, launch a camp, start a company. Put yourself out there. Do not wait for anybody to do it for you.
L - ead. Women have taken the role of "do-ers." That's important, but the reality is you need to take your seat at the table--and demand it. We can lead. If you want to be perceived as a leader, then step up and lead. 

Lynn concluded by saying:

Find your own voice. Our power is ours to take.

From the DIY perspective of a woman on the business side of this sport, attendees were then introduced to the legendary Lesle Gallimore, long-time Head Women's Soccer Coach at the University of Washington. As a Board Member of the NSCAA, a U.S. Soccer National Staff Instructor, and a natural philanthropist as a mentor to young coaches, the topic of "Paying It Forward" couldn't be more fitting. 

Her advice was to those who have been lucky enough to find a career in soccer; she urges them to share their knowledge and mentor young females. Coach Gallimore stated:

If you are fortunate and blessed to be in a profession that’s given you a lot, I think giving back is how we should all be.

As a U.S. Soccer National Staff Instructor, she has made it a goal of hers to put more women into these teaching roles. "It's really important that we take those female candidates from the coaching courses and find a place for them." She followed up by talking about how she can count the number of female youth coaches on the sidelines at ECNL events. Her thought is that if those within a position to lend a hand don't do something about it, we won't get very far with this discussion. 

As women, as people in soccer, we have a responsibility to help those coming up in the sport. Her belief is that we need to continue to give back in order to see change. "It's up to you to go find other people to bring into the fold," she said. She feels that this should be done as an act to affect the greater good; not something you are compensated for. "Be that person that's willing to do something pro-bono," she told the audience as she shared her experience of teaching a coaching course for free to young women in Morocco. 

The event continued with exciting discussion and promising plans from the Commissioner of the NWSL, Jeff Plus, leaders from U.S. Youth Soccer and the Cal South organizations; former professional female athletes, the first female referee, women who have pioneered the sport in many ways, and several others doing wonderful things to help the game grow. Staggering statistics were shared and unique ideas were brought to the table. 

If you are a young female looking to stay involved in the game, there are opportunities as coaches at all levels, in league and team offices, at non-profit organizations, and in start up companies. If you can't find something for you, then create your own path. Either way, do something you love and go for it! 

The most important point to take from a special event like this is to not let the discussion stop. The group of speakers and attendees have promised to set goals and create an action plan to achieve them. What happens next will be determined by those who commit to being the difference. Amplified Soccer will continue to support these efforts by highlighting the performances and achievements of women in soccer. We will use our platform to help market and promote the women's game and events like this one in San Diego. Our team has begun working with current and former female professional athletes to help them develop their own businesses and websites, and we have a goal continue this support so that they can continue to impact the game even after their playing careers have ended. 

Thank you Diane Scavuzzo, Goal Nation and Carrie Taylor, Director of Coaching for Laguna United Soccer Club, for creating this wonderful opportunity and to all those who came and shared their stories and experiences.