After reaching the finals and coming in second to Japan, the U.S. National Team came home to a collective heroes welcome.
But without the championship, critics are asking, How long will their moment in the spotlight last? Beyond endorsements — including a Bank of America alliance with Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Alex Morgan as well as Solo on the cover of Sports IIllustrated — national sports groups are touting the real benefit of what the athletes did in Germany.
“It is important to remember that many of the players on the field got their start in one of the hundreds of youth soccer programs across the country,” said VJ Mayor of the Soccer Industry Council of America. “Girls represent almost 36% of all soccer players in this country. In all, there are more than five million females playing the sport of soccer right now in the United State. And nearly 70% of those five million females are under the age of 17.”
According to the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association, the global trade association of manufacturers, retailers, and marketers in the sports products industry, that level of participation provides an excellent pipeline for our elite national teams.
“The performance by our women’s national team during the World Cup just goes further to highlight how important it is, not just for girls but for all young people, to get out on the field and enjoy the many benefits from playing a great game like soccer,” said Tom Cove, CEO and president of the SGMA.
The spike in soccer interest comes at a time when Congress is considering cutting school budgets, including the Carol M. White Physical Education Program, a national physical activity initiative supported by SGMA.
According to Lynne Manual, vp-marketing for the American Youth Soccer Organization, “The youth soccer programs in this country are critical to the development of the next soccer superstars in this country – both for the girls and the boys. Players like Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and Christie Rampone need a place to get their first experiences playing soccer. It all starts with youth sports in this country and seeing the results of our World Cup team is a real delight for all of us in the sport here in the states.”