Brandi Chastain believes that the growth of women’s football is helping to create changes in culture on a global scale.
Chastain played for the US women’s national team from 1988 to 2004 and scored the winning penalty in the 1999 World Cup final against China.
She now acts as coach and mentor for the Allstate All-American roster, a program that recognises the best high-school soccer players in the US.
Speaking at the launch of the 2019 Women’s International Champions Cup, the 50-year-old says the opportunity to promote such events is critical to the future success of the game.
“There’s so many conversations we can have about the importance of young girls playing team sports,” she said. “What do they get? What are the life lessons? What are the takeaways that will change their life forever?
“Then you think about how soccer exists around the world. Globally it’s embraced by every country for the most part and it’s starting to be embraced in the same way on the women’s side.
“That speaks a lot, because that’s cultural change, it’s paradigm shifts, it’s recognising that there’s this whole other population of people who enjoy, play and work in an environment that supports the game.
“To speak about it in the same breath I feel is critical to our success, but really to the success of the game as an institution both here in the US and everywhere.”
The 2019 Women’s ICC will pit four of the best teams in the world against one another during August, as reigning champions North Carolina Courage are joined by Olympique Lyonnais, Manchester City and Atletico Madrid.
Chastain believes the tournament can fill the void for quality women’s soccer in between major international competitions.
“It is incredibly important what the ICC is doing”, she added. “So many times we look at the national team as gold standard.
“Yes, it is because it’s all the elite players, but the problem with that is that World Cups and Olympics only come around every four years. In between that we have to keep women’s soccer alive.
“To be able to talk about the ICC bringing international club teams over to play against our NWSL sides, I’m like a kid in a candy store! It’s the greatest thing ever.”
The tournament will open with Olyimpique Lyonnais taking on Atletico Madrid on Thursday, August 15, at Sahlen’s Stadium at WakeMed Soccer Park.
The match will be followed by NC Courage facing Manchester City, with the winners of each game meeting in the final the following Sunday.
That game will be preceded by the third-place match between the two semi-final losers and Chastain believes the tournament will be an excellent showcase for women’s football.
“The fact it’s the second time we’re hosting international club teams in America against an NWSL team is phenomenal,” she said.
“It used to be a male-dominated arena, now to see it (women’s soccer) broadcast and shared. Gender is not an issue. It is soccer. That to me shows tremendous growth. We talk about tactics and in general, not about genders.
“We have to continue to foster excitement around the women’s game and one way to do that is to host the International Champions Cup.”
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