From a project called Stacy’s Rise, the members of the American women’s national soccer side are using their experience as female entrepreneurs to help to support other women’s businesses who sell everything from coffee to lingerie, as part of the team’s mission to try to level the playing field for women.
The project will award to 15 female entrepreneurs $10,000 each, as well as advertising services and executive mentorship from successful women, as in the case of U.S. soccer World Cup champions Christen Press and Tobin Heath.
Press, 31, and Heath, 32, who launched the online clothing retailer Re-Inc last year with teammates Megan Rapinoe and Meghan Klingenberg, said they wanted to impart some of the lessons they learned from that life changing experience.
The two have been used to travelling their entire lives, thanks to soccer. Planning to be in Japan right now looking to be a part of the attempt to win a World Cup and Olympic Gold medal back-to-back as members of American national team, instead, they’ve been staying home, focusing on their training and supporting other women.
“The exciting part is sharing our experiences as female entrepreneurs with others.
“And coming from a sports background, we have amazing access to people and a world-class team. And we’ve had amazing mentors.”
Heath said she felt very privileged to “get to give” back.
“What we’ve gained from mentorship to what we’ll be able to give to these 15 winners is powerful,” she added.
Long legal battle
The team seized many newspapers’ headlines last year when it filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer, denouncing its gender discrimination.
A judge threw out players’ claims that they were underpaid in comparison with the men’s team but allowed claims over unfair medical services, travel and training to proceed to trial, which is set for September 15, 2020. Currently, the teams have a long battle ahead of them, planning to appeal the ruling over wages.
Press doesn’t lose her heart though, and rather than be discouraged, she is inspired by the outpouring of support for their cause.
“Our lawsuit was never going to be easy and we knew that going into it,” she explained.
“No team is better prepared for a long and hard fight than the U.S. women’s national team.”
Press, who is a black player for the Utah Royals FC of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), said she had been inspired by the protests against racial injustice that followed the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was brutally murdered in police custody in Minneapolis in May.
And even though the coronavirus pandemic has been devastating, she said it had also created a space for people to reflect on the type of world in which they want to live in.
“It is both sides of the coin and an emotional rollercoaster, but I think in my lifetime this is one of the greatest opportunities to create systemic change,” she pointed out.
COVID-19 has forced the postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Games, where the team was favoured to win a fifth Olympic gold medal.
Heath, a player for the Portland Thorns of the National Women's Soccer League (NWSL), claimed that the players were very disappointed for not being able to play, but will be ready when the international competition will resume.
“There will be a time when hopefully everything can return safely,” Heath said.
“And I know for myself and Christen, we are looking forward to that and will be ready once it comes.”