Sam’s Blog will be a weekly addition to the US Youth Soccer Blog. Sam Snow is the Director of Coaching Education for US Youth Soccer.
Recently I received an inquiry from a student in Sweden on the status of soccer for females in the U.S.A. and how we got to the point of having so many girls playing soccer. The questions are ones that bring clarity for us too on our fortunate circumstance of having soccer being so well accepted by both boys and girls. Here are the questions and my replies.
What possibilities are there for a woman to be a good soccer player in the USA? In general I say the possibilities are good here for females to develop into good players. We have over 1.5 million girls playing soccer at the youth level. Their opportunities for a good club soccer environment are almost as good as the boys and in most cases just as good as what the boys have. The girls have every opportunity to play in high school and the chances of the girls playing in college is better than the chances for the boys and they are more likely to receive athletic scholarship money than the boys. On the other hand their chances to play at the semiprofessional or professional levels are not as good as for the men. The girls have the same chances to participate in the US Youth Soccer Olympic Development Program as do the boys.
Do men/boys have the same possibilities to be a good soccer player as girls/women, if not, what is the difference? The boys have good chances to become good players too. The opportunities at the club and high school level are as good as the ones for the girls and in some parts of the country the chances are better for the boys. It is at the college level that the girls have a better chance of a scholarship than the boys since colleges give more money for the female soccer teams than for the male ones. This is because the colleges put more money into the boys’ American football teams than anything else. While the boys may not have access to as much athletic scholarship money for soccer as do the girls there are in fact more teams at the college level for the boys, but not many more.
Are there youth teams, school teams, clubs where they can play? In US Youth Soccer we have 4500 clubs across the country. There are other youth soccer organizations so there may be as many as 7000 clubs in the country for youth soccer players, boys and girls. There are thousands of high school soccer teams (boys & girls) in the U.S.A. and there are hundreds of college soccer teams for men and women at several levels of competition.
Which leagues can women's/girls’ teams play in, in the USA? Most of the leagues are at the youth amateur level. At the semi-professional and professional levels there is the W-League.
Here is the link for their web site for more information: http://wleague.uslsoccer.com/index.html.
Are WUSA going to start again, in that case, when? There is a business plan that has the WUSA returning in 2008, but that is not yet confirmed.
Have you got any idea or knowledge why women soccer in the USA is so big, for example if you compare it to men's soccer or other countries women soccer?
Soccer is a big sport for women in the U.S.A. due to several factors. In 1972 the U.S. Congress passed Title IX. This law requires colleges and universities that receive any funds from the federal government to give equal opportunity and funding to female sports as they do to male sports. This occurred at a time that American society was also becoming more accepting of girls participation in sports. This also happened at a time when the ‘soccer boom’ occurred in this country. The ‘soccer boom’ was when interest in playing soccer exploded in the U.S.A. and the game moved into the mainstream of our society. Prior to 1970 the game was played here but predominately in ethic enclaves of German or English or Italian or Argentinean or Jamaican immigrants and so on.
So soccer sought out girls to play and that was different than the established sports of football, baseball and basketball who did not accept girls in their sport at first. Soccer was trying to grow so we invited everyone to play, male or female, good athlete or poor one. The girls who play soccer here today owe many thanks to the pioneering efforts of the girls and women of the 1970s and the 1980s.