USWNT Team up for mental health
"We want to demonstrate that vulnerability is a sign of strength.”
The US Women’s National Team and Common Goal have united to ensure mental health conversations can become a focus in soccer ahead of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.
On the eve of the tournament, and led by defender Naomi Girma and in collaboration with FOX Sports, the squad have come together to release a powerful statement on the issue. Girma is leading the innovative mental health initiative with the support of forward Sophia Smith and fellow defender Sofia Huerta through a three-part feature series and multiple public service announcements aired throughout the tournament.
Support also comes from FOX Sports, America’s English-language home for the FIFA World Cup, who have pledged 1% of their World Cup airtime to discussing the importance of mental health across its platforms.
In an op-ed in The Players' Tribune, Girma detailed her motivation to launch a mental health project after the loss of Stanford University teammate and best friend, Katie Meyer, and to initiate a call to action for healing across the sport.
“My goal is to humanize all of us,” said Girma. “Through our collective voice, throughout this tournament and beyond, we want to demonstrate that vulnerability is a sign of strength.”
Girma and Smith, both Stanford Class of 2021 and 2022 National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) number one draft picks, want players and fans to know they aren’t alone. The USWNT players are coming together to prioritize mental well-being across the sport, from the grassroots to the professional level.
In a collective video, USWNT stars Alex Morgan, Sophia Smith, Sofia Huerta, Julie Ertz, Alyssa Thompson, Alana Cook, Naomi Girma, Andi Sullivan, Megan Rapinoe and Trinity Rodman share their common goal for mental healing.
“The struggle isn’t always visible on the outside and that’s why welcoming vulnerability is so important,” said Smith. “I want to use my platform to help create positive change and speak more about something that so many people are struggling with in silence.”
The video transcript is as follows:
Hey, it’s me.
Everyday we face adversity.
I know how you feel. I’ve been there too.
The mental hurdles seem high, but I’m here to support you.
Sure, some days you feel like it’s too much. But you got this.
You. Got. This.
Dig in. Reach out. Vulnerability is a sign of strength, not weakness.
You are not alone.
Together, we have a Common Goal.
Together, we are unstoppable.
Let’s do this.
Following the tournament, Common Goal’s mental health initiative will bring together coaches from more than 15 sports-based youth development organizations working in under-resourced communities across the United States. The immersive training will teach positive coping strategies and provide personal support in communities who historically do not have access to mental health resources.
The training will be led by mental health professionals in order to equip coaches with the language, skills, and understanding to support players struggling with anxiety, depression, and loneliness. In addition, the initiative intends to train players from select NWSL teams on how to best integrate emotional well-being within their sporting environments.
“It’s long overdue that our soccer communities put mental health at the forefront when we discuss player care,” said Lilli Barrett-O’Keefe, Executive Director of Common Goal USA. “We are determined to create a culture shift, at all levels of the game, following this summer’s World Cup. We are grateful for the players that are pushing this narrative forward and holding us all accountable to not only talk but act.”
Organizations supporting this initiative include Founding Partner FOX Sports and its parent company Fox Corporation with support from Women in Soccer, E-Motion, football content and media company Footballco and its women's football brand Indivisa.
“In a World Cup year, we have the unique opportunity to leave a lasting impact both on and off the pitch. It’s important to me to amplify this cause on the world’s biggest stage and take action with other players to create meaningful change,” said Naomi Girma, USWNT & San Diego Wave FC.