Lady Salamanders, First Ever All Women's team takes the field in Rio de Janeiro
Jessica, our 62 year old from New York, said of teammate Lisa, "I knew I was on a special team because the best player, Lisa, always spent extra time with me to make me better. Even though I was the least skilled player, I never felt like it." As for Jessica, she made sure the young girls understood the history and the culture of the country they were visiting. By arranging to go watch performances such as Capoeria (Martial Arts), the girls got an authentic Brazilian experience.
For Deqo, her favorite part about the trip was when the team went swimming together and got into sand fight. About half of the players had never been in the ocean before and others had not flown before. Jasmine had never experienced either.
If there was a single sporting moment to remember, it had to be the first victory over Norway. Leslie, our goalie, had been suffering from a badly bruised hand. The game ended in a tie and would be decided by sudden death penalty kicks. The Lady Salamanders had lost several tight matches but had really deserved this victory. Leslie, although struggling, came out and assumed good form, took proper positioning as the Norwegian player took her shot. Inching the tip of her toe out and up to the left, she deflected the shot just enough to go wide of the net. Our star player Lisa, sporting a Mohawk hairstyle, confidently slotted in her penalty to win the match. This was a true victory for the Lady Salamanders.
In Women's Win workshop at midweek, the Lady Salamanders were asked to draw pictures of leaders and describe the qualities those leaders exhibited. Jasmine spoke openly about the abuse she suffered and shared hugs with the Ugandan women who had suffered through a similar situation. In the end, all the women were told that they had drawn incorrectly; they had drawn pictures of themselves. All the pictures depicted true leaders with exceptional valor. The Lady Salamanders enjoyed the powerful workshop and the message has really stuck with them; they are truly great leaders and role models.
According to coaches Erin Swenson of Portland and Sara Silvennoinen of Ann Arbor, the ladies demonstrate real leadership qualities. "Maybe I am partial, but I think The Lady Salamanders showed more than anyone what sport for social change is all about. I have never been around a group that supported each other so much. I am so proud to have been a part of it."
Others took notice of the Lady Salamanders as well. Jasmine and Lisa were pictured in a NIKE sponsored photo shoot sporting their matching hairstyles and ESPN wrote an article featuring the ladies in a September issue.
The Lady Salamanders, the women's national program, was launched in 2010. Women's participation in the Street Soccer USA Cup has increased by 800% as a result. 8 women were chosen to travel to the Homeless World Cup in Rio.
In 2011 the Lady Salamanders intend to increase participation among women in existing Street Soccer cities and beyond.
Please email email@example.com to learn more about the Lady Salamander program.