“I am building a fire, and everyday I train, I add more fuel. At just the right moment, I light the match.” -Mia Hamm
Ever since the day I picked up my first soccer ball, it’s been a great passion in my life. I spent nights, weekends, and many holidays traveling with the roughly the same team of girls for about 10 years, one of which is still one of my best friends to this day. For the last few weeks I have been lost in the 2010 South Africa World Cup. It’s absolutely fascinating to me. As I’ve been watching these amazing athletes compete, I’ve been reminiscing a lot about my times as a player. I learned so much in my time playing soccer, about sportsmanship, perseverance, friendship, and myself. My coaches taught me how to keep going when I thought I had no strength left in my body. My teammates taught me the meaning of friendship, sharing and team work. And then there was Mia.
Mia Hamm (now Mia Garciaparra), my childhood hero, taught me that any adversity could be overcome to achieve whatever your dream you may dream, whether it be winning a world cup in soccer or pursuing higher education (mine ended up being the latter). I will always remember the Mia Hamm poster that I hung in my room as a little girl. I vaguely remember it said something about how she loved orange soda, which I do too. I even chose the number 9 for a while because that was Mia’s number. Every little girl has their heroes, and Mia was mine.
Mia was born with a club foot and had to wear corrective shoes as a child, yet she has scored more international goals than any other US soccer player in history, male or female. She has two Olympic medals and was part of two FIFA women’s world cup championship winning teams. Not only was she a stellar athlete, but Mia, now a mother of twins, is also an author. She wrote a children’s book called “Winners Never Quit,” about the value of sportsmanship and perseverance. She achieved many firsts in her lengthy soccer career and inspired so many young girls to follow their dreams as well. Soccer ended up not being my calling in life, but through the playing of the game I learned so many valuable life lessons that have gotten me to where I am today. So, as I’m intently watching the Chile v. Brasil match on TV, I must say thank you, Mia.
Today, one of my modern day heroes, Queen Rania, has backed the 1Goal campaign promoting the completion of primary schooling by all boys and girls by 2015 AND to ensure that girls have the opportunity for education on all levels by 2015. On October 6th 2009, the 1GOAL campaign kicked off in a satellite-linked ceremony led by the 2010 FIFA World Cup host, South Africa President Jacob Zuma, Her Majesty Rania Al-Abdullah, Queen of Jordan, President of Ghana John Atta Mills, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, President of Spain, Jan Peter Balkenende, Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia, Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State, Ban Ki-Moon, the UN Secretary General and Sepp Blatter, the FIFA President. So far 9,630,974 people have joined. This combines two of my great loves: soccer and promoting education. Through the awareness that the 1Goal campaign receives, perhaps we will be able make significant progress towards the goal of promoting the girls and women’s opportunity for a quality education worldwide.
Hopefully all of you are enjoying the World Cup as much as I am (other than the heartbreaking defeat of the US team the other day!) Happy Maisy Monday!