NYC's young female footballers cheer on the US Women’s National Soccer Team
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The women of the US national team will play their first game in the Women’s World Cup on Tuesday against Thailand. Aspiring young soccer players in Brooklyn, New York, have found inspiration in their journey.
The view of the Manhattan skyline from Pier 5 by Brooklyn Bridge Park is particularly beautiful on a summer's evening, but players for Park Slope United soccer club have their eyes firmly on the ball.
At least half the players at this training session are girls. They range in age from five to eighteen. Three years ago there were only 12 girls in this football club in Brooklyn – now there are 200.
Football is a popular sport for women in the United States and these players are rooting their national team.
Their coach, Nate Stuart, told FRANCE 24 the skills they learn here will serve them well in life.
“Here you get a lot of boys vs girls. They don’t separate them, they usually play with each other and so you’ll get a lot of girls being overly aggressive, trying to make an impression and push people around. I think it is really good for them to be aggressive and confident, because when they go into other aspects of their lives then they feel the same way about themselves.”
Aaron Bischer grins as he talks about his 7-year-old daughter Naomie's passion for the game. He says that he signed her up at the start of the school year to teach her team spirit and endurance. “I love how they really get into sports and how aggressive they are. They play really hard,” he says.
The only shadow cast across the game for these players is the fact that professional female footballers get paid less than their male counterparts. It’s hard for 18-year-old footballer Emilia Garfield to understand.
“They should be paid more,” she told FRANCE 24. “Their achievements are so much more the the men’s. They’ve obviously won the World Cup before, so hopefully we can do it again. The men didn’t even qualify last year. So that just shows women are a lot better.”
On March 8, 28 members of the US women’s national team filed a gender discrimination lawsuit. The athletes said the discrimination had, for years, affected their salaries, where they play, how often and how they train, and the medical treatment and coaching they receive.
The US are the defending champions at the Women’s World Cup in France. They have won three Women's World Cup titles and four Olympic women's gold medals. The US team is No. 1 in the FIFA world ranking.
And these young players from the Park Slope soccer club will be cheering on their national team – some have already bought their tickets for the final in Lyon.