(July 28, 2013)-Eighteen members of the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) joined forces with the nonprofit group Athlete Ally this past week. These players have pledged to become ambassadors in their sport in the fight against homophobia as well as seeking to educate other athletes regarding LGBT issues.
Athlete Ally was founded in 2011 by Hudson Taylor who wrestled in college and felt that there was a need for more straight athletes to step up against the ignorance and misrepresentation of gay athletes.
Athlete Ally has grown in numbers over the past few years as gay and straight athletes from a variety of sports have banded together to help educate professional and amateur athletes from around the world about LGBT issues.
Sarah Huffman a player with the Western NY Flash is credited with organizing the effort with her fellow NWSL players and made this statement through the Athlete Ally website.
“I am proud to be an athlete ally because I dream of a world full of equal opportunities and treatment. I believe that sports are a place where everybody belongs. Discrimination based upon sexual orientation, race, gender have no place in the world – nevertheless sports. I am excited to be an ally and stand up for people like me in the LGBT community.”
Six out of the eight NWSL teams are represented by the eighteen women who have pledged to be a part of this vision and include: Heather O’Reilly and Sydney Leroux from the Boston Breakers, Sarah Huffman, Abby Wambach, Estelle Johnson, and training players Ashley Walsh and Ashley Grove from the Western New York Flash, Megan Rapinoe, Keelin Winters, and Liz Bogus of the Seattle Reign, Lydia Vandenbergh, Erin McLeod, Leslie Osborne and Amy LePeilbet of the Chicago Red Stars, Karina LeBlanc, Meleana Shim and Marian Dougherty from the Portland Thorns, and Lori Lindsey from the Washington Spirit.
Megan Rapinoe who came out last year shortly before the London Olympics is one of five players that took the Ally pledge that also represent the U.S. Women’s National team.
“I want to be an Ally because I have walked in your shoes, and walked the road ahead of you, and want you to know you will be okay, and you have more support than you ever dared to dream of.” she said in a statement on the Athlete Ally website.
Rapinoe is joined by one of the most well known players in women’s soccer in Abby Wambach who is also lending her support to the group. Wambach is the reigning FIFA 2012 Player of the Year and also currently holds the record for most international goals. Wambach made this statement about why she is giving her support to the organization.
“I am honored to be apart of an organization that works to create an environment, in all locker rooms, for all people, who want to PLAY, regardless of any differences we have. To be apart of a team has taught me more about people’s differences than anything else has. Teams that operate more on inclusion always have a better chance to succeed. In the end, we all want to be athletes that are respected. It is my hope that by joining up with Athlete Ally we can spread the word on celebrating our differences off the field, so we can all enjoy winning on the field.”
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