Players dribble the ball at a Sacramento Republic FC all-girls soccer tournament to support female empowerment through the #WatchMe campaign.
Kyung Mi Lee
Amid the continued success of the U.S. women's national soccer team, girls' soccer in Sacramento is getting a new push. Sacramento Republic FC hosted an all-girls four-on-four tournament this past Saturday to launch a new campaign for women's empowerment.
Over 80 girls participated in the event from all across the capital region and players from the Sacramento women's premier team, the California Storm, trained the girls and refereed games.
"As a professional soccer club in Sacramento, we have an unwritten duty to provide younger generations with a sense of teamwork and belonging," said Kenny Cooper, the team lead of club partnerships at Republic FC. "The questions we are asking ourselves is: how can we elevate, motivate, and inspire young ladies playing soccer?"
The #WatchMe campaign, which is being promoted and run by Sac Republic, will focus on three pivotal aspects of women's inclusion in sports - train, lead and inspire.
"Watch Me: Train" kicked off the campaign with the all-girls tournament and will be followed by a series of ongoing soccer camps and clinics."Watch Me: Lead" and "Watch Me: Inspire" will support female leadership on and off the field by providing resources for women coaches to attain U.S. soccer coaching certifications and by hosting a speaker symposium in Sacramento next spring.
"The confidence and camaraderie you gain as a team is hard to replicate in anything other than sports," said Scott Moak, the vice president of community investment at Republic FC. "That is, to me, why getting girls involved in sports and keeping them in sports is important."
For Jamie Howard-Levoy, the head coach of the California Storm, building personal relationships with the girls is a crucial part of empowering young women to continue their careers in athletics."There is Sac Republic on the men's side, but we're the only team on the women's side," she said. "So we want to show the girls what it's like to play at the next level."
On the boys' side, Republic FC represents the second-highest level of soccer played in the country. The team is currently negotiating to join Major League Soccer. The California Storm, plays in the second-highest level of professional women's soccer. The team is 8-0-0 and has the second-most goals in the league with 37. The team's home games are played at El Camino High School.
Supporting the Sacramento community by empowering women and girls is a core team commitment, said Sac Republic President Ben Gumpert."It comes down to the founding of the club," he said. "It's our responsibility, and it's what we set out to do."
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