CP Soccer for female players thriving in the AmericasNews
Written by Ashley Hammond edited by Sam Allen
The World Cup (Female) will offer a launchpad for many countries to inspire a new and rising generation of female players as the momen's CP game proliferates around the globe.
In America, both the club effort and the work of US Soccer have seen a precipitous rise in female participation and play. Eli Haliwell, Co-Founder of CP Soccer US, expressed his delight with the development of the programme.
Haliwell explained: "We are thrilled with the growth of our female programme. We have lots of players in our Girls under 18 programs, especially in the 8-12 age group.
"The teenagers are wonderful in both the boys and the girl’s side and the girls have led the way with a peer mentoring program."
CP Soccer US CEO Jacqueline Chen also enthused, discussing the amount of young female players that participate in the Zoom training that CP Soccer is currently conducting.
"We are so lucky that the young female players come on every session and are committed and tireless in their work."
Soccer participation by female players in the US is high with a near-even split between the genders in numbers. This split has not to this point been similar within the CP soccer world.
This past year, however, has seen a concerted effort by US Soccer to create a Women's National team for CP/Stroke/TBI players. CP Soccer US has also raised the stakes with extra outreach and progrm development specifically for female players.
Based in New Jersey, Leah Glaser and Cat Guilmaeres, two top teenage prospects with CP, have worked hard to create a junior mentoring program allowing the younger players to learn from peers and meet with fellow players who share the same issues.
Cat has already represented the US at the Pan Am games last fall in track, meddling in two events (400 M and Long Jump).
Guilmaeres expressed that: "My dreams for the future of women's CP soccer is to have our national team at the same level as the men's.
"Also, to have the ability to help young girls with CP in knowing that just because they have CP doesn't mean they can't be professional athletes."
IFCPF's has been very active with camps and training programs for female players, and the eagerly anticipated World Cup will be a fantastic event to help players like Leah see her dreams realised.
Glaser added: "My friends and fellow soccer players inspire me to train the extra mile.
"I also do the training I do because of the future of women's CP Soccer and the want to be a role model.
"I hope that there is a fully established PNT down the road, that gives a clear path for aspiring soccer players."
Emily Hoffman, aged 18 and a goalkeeper from South Carolina, believes having CP has never proved to be much of an obstacle when playing the game, she loves.
"I always played on able-bodied teams and was able to hold my own," said Hoffman. "Soccer gave me a goal physically and made me work harder to gain more movement and skills."
The onset of Zoom training has enhanced the ability of CP Soccer's ability to reach players in distant states, with now female players from 20 plus states practicable-bodies training programs.
A recent addition to the CP Soccer program is Isabella Stankunis - at 12 years of age, she is one of the most talented young players in the club and has some lofty goals.
Stankunis said: "My dreams are to train in person with other CP women players and possibly make the team, with my family travelling alongside me to cheer me on against other countries.
"In the US, female players often train alongside male players - CP soccer is no different.
"It is great because it makes me compete harder and get better. I also get to see they are no different than us girls."
Creating equal opportunities for male and female players is undoubtedly a significant component of the CP Soccer mandate, and also a key area of the work of IFCPF.
CP Soccer will also be announcing an opportunity for female teams to come to the US and play in a festival-type event once the current COVID situation resolves. The event will feature actual club teams and a "world" team of players without a recognised program/team.
Many of the CP programs across the US have commenced in-person training again with weekly sessions and substantial growth in female participation. The future is bright for female players across the Americas.