“The Beautiful Game” series explores how soccer makes a difference off the pitch.
Two weeks ago, TSG ran the first part of our Supporter Series about the Tony Danza Army, a group of guys who support the Pali Blues of the W-USL.
In writing the piece, it was suggested that TSG request a quote from Pali Blues’ General Manager, Jason Lemire. Not really knowing too much about Pali Blues at the time, I suggested that Mr. Lemire should comment on TDA and the opportunity to attract new fans with the recent folding of the WPS Los Angeles Sol.
At that time Mr. Lemire chose not to answer the second part and I assumed he was being respectful of the still unfolding situation for the Sol. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the Pali Blues had a deep connection with the LA Sol. The co-founder of the Blues was one of the original owners of the Sol and the Blues coach was, until the Sol disbanded, the general manager of the WPS team.
In other words, the two teams were basically sisters in the LA market. But, according to an Open Letter to Pali Blues’ fans penned by Mr. Lemire, the connection ran much deeper. Both teams shared a common belief that their mission transcended performance on the field to the inspiration of young girls and women. So with the folding of the Sol, Los Angeles may have lost more than just a women’s professional soccer team.
It would be easy to dismiss a (semi)professional soccer team’s desire to inspire young women, but the impact can be tremendous. Mrs. Shinguardian, my wife, played soccer through college and credits the sport with being a big part of the women she has become.
All team sports provide some level of commitment, teamwork and goal setting, but, according to Mrs. Shinguardian, soccer stands above the rest for women. As she pointed out, soccer is one of the only team sports that has identical rules for men and women.
In women’s soccer, the ball is the same size (unlike basketball), the field is the same (unlike softball), the gear is the same (unlike lacrosse) and the rules are the same (unlike hockey).
The underlying equality in soccer may not seem like a big deal to men— it didn’t at first to me — but rest assured it is one for women and girls. To the extent then that teams like the Blues and the former Sol can be a positive influence on young women speaks to the power of the beautiful game to have an impact on lives, not just trophy cases and bank accounts.
Mr. Lemire finally did eventually comment on the folding of the Sol in that Open Letter to Pali Blues’ fans and supporters of women’s soccer in LA specifically. The letter provides insight into what Pali Blues is all about and an invitation to all within the LA market to be inspired by what is going on at the Stadium by the Sea.
With permission from Mr. Lemire, here is his Open Letter: