- Alex Morgan is teaming up with GoGo squeeZ to help make youth athletics more accessible and more enjoyable for kids across the United States.
- The combined efforts of hyper-competitiveness, early specialisation, and incredible time commitments have contributed to a steady decline in youth sport participation across the country.
- The USWNT superstar spoke with Insider about the initiative, her own youth sports experience, and how she plans to approach future sports participation for her daughter, Charlie.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Alex Morgan is making youth sports fun again.
Or, at least, she’s trying to.
The US Women’s National Team superstar â€” and new mum â€” is teaming up with GoGo squeeZ to help make youth athletics more accessible and more enjoyable for kids across the United States. The combined efforts of hyper-competitiveness, early specialisation, and incredible time commitments have contributed to a steady decline in youth sport participation across the country.
Now, with the coronavirus pandemic making nearly every aspect of life more logistically challenging, even those kids who want to get in on the competition are having a harder time doing so safely.
“With the pandemic, there’s really been an added layer of… kids not always having accessibility to play youth sports, especially in their respective states,” Morgan told Insider. “When I heard about this campaign, I was immediately drawn to it because I know just how important it is for girls to play sports in that that helps their self-confidence in that that helps them gain these life skills that you wouldn’t be able to gain otherwise.”
“I was really disturbed by all of these numbers and percentages of kids dropping out of sports and for them to be saying that it wasn’t fun being the main reason that they dropped out,” Morgan added.
Morgan and GoGo squeeZ are helping combat these issues by partnering with organisations like Laureus Sport for Good and Project Play, both of which help provide children in underserved communities access to sports. But, in addition to giving more kids a chance to play sports, Morgan is also interested in making sure those chances are healthy, safe, and age-appropriate â€” just like her own formative experience participating in youth sports.
“My parents didn’t push me into more of a travel team at an early age,” Morgan said. “I felt like I was able to then have fun and feel like I was able to dedicate the right amount of time to sports that I wanted to, rather than being forced into dedicating more or less time.”
The fifth all-time leading goal scorer in USWNT history said she participated in multiple sports well into her childhood and didn’t focus solely on soccer until she was considerably older than most. In fact, she stayed with her local rec soccer team for years rather than joining a travel team, something that she acknowledges is “probably very different than a lot of my teammates or other professional athletes nowaday.”
“I never felt like there was this hyper-competitiveness until I got to maybe 14 or 15 years old when I started to get recruited by colleges and see this as an actual future,” Morgan said. “Before then, I didn’t even want to think about â€” other than having the dream of playing professional soccer â€” I didn’t want to think about, ok, what’s the avenue to get there. I have to practice this many hours this amount of days. It wasn’t a plan for me to like to play so many hours.”
“I think that was a good thing because when you’re told that you have to do something, now all of a sudden, it’s not fun to do it,” she added. “When you want to do something, then you’re going to have all the fun that you want during that, but you’re not forced into it.”
Though she says she’s always been invested in the health of youth athletics because “sport has given me so much,” Morgan has an added interest now that she has a daughter of her own. Charlie, born on May 7, 2020, is the daughter of two professional soccer players in Morgan and her husband, Fort Lauderdale CF midfielder Servando Carrasco.
But even though her almost six-month-old has a leg up on the competition genetics-wise, Morgan insists that whatever passions Charlie pursues will be her own choice.
“Obviously, I would love to see Charlie and sports, but I don’t want to push her in any direction that she’s going to either resent me for or she’s not gonna enjoy,” Morgan said. “And so I want her naturally to define what she loves, and if that’s sports, then I’m all for it, and I’ll do everything I can to give her the accessibility to play sports.”
But that sentiment isn’t exclusive to her own child; Morgan wants every kid to have the chance to participate in athletics pressure free if they so choose.
“I want girls and boys to feel that as well,” she said. “And I want to be able to provide that avenue for them.”
- Read more:
- 20 examples of Alex Morgan’s competitive drive that has made her a soccer icon
- European clubs are poaching US Women’s Soccer stars thanks to the coronavirus pandemic
- A budding USWNT star credited the American dream after earning her first national team call up and becoming a US citizen in the same day
- Stars of US women’s soccer are done waiting for others to help level the playing field and are creating their own opportunities while inspiring others
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